January 3, 1934 was the birthday of the Canadian Institute of Sanitary Inspectors. On that date the Secretary of State for Canada gave “Public Notice” that Letters Patent had been issued to the Institute pursuant to the provisions of “The Companies Act”. This was the culmination of a process which had started 14 years earlier in 1920.

When the Institute started as an association on April 19, 1913 in Winnipeg it was established as the “Sanitary Inspectors Association of Western Canada”. Its territory was from Fort William, Ontario to Vancouver, British Columbia. Visionaries within the organization appeared to look forward to the date when the association would become a national organization. At the annual convention in Edmonton in 1920, the name of the association was changed to the Canadian Sanitary Association. The subject of obtaining a “Dominion Charter” was discussed but due to the substantial cost the idea was deferred. Annual membership dues were raised from $2.00 to $5.00 per year. In 1921 a new and improved name, “The Sanitary Inspectors’ Association of Canada” was approved by the membership.

Undoubtedly the subject of a Dominion Charter was discussed over the next number of years because the President of the BC Branch advised the National Secretary-Treasurer that it was the “unanimous decision” of the members of the BC Branch meeting on April 15, 1930 that “this matter should be taken in hand immediately.” The BC President went on to state that the BC Branch would be prepared to “immediately sponsor this matter” if the Dominion Executive was not prepared to do so. A real fire had now been lit. After much discussion over the ensuing year and prodding by the BC Branch, a decision was made at the 1931 convention in London, Ontario to apply for national Incorporation. In addition, historical documents indicate that either at the 1931 convention or somewhere between the 1931 convention and July 5, 1932 the association had taken the name of “Canadian Institute of Health Inspectors”.

In October 1932 the association’s Executive Council presented a detailed application for Incorporation to the Honourable Secretary of State for Canada. To the shock of everyone the application was rejected. The primary reason was that the subject of education was under the jurisdiction of the Provinces of Canada pursuant to the British North America Act. The association, as a national body, proposed to present courses, hold examinations and grant certificates and this was unacceptable. There were various other objections which related to the broad powers proposed in the Charter including the new name “Canadian Institute of Health Inspectors”. These proposals apparently raised the ire of some other practitioners in the health field. The objections were supported by key officials with the Department of Pensions and National Health, as well several other eminent men in the health arena such as the Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at McGill University in Montreal and the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto.

The only ray of hope was the potential involvement of the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) to assist the Institute. The Executive Council of the Institute was not to be dissuaded and much discussion ensued between CPHA and the various parties including all the Provincial Departments of Health. Members of the Institute lobbied key Deputy Ministers and MHOs. Their efforts were successful as 2 Deputy Ministers and 23 Medical Health Officers wrote the Secretary of State recommending that a revised application for Incorporation be granted.

The Executive and membership of CPHA also agreed with the revised proposal and during their 1933 convention they approved support for the Institute’s application for a national Charter. CPHA outlined several conditions with the two main ones being that CHPA would assume responsibility for setting up standards governing qualification of Sanitary Inspectors across the Dominion of Canada and further, they would establish “Provincial Examining Boards”. A key provision was that one of the three members of the Examining Boards would be a Sanitary Inspector. Based on this strong support by CPHA, and after further negotiations, the Secretary of State for Canada issued Letters Patent to the Canadian Institute of Sanitary Inspectors on January 3, 1934. The Institute finally had a national Charter!

CPHA first approved an overseeing National Committee and then they authorized the appointment of a subcommittee known as the “Central Board of Registration and Examination”. Their primary tasks were to develop a national syllabus, establish fees and conduct examinations, etc. in co-operation with the Institute. This proved to be a considerable task and it wasn’t until December 1935 that the first examinations were held. Mr. Arthur Dicaire of Lachine, Quebec was issued the first Certificate in Sanitary Inspection (Canada).

The approval of the national Charter or Letters Patent for the Institute was the turning point for the Institute. It changed the Institute from an unofficial association to a national body incorporated under the Companies Act of Canada. It was now accepted by the Secretary of State, the Dominion Health Department as well as Provincial Health Departments across Canada as the body representing Sanitary Inspectors. It established goals and objectives for the membership to aspire to in enhancing their profession and protecting the health of the public. Through the Central Board of Registration and Examination, (later to be renamed the Board of Certification) a national standard was established for Sanitary Inspectors across Canada. Hundreds of existing unqualified inspectors were encouraged to and did take the training and become qualified Sanitary Inspectors. There was no longer a need to turn to the Royal Society of Health in Great Britain to establish qualifications for Sanitary Inspectors in Canada.

Over the years the Charter of the Institute has been amended and expanded a number of times. In 1960, the delegates at the Annual General Meeting in Montreal approved a name change for the Institute. After a great debate and voting on the seven final choices, the name authorized was “The Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors”. Unfortunately, the Secretary of State was opposed to this change due to the similarity between CIPHI and CPHA. The services of the Solicitor for CPHA were engaged by the Institute and after two years of negotiations it was announced at the 1963 annual general meeting that the Charter had been changed and the certificate would be the “Certificate in Public Health Inspection (Canada)”.

In 1981, in a historic move, the Letters Patent were changed and expanded “to provide for the certification of Public Health Inspectors in Canada by the Board of Certification of Public Health Inspectors being an integral part of the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors”. After 47 years, the certification of Public Health Inspectors in Canada was now controlled by Public Health Inspectors. Many thanks are due to CPHA for their support for the creation of a national Charter for the Institute and their efforts in administering the certification process on our behalf during the following period of over four decades.

In 1985 the Letters Patent were again expanded to provide the authority for the establishment of the Environmental Health Foundation of Canada as a non-profit, charitable division of the Institute. The Foundation subsequently received official approval by Revenue Canada and operates pursuant to the Income Tax Act. Projects have been, and are being developed by the Foundation to support the education of persons, in or wishing to enter the profession, to enhance public health protection and to protect the environment.

All this has become possible as a result of the far-sightedness of colleagues nearly a century ago who initially formed our professional association. Special thanks and recognition must also be given to those members who strongly supported the incorporation of the Institute and in particular the thirteen Charter Members of the Institute from Winnipeg, Manitoba who signed the application for incorporation which was approved in 1934.

Percy Pickering George Wilfred Kelly
George Robert Mines Alexander Officer
James Shepard William Jackson Turner Watt
Alexander Cross Benjamin Cheney Brough
Ebenezer Brown Officer Douglas Little
Alexander Barclay Hubert Hawker Marshall
Alvin George Isaac

For a more detailed and informative review of the Institute’s history you are encouraged to read In the Beginning by Alex Cross (Charter Member) and Up The Years by Thomas Elliott. You can also see the Charter which is proudly displayed at all CIPHI Annual General Meetings.

Tim Roark
January 2002