Professional Conduct Committee of the Saskatchewan
College of Paramedics v. Bodnarchuk, 2015 SKCA 81, reinstating a decision of the
College Discipline Committee.
A paramedic was disciplined by a Discipline Committee of the
Saskatchewan College of Paramedics for failing to administer a
12-lead ECG test to a patient, used to identify whether a patient
is having a heart attack, and thus failing to follow proper
protocol. The Discipline Committee concluded that the paramedic
"displayed a lack of knowledge, skill or judgment, or a
disregard for the welfare of the patient", and that the
paramedic was guilty of unprofessional conduct. The paramedic was
ordered to complete a course, pay a $3,000 fine, and pay costs of
The paramedic appealed to the Council of the College of
Paramedics. The Council determined that the standard of review was
reasonableness, and that the Discipline Committee decision met this
standard. The paramedic appealed again to the Court of Queen's
Bench. The Court of Queen's Bench overturned the decision of
the Discipline Committee, finding it to be unreasonable, and
remitted the matter back to the Committee for a rehearing.
On a further appeal to the Court of Appeal, the Court of Appeal
reinstated the Discipline Committee's decision. The Court
concluded that the decision should be reviewed for reasonableness.
A reasonable decision is one which falls "within a range of
possible, acceptable outcomes which are defensible in respect of
the facts and law." The Court emphasized the importance of the
reasonableness standard, as the Discipline Committee is entitled to
deference in its interpretation of its own statute. Its task is to
interpret its statute using its unique expertise with the objective
of safeguarding the public interest.
The reasonableness standard means that it is not for a reviewing
court to re-read or re-interpret the evidence. A Discipline
Committee's decision on the evidence is entitled to
The Discipline Committee's decision was reasonable. The
Committee clearly identified that the paramedic was guilty of
professional misconduct because he failed to identify and apply the
correct protocol in the circumstances. The reasons were justified,
transparent, and intelligible, and thus the result was within the
range of reasonable outcomes.
Comment:Bodnarchuk emphasizes that
the decisions of professional discipline committees interpreting
their home statute will be entitled to deference. This means that
the decision must be justifiable, transparent and intelligible, and
within a range of reasonable outcomes. A reviewing court is not
entitled to re-weigh the evidence and reconsider findings made by a
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In Irwin v. Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, 2015 ABCA 396, the Alberta Court of Appeal found that the "ABVMA" failed to afford procedural fairness to a veterinarian undergoing an incapacity assessment.
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