Canada: Bill 87, The Protecting Patients Act, 2016, Proposes Amendments To The Sexual Abuse Provisions In The Regulated Health Professions Act

Last Updated: February 17 2017
Article by Lisa Spiegel

Bill 87, the Protecting Patients Act, 2016 (Ontario) ("Bill 87"), passed First Reading on December 8, 2016 and, if passed, will amend or repeal five different statutes, including the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 ("RHPA"). The proposed amendments to the RHPA include those relating to the provisions regarding sexual abuse.

In the Fall of 2016, the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (the "Ministry") committed to amending the RHPA, following the release of the recommendations made by the Minister's Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Patients and the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991. A previous Health Communiqué, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Promises Legislative Changes Relating to Sexual Abuse, summarizes the promised legislative amendments.

As summarized in more detail below, Bill 87 includes amendments which provide clarity as to who is a "patient" within the context of sexual abuse allegations, would permit a complainant to withdraw his/her complaint, would allow an investigative committee to impose interim restrictions on a member's certificate of registration upon receipt of a complaint, would remove the Discipline Committee's discretion to order gender- based restrictions, and would expand the types of sexual acts that give rise to mandatory revocation.

Sexual abuse of a patient is defined in the Health Professions Procedural Code ("HPPC"), which is Schedule 2 to the RHPA, as:

(a) sexual intercourse or other forms of physical sexual relations between the member and the patient,

(b) touching, of a sexual nature, of the patient by the member, or

(c) behaviour or remarks of a sexual nature by the member towards the patient.

"sexual nature" does not include touching, behaviour or remarks of a clinical nature appropriate to the service provided.

For there to be a Discipline Committee finding of sexual abuse in the current legislative framework, there must be a concurrent sexual and health professional/patient relationship.

Defining "Patient"

There is currently no definition of "patient" in the HPPC, nor guidance as to when a health professional-patient relationship ends. Currently, whether an individual is a patient, and when a health professional-patient relationship is terminated, is a question of fact, having regard to a variety of factors.

If passed, Bill 87 would expand the Minister's regulatory powers to establish, by regulation, criteria for the definition of "patient" in the context of sexual abuse and, further, it would provide clarity as to who may be considered a patient by virtue of the following provision:

"patient", without restricting the ordinary meaning of the term, includes,

 (a) an individual who was a member's patient within the last year or "within such longer period of time as may be prescribed" and

(b) as an individual who is determined to be a patient in accordance with regulations made by the Minister to establish the criteria for the definition of "patient" in relation to professional misconduct involving the abuse of a patient (emphasis added).

For purposes of the sexual abuse provisions in the RHPA, a health professional/patient relationship would be deemed to continue for a year despite the nature of and/or duration of the pre-existing health professional/patient relationship. For example, an emergency room ("ER") physician would be deemed to be in a doctor/patient relationship with a patient for one year following treating that patient in the ER. This is a departure from how the Discipline Committee of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario ("CPSO") previously interpreted the duration of a doctor/patient relationship in the context of an ER physician's treatment of a patient. For example, in finding the relationship ended after the patient's last visit to a hospital, the Discipline Committee in Ontario (College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario) v. Redhead did not make a finding of sexual abuse where that physician began a sexual relationship with an individual weeks after that individual's last attendance at the hospital.

Withdrawal of a Complaint

Bill 87 would explicitly allow the Registrar, at the request of a complainant, to withdraw a complaint made to a health regulatory College prior to action begin taken by the investigative committee (the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee ("ICRC")).

Interim Suspensions at the Investigative Stage

Currently, the ICRC may only order that the Registrar suspend or impose interim restrictions on a member's certificate of registration after a complaint has been investigated and the matter referred to the Discipline Committee for a hearing.  Further, these orders can only be imposed if the ICRC is of the opinion that the conduct of the member exposes or is likely to expose his or her patients to harm or injury.

Bill 87 proposed to repeal this power and introduce new ICRC powers. The new powers would allow the ICRC to order that the Registrar suspend or impose restrictions on a member's certificate of registration far earlier in the process, that is, after receipt of a complaint. To impose such an order, the ICRC would need to be of the opinion that the conduct of the member or the member's physical or mental state exposes or is likely to expose his or her patients to harm or injury. This interim suspension or the imposed terms would remain in force until the matter is withdrawn, resolved by alternative dispute resolution or disposed of by the ICRC, Discipline Committee or the Fitness to Practise Committee.

No Gender Based Restrictions

Bill 87 would prohibit orders directing the Registrar to impose gender-based terms, conditions or limitations on a member's certificate of registration.

Expansion of Mandatory Revocation

Currently, a finding that a member engaged in certain enumerated frank sexual acts in respect of a patient will result in the mandatory revocation of the member's certificate of registration. Bill 87 would expand the list of enumerated sexual acts that would result in the mandatory revocation of a member's certificate of registration.

Additional changes proposed in Bill 87 include lowering the eligibility threshold for a person to receive funding for therapy and counselling after making an allegation of sexual abuse, and increasing the requirements as to what Colleges must post on their public register, expanding the list to include cautions and remediation programs ordered by the ICRC.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Lisa Spiegel
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions