There are currently 26 different regulated health professions in
Ontario. Each profession has its own set of rules which dictate
what will, and will not, be considered appropriate conduct for the
members of that profession. However, there is one area in which the
government has applied a primarily one size fits all regime:
Under the Health Professions Procedural Code (the
"Code"),1, any instance of "physical
sexual relations" or "touching of a sexual nature"
between a regulated health professional and a patient is defined as
abuse"2 and, if the sexual act in
question falls within a specific list of prohibited actions, will
lead to the mandatory
revocation of your license to practice3 This applies
just as equally to opticians as it does to physicians, dentists,
psychologists, etc. Critically, it does not matter if the patient
consented to the sexual interaction, nor does it matter if the
sexual interaction occurred while the member was not engaged in the
practice of his/her profession.
In the case of Leering v. College of Chiropractors of
Ontario,4 Dr. Leering, a chiropractor, was charged
with sexual abuse for having engaged in sexual relations with a
patient. Dr. Leering argued that his actions did not constitute
"sexual abuse" as he and the patient had a personal
relationship, and had begun co-habiting before Dr. Leering began
giving her chiropractic treatments. Put another way, Dr. Leering
attempted to argue that he could not have sexually abused his
patient as the patient was his spouse. While this argument had some
short lived success before the Divisional Court of Ontario, in
2010, the Court of Appeal for Ontario found that the offence of
sexual abuse will have occurred even if there is a concurrence of a
sexual relationship and a health care professional-patient
relationship, and even if the sexual relationship commenced first.
Simply put, the Court made it clear that any regulated health
professional who treats their spouse and has a sexual relationship
with their spouse will have committed "sexual abuse" as
defined in the Code.
In 2013, partly in reaction to Leering, the
Code was revised to give Council of each regulatory
College the ability to create a spousal exemption to the definition
of "sexual abuse"/5 Thus, the era of "one
size fits all" sexual prohibition seems to be coming to an end
– sort of. It is important to note that even if a spousal
exemption is implemented by a particular College, the exemption
will only apply to individuals who meet the legal definition of
"spouses" – i.e. two persons who are married to
each other or have lived together in a conjugal relationship
continuously for at least three years.6 Individual
Colleges do not have the authority to create broader exemptions to
the definition of "sexual abuse".
At a meeting of the College of Opticians of Ontario
("CCO")'s Council in January of 2015, Council moved
to implement a spousal exemption which would lift the ban on
opticians treating their spouses. No proposed wording of the
exemption has been released. However, once Council has received
input from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, it will be
circulated for stakeholder feedback.7
In the meantime, the law governing opticians remains the same:
engage in a concurrent sexual relationship and therapeutic
relationship, even if the patient in question is his/her
spouse. Moreover, even if/when a spousal exemption
is implemented by the CCO, it will not apply to personal
relationships which do not meet the legal definition of
"spouse", and the treatment of such individuals will
still carry what some consider to be amongst the harshest of
penalties: the mandatory revocation of your license.
Effective September 1, 2016, the Disposition of Surplus Real Property Regulation to the Ontario Education Act was amended with the intention to reduce barriers to the formation of health and community hubs in Ontario.
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Two recent decisions from the Supreme Court of Canada directly affect Quebec's farm businesses by confirming La Financière Agricole du Québec's discretion in the administration of the farm income stabilization program...
On October 6, 2016, the Ontario Legislature reintroduced the Patients First Act, 2016 as Bill 41. Bill 41 is very similar to its predecessor, Bill 210, which was introduced in June 2016, but makes some important changes to the previous bill.
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