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Governing bodies provide direction and oversight to, and require accountability from, senior leaders regarding organizational decisions and actions, while not being directly involved in carrying them out.

By maintaining a separation from management and operational functions, governing bodies can provide an independent accountability mechanism for their organizations. Therefore, even when senior leaders are involved in governance activities, there should be a clear separation between their roles as leaders and as governors, reinforced by effective conflict of interest management mechanisms, to maintain independent governance.

This standard is intended to guide governing bodies of health and social service organizations to establish effective governance practices and strong accountability mechanisms in complex and everchanging health systems.

The standard emphasizes the importance of reflecting diverse perspectives on the governing body, including the perspectives of clients and families who regularly use the organization’s services. It outlines the broad range of the governing body’s accountabilities and how it should function. The standard acknowledges that the approach a governing body takes to address its accountabilities varies according to the organization's size, structure, mandate, and required compliance with relevant laws, regulations, and contractual obligations. The requirements in this standard are intended for all types of governing bodies of public and private health and social service organizations across the continuum of care.

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