In addition to the mask and hand sanitizer shortages, Ontario’s response to COVID-19 highlights the need for more frontline health care workers. Each regulated health profession’s college responded differently, and we have discussed some of those changes in other posts to keep you apprised.
Today, we focus on the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO), who set out to increase the number of available and licenced physicians out on the frontlines through certificates of registration that authorize supervised practice of short duration. The temporary licences authorize practice for 30 days.
In the early 1990s, the Ontario government enacted regulation for temporary licences under the Medicine Act for situations like pandemics. These licences are not common, and the availability of these licences is triggered when there is a need for:
In March, the pandemic triggered the provisions, and the CPSO began accepting applications for temporary licences (“Supervised Short Duration”). Applicants for the supervised 30-day licence must have:
The Supervised Short Duration certificates are only permitted to last 30 days but can be renewed. Applicants who qualify for these certificates may not qualify for other types of CPSO certification.
International Medical Graduates (IMGs) are an obvious and untapped reservoir of physicians ready to assist. IMGs are physicians who graduated from medical schools outside Canada or the United States. Data suggests there are almost 13,000 foreign-educated doctors who are not working in their fields. Some of these physicians were experts in their home country. Of particular relevance in the current environment, others have experience working in austere conditions and are all too familiar with providing patient care with limited resources.
Planning and responding to the pandemic is not over given the warnings from public health officials that we are likely to see a second (or third) wave. In a pandemic situation where resources are scarce, and many patients are frontline workers themselves, IMGs can be enlisted to help with a situation we have not faced before.Our blog is not a substitute for legal advice, tailored to your specific situation. At Wise Health Law, we have extensive experience in guiding physicians, including IMGs, with registration matters. We would be pleased to assist you.
In December 2019, Ontario’s Attorney General introduced Bill 161, the Smarter and Stronger Justice Act (the “Act”), which became law on July 8, 2020. The Act hopes to simplify a complex and outdated justice system by bringing changes to how legal aid services are delivered, how class actions are handled, and how court processes are administered.
Of note, the Act has amended the Judicial Review Procedures Act (JRPA) to establish new rules as to when an application for judicial review may be brought.
Any decisions made on or after July 8, 2020 are now subject to a 30-day limit for bringing an application for judicial review unless another Act provides otherwise. Courts, however, retain powers to extend the time for making an application for judicial review if satisfied that there are apparent grounds for relief and that no prejudice or hardship will be incurred by the delay. Before these amendments, the JRPA did not set out any time limits for bringing an application, but courts had powers to extend the time to bring an application if another Act prescribed the limit.
In early August 2020, the Federal Minister of Health granted an exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) to four terminally ill Canadians to use psilocybin in their end of life care.
Psilocybin is one of the active ingredients/chemicals in “magic mushrooms,” the other is psilocin. Both psilocybin and psilocin are controlled substances under Schedule III of the CDSA. The sale, possession, production, etc. are prohibited unless authorized for clinical trial or research purposes under Part J of the Food and Drug Regulations. Both have been illegal in Canada since 1974. According to Health Canada, there are no approved therapeutic products containing psilocybin in Canada. However, the purified active ingredient, i.e. psilocybin, is being studied in supervised clinical settings for its potential to treat various conditions such as anxiety and depression.
The Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario has issued an updated Directive #2 (dated May 26, 2020) for Regulated Health Professionals in the province.
Pursuant to the updated Directive #2, all deferred non-essential and elective services by health care providers may be gradually restarted – subject to the rest of the requirements set out in the Directive.
The updated Directive #2 does not provide particularly detailed guidance to health professionals on how to proceed, likely because it applies to such a broad spectrum of health care and health professionals. It does, however, provide some principles to assist health care providers in making decisions as we enter this transitional period.