News Release

CPSO Leads the Way for Greater Public Protection

Sep 09, 2016

Toronto, Ontario -- The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario is committed to protecting patients from sexual abuse by physicians. Over the past two years, the College has made substantial improvements to our processes and practices to ensure that individual patients and the broader public are protected. We’ve also made recommendations for legislative changes that would make penalties for sexual abuse the toughest in any jurisdiction.

“As a regulator, we will do all that we can to support patients and protect them from sexual abuse,” said Dr. Joel Kirsh, President of the College. “We welcome the priority given by the Government of Ontario to modernizing the legislation to achieve this goal,” said Dr. Kirsh.

The College launched a sector-leading sexual abuse initiative in 2014 to enhance our practices and make recommendations to strengthen our governing legislation. Several important changes have already been implemented, including:

  • a pilot-project to provide independent legal advice to all witnesses who are likely to testify in a College discipline hearing in cases of sexual misconduct.  We are the very first regulatory body to offer this to patients; and
  • providing enhanced support and information for patients, including information about reporting sexual abuse, available in 11 languages.  We also created a video for patients introducing our victim support staff, the first point of contact for persons thinking about making a sexual abuse complaint against an Ontario doctor.

We have also asked for changes to the legislation that will both strengthen penalties and make sexual misconduct investigations and prosecutions more effective and efficient; and better empower patients involved in the discipline process.  The recommendations include:

  • requiring mandatory revocation for all physical sexual contact between a physician and patient, which is much broader than the current legislation that specifies particular acts that result in this penalty;
  • requiring mandatory revocation for physicians found guilty of specified criminal sexual offences, and for being found by another regulatory body to have sexually abused a patient;
  • increasing privacy protections for witnesses in relation to their personal medical records where they are sought by the physician;
  • guaranteeing full party status and legal representation for witnesses where the physician tries to obtain the witness's private medical records during a discipline hearing.

We will review the Minister’s Task Force report carefully and will work with government and our health-care partners to build on and evolve the existing legislative and regulatory system to ensure patient protection.

For more information about our sexual abuse initiative: backgrounder; report in Dialogue.

Media Inquiries:
Kathryn Clarke                         
kclarke@cpso.on.ca
416-967-2600 Ext. 378

Tracey Sobers
tsobers@cpso.on.ca
416-967-2600 Ext. 402