Discipline Committee Changes

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Gavel and scales

Changes to ensure consistency with best practices

Council approved two enhancements to the Discipline Committee, which hears and decides allegations of professional misconduct and incompetence referred to it by CPSO, using a formal quasi-judicial process similar to that of courts. The changes are intended to improve clarity and ensure consistency with best practices.

After a full discussion, Council approved:

  • Changing the name of the Discipline Committee to the Ontario Physicians and Surgeons Discipline Tribunal (OPSDT); and
  • Adding four to five experienced adjudicators as Committee members.

The changes are an important step in modernizing the discipline process by creating efficiencies and improving dispute resolution techniques, said Mr. David Wright, Tribunal Director and Discipline Committee Chair, in his presentation to Council. 

“Changing the name will allow the tribunal to more clearly define itself as independent of the College”

New Name

The Discipline Committee is neutral and independent of CPSO. The College’s role in a discipline proceeding is that of prosecutor and the Discipline Committee is the decision-maker. The Committee’s integration into the College can lead to a perception the Committee and the prosecution are too close, said Mr. Wright. For example, the fact that information about the Committee and its rules is found on the CPSO’s website may contribute to this perception. As a result, stakeholders may not understand the distinction between the roles of the Committee and the College, and the independence and neutrality of Committee decisions.

“Changing the name will allow the tribunal to more clearly define itself as independent of the College, enhancing the confidence of the public and members,” said Mr. Wright.

Council also agreed the word “tribunal” much better reflects the work the body does and the nature of its procedures than “committee.”

When the new name takes effect later this year, the tribunal will establish its own branding, including a logo, as well as a separate website that links to CPSO’s. The French name of the tribunal — Tribunal de discipline des médecins et chirurgiens de l’Ontario (TDMCO) — will also be used in its branding.

Experienced Adjudicators

Mr. Wright noted that including experienced and/or legally-trained adjudicators on panels has increasingly become the practice of other Canadian regulators. For example, the Nova Scotia College of Physicians and Surgeons has a lawyer chair its panels. This was also a key recommendation made by Justice Stephen Goudge, when he reviewed CPSO’s complaint and hearing process at the Ministry of Health’s request.

Mr. Wright said he expects the appointment of experienced adjudicators to the Committee will promote CPSO’s strategic priority of continuous improvement by:

  • Leading to fairer and more efficient hearings, including through the greater use of active adjudication and case management; 
  • Leading to more and earlier settlements through the application of mediation skills; 
  • Improving reasons and reducing the amount of time taken to draft and edit them; and
  • Reducing legal costs, as Independent Legal Counsel would not need to be retained in hearings, pre-hearings or case management conferences chaired by experienced adjudicators.

Most discipline panels are comprised of five people — at least two public Council members and physician members of the Discipline Committee. “Adding experienced adjudicators to the Committee will ensure a greater diversity of skills and experiences, and these various perspectives will collectively contribute to a better decision,” said Mr. Wright.