In response to a task force report released in September, Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins has proposed new legislation that would amend the Regulated Health Professions Act and broaden the minister’s role in overseeing the provincial healthcare industry’s regulatory colleges.
The task force was formed in December 2014, after a series of Toronto Star stories revealed that several Ontario doctors had sexually assaulted patients without losing their licenses. According to the Star, ‘an expansion to the list of acts of sexual abuse that would lead to the mandatory revocation of a health professional’s licence’ is one of the report’s key proposed changes.
The proposed legislative changes also include the creation of a separate tribunal dedicated to the investigating and prosecuting allegations of sexual abuse against healthcare workers.
Medical malpractice lawyers have embraced the proposed changes, which include more public participation on regulatory boards.
“I think there is a benefit to having more lay members on the discipline panels because of the inherent bias of a profession judging itself,” lawyer Paul Harte told the Star. “Even with the best of intentions, there has to be a subconscious desire to protect the profession.”
Current laws mandate that two members of the public must be included on regulatory panels like the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO). The rest of the college is comprised of physicians.
While medical malpractice lawyers and patient rights spokespeople have generally spoken in support of the Health Minister’s announcement, CPSO president Dr. Joel Kirsh has, unsurprisingly, been less receptive. He spoke out against the task force’s recommendations when the report was originally released in September 2016.
“We do not believe that a separate agency being created can improve on the work we are already doing, and we anticipate, like any high-performing organization, continuing to improve our work, aided and supported by the government’s proposed changes,” he said.
Sexual abuse by physicians, in addition to being a criminal offense, has long been a focus of medical malpractice lawyers. Trust is the foundation upon which a healthy doctor-patient relationship is built, and the violation of that trust can lead to significant mental and emotional pain. When regulatory bodies fail to punish violations, they are failing patients.
“The task force was unequivocal in concluding that we have more than 20 years of evidence of how the current system is failing patients in Ontario,” task force chair Marilou McPhedran told the Star. “If this minister of health and this premier don’t take bold action to change a system that, for the most part, works against patients who have been sexually exploited by regulated health professionals, then I fear it will never get done.”
If you or a member of your family has experienced sexual abuse by a healthcare professional, or has been injured in any other way during the healthcare process, contact the medical malpractice lawyers at Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers’ Medical Malpractice Group today. Our team understands the pain and suffering associated with these injuries, and can help you regain control of your life and plot your next steps forward. Call today for a free, no-obligation consultation.