“Unlike the five health professions authorized to use the “Doctor” title, no class of audiologist certificate required an applicant to have passed a licensing examination. Furthermore, unlike the other professions, audiologists were not entitled to communicate a diagnosis as the cause of an individual’s symptoms”.This decision was largely based on provisions within the Regulated Health Professions Act (‘RHPA’), including a provision which states:
It might seem unfair, illogical even. But this can be a harsh reality and a source of confusion for some who believe they are entitled to use the abbreviation ‘Dr.’, including some holders of doctorate degrees who can find themselves prevented at law (by the RHPA and The Medicine Act, among others) from using this abbreviation or the title ‘Doctor’. The reason has less to do with verifying those using the title ‘doctor’ (or a variation, abbreviation or equivalent in another language) have appropriate qualifications and training, and everything to do with the various Colleges’ mandate of protecting the public through regulation in Ontario. First, you have to be a member of one of the groups of health professionals with prima facie entitlement to use the title (see section 33(2) of the RHPA). Second, even if you are a member of one of those professions, if you are not registered with the relevant regulatory College in Ontario, say the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, or the College of Chiropractors of Ontario, you cannot use the title ‘while providing or offering to provide healthcare in Ontario’. A primary objective for the Colleges seems to be preventing confusion among members of the public. Among others, a problem can arise for:
Restriction of title “doctor”33(1) Except as allowed in the regulations under this Act, no person shall use the title “doctor”, a variation or abbreviation or an equivalent in another language in the course of providing or offering to provide, in Ontario, health care to individuals. 1991, c. 18, s. 33 (1).
Earlier this year, Wise Health Law succeeded on a motion for summary judgment in a dental malpractice case on the basis that the limitation period had expired before the Statement of Claim was issued. The (unreported) decision was delivered orally on the day of the motion.
In part, the plaintiff argued that she did not discover her claim until the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (the “RCDSO” or “College”) rendered its decision, as she did not know if the defendant was negligent when she complained to the RCDSO, but merely had a “suspicion”.
In the midst of COVID-19, the proceedings of many health colleges, and consequently of the health professionals they regulate, have been in limbo while everyone finds a way forward.
On March 25, 2020, the Ontario government enacted the Hearings in Tribunal Proceedings (Temporary Measures) Act, 2020 (the “Act”) to help the process along.
The Act empowers statutory tribunals with more discretion over how proceedings before them are held.
Effective 11:59 p.m. on March 24, 2020, the Ontario government ordered the closure of “non-essential” workplaces. The list of “essential” workplaces included “health care professionals providing emergency care including dentists, optometrists and physiotherapists”.
The College of Chiropractors of Ontario (“CCO”) interprets this list as including chiropractors, and we agree.
So the question becomes – what is “emergency care”?