In recent weeks, the CPSO has placed restrictions on the certificates of practice of certain physicians, banning them from providing medical exemptions in relation to COVID-19 vaccinations, mandatory mask requirements and testing for COVID-19.
On October 27, 2021, the CPSO suspended one physician from practice entirely related to such activity.
How is the CPSO able to take such action?
Under the Regulated Health Professions Act (“RHPA”), when a complaint is received or concerns are brought to the attention of the Registrar, the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (“ICRC”) conducts an investigation to determine if there are allegations of professional misconduct that should be referred to the Discipline Committee.
In changes to the RHPA that came into effect in 2018, the ICRC is permitted to make interim orders to suspend or impose terms, conditions or limitations on the certificates of registration of members “if it is of the opinion that the conduct of the member exposes or is likely to expose the member’s patients to harm or injury”. These interim orders can be made at the investigatory stage, prior to any referral to the Discipline Committee.
As a matter of procedural fairness, before such an order can be imposed, the member is given notice of the ICRC’s intention to do so and an opportunity to make submissions. The courts have stated that the ICRC must have evidence of “probable” or “likely” exposure to harm to patients by the member; it cannot just “speculate” about the harm and there must be more than a “risk” of harm. The ICRC must also impose the “least restrictive order” that would still protect the public given that the allegations are unproven.
If such an order is made, the investigation is to be completed “expeditiously”.
Note: Our blog does not replace legal advice tailored to your specific situation, particularly when circumstances are changing rapidly. At Wise Health Law, we have extensive experience in guiding regulated health professionals through College proceedings. We would be pleased to assist you.