This fall, the Provincial government intends to propose
legislation that would uphold and reinforce a zero tolerance policy
on the sexual abuse of patients by regulated health professionals.
The proposed amendments will result in changes at all
levels — for regulatory colleges, health care
institutions, individual practitioners and patients. These changes
arise from the recommendations made last December by the
government-appointed Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse
of Patients and the Regulated Health Professions Act,
The government has not yet released the specific amendments it
intends to make to existing legislation, but its September 9, 2016
News Release and the Task Force recommendations provide some
indication of expected changes.
First, the amendments will address what actions by a
professional are prohibited — both while care is being
provided and after the patient-provider relationship has ended. The
government intends to expand the list of acts that will result in
the mandatory revocation of a professional's license. It has
also indicated that it will clarify when individuals formerly in a
patient-provider relationship are permitted to engage in sexual
Second, the amendments will address the complaints,
investigation and discipline process. Fines — for both
professionals and organizations — will be increased if
suspected cases are not appropriately reported. The Task Force has
recommended that fines fall between $100,000 and $250,000. Further,
regulatory colleges will be prohibited from allowing a professional
to continue to practice on patients of the opposite gender of the
complainant. Their approach will be strictly zero tolerance.
Finally, the amendments seek to improve patient support,
transparency and public education. The government intends to fund
patient therapy as of the time the allegation is made. Further, in
an effort to improve transparency, the government will increase
obligations on regulatory colleges to report to the public. Then,
in the winter, the government plans to introduce additional
amendments to increase patient participation in the complaints
process and enhance education for the public, patients and
In the interim, the province intends to consult with key
partners and will engage an expert to assist in improving how
colleges deal with sexual abuse complaints, investigations and
discipline. At the moment, it appears that the government is not
adopting the Task Force's recommendation to create an
independent body dedicated to investigating and adjudicating
complaints of sexual abuse by regulated health professionals.
However, Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins has noted that the door
is not closed on the possibility of implementing that
recommendation in the future.
We will be keeping an eye on this developing legislation and
will provide further bulletins as it progresses. For a copy of the
News Release, please click here and for a copy of the Task
Force recommendations, please click here.
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