Canada: Inconduites sexuelles : fin de l'incertitude sur la nouvelle période de radiation de 5 ans

Last Updated: May 2 2018
Article by Jo-Anne Demers and Laurent Durocher-Dumais

Le Tribunal des professions met un terme à l'incertitude découlant de l'entrée en vigueur du Projet de loi 98 ayant, entres autres, amendé à la hausse les sanctions liées aux infractions déontologiques commises par des professionnels.

Le Tribunal énonce dans cette décision que la nouvelle loi s'applique à l'étape du prononcé de la sanction peu importe si les infractions ont été commises avant l'entrée en vigueur de la loi. Le tribunal détermine que la loi nouvelle n'est pas assujettie à la présomption de non-rétroactivité et qu'elle a un effet rétrospectif, ce qui signifie que son application modifie les effets à venir de faits déjà accomplis. Cette décision met ainsi fin à un débat qui régnait au sein des conseils de discipline depuis l'entrée en vigueur des amendements au Code des professions en juin dernier.

Changements législatifs: sanctions plus sévères pour toute infraction disciplinaire commise par un professionnel

Pour se remettre en contexte, il convient de rappeler que le 8 juin dernier, le législateur québécois a apporté des modifications au Code des professions et, ayant à cSur la protection du public, a notamment mis en place des sanctions plus sévères pour toute infraction disciplinaire commise par un professionnel régi par le Code des professions dans des cas d'infractions à caractère sexuel. Ainsi, auparavant, la sanction minimale pour une telle infraction était une radiation à durée discrétionnaire accompagnée d'une amende. Le Projet de loi 98 prévoit dorénavant une radiation d'une durée de cinq ans accompagnée d'une amende. Par ailleurs, l'amende minimale pour toute infraction est passée de 1 000$ à 2 500$ et l'amende maximale, de 12 500$ à 62 500$. Le législateur permet néanmoins au professionnel de démontrer que les circonstances justifient une période de radiation moins longue. L'intention derrière ces changements était d'assurer la protection du public et de rétablir la confiance de celui-ci envers les professionnels et le processus disciplinaire.

Or, depuis l'entrée en vigueur de ces sanctions plus sévères en juin dernier, la question s'est posée à multiples reprises devant les conseils de discipline à savoir si elles s'appliquaient aux infractions commises avant juin 2017 ou seulement à celles commises après cette date. Le premier conseil de discipline à s'être penché sur la question était celui du Collège des médecins dans l'affaire Rancourt1. Le Conseil avait alors déterminé que, comme le du but du régime professionnel est de protéger le public, la présomption de non-rétroactivité des lois n'était pas applicable en raison d'une exception bien reconnue en droit. Par conséquent, le Conseil avait conclu que les nouvelles sanctions étaient d'application immédiate, ce qui signifie qu'elles s'appliquaient « à toutes plaintes pendantes pour lesquelles la sanction n'a pas encore été prononcée, peu importe la date de l'infraction, la date du dépôt de la plainte et le stade de l'instance disciplinaire au moment de l'entrée en vigueur des nouvelles dispositions »2.

Par la suite, certains conseils de discipline en sont venus à la même conclusion, mais plusieurs autres ont conclu l'inverse, faisant prévaloir le droit du professionnel de bénéficier de la peine la moins sévère au moment de l'infraction. Ces derniers imposaient donc les sanctions plus clémentes qui étaient en vigueur avant les modifications apportées au Code des professions.

Application concrète du durcissement législatif des sanctions

Ce n'est que tout récemment que le Tribunal des professions — l'instance d'appel des conseils de discipline — s'est penché sur la question dans l'affaire Oliveira3. Le professionnel en cause dans cette situation était un physiothérapeute qui avait fait des massages inappropriés à caractère sexuel à trois de ses clientes dans les locaux de la clinique. Le Tribunal le reconnaît coupable en vertu de l'article 59.1 du Code des professions.

Discutant de l'application de la nouvelle période de radiation de cinq ans, le Tribunal indique qu'il ressort clairement des débats parlementaires que l'objectif poursuivi par le législateur — en imposant une période minimale de radiation tout en l'assortissant d'un régime d'exception permettant au professionnel de plaider que les circonstances justifient une moindre radiation — est « d'assurer la protection du public et non pas de punir le professionnel »4. Il ajoute que cela dénote une « intention de mettre en balance les effets du caractère rétrospectif et l'iniquité pouvant en découler »5 pour le professionnel. Par conséquent, le Tribunal conclut à l'application des nouvelles sanctions aux gestes déjà posés pour lesquels une sanction finale n'avait pas encore été prononcée le 8 juin 2017. Le Tribunal inflige donc à M. Oliveira une radiation de cinq ans en plus d'amendes totalisant 15 000$.

Cette décision, qui était très attendue par les professionnels, les syndics, les conseils de discipline et les procureurs Suvrant dans le domaine, devrait ainsi mettre un terme au débat entourant l'application des nouvelles sanctions à certaines affaires. Ainsi, les professionnels qui font présentement face à un recours disciplinaire ou qui y feront face pour des infractions commises avant juin 2017 sauront mieux à quoi s'en tenir dorénavant.

Footnotes

1 Médecins (Ordre professionnel des) c. Rancourt, CD Méd., no 24-16-00913, 22 septembre 2017, Corriveau, Letarte et Sylvestre.

2 Id., par. 183

3 Physiothérapie (Ordre professionnel de la) c. Oliveira, 2018 QCTP 25.

4 Id., par. 52.

5 Id., par. 69.

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