News Release

Protecting Patients from Sexual Abuse

Dec 08, 2016

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario has strongly advocated for legislative change that will enhance our ability to protect patients from sexual abuse by physicians and strengthen the penalties for sexual abuse.

“We are committed to doing all that we can to protect patients from sexual abuse by physicians and have asked for legislative changes to strengthen our ability to protect patients,” said College President Dr. David Rouselle. “While we have made many changes over the past several years to improve and enhance our practices, legislative amendments are needed to strengthen penalties and make sexual abuse prosecutions more effective and efficient.”

We have asked for the following legislative changes:

  • requiring mandatory revocation for all physical sexual contact between a physician and patient which is much broader than the current approach of specifying particular acts;
  • immediate suspension of a physician’s ability to practice when a finding that triggers mandatory revocation has been made;
  • new authority to suspend during an investigation when appropriate; and
  • 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.

The College launched a sector-leading sexual abuse initiative in 2014 and several important changes have already been implemented, including:

  • a pilot-project to provide independent legal advice to 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;
  • providing enhanced support and information for patients, including information about reporting sexual abuse, available in 11 languages; and  
  • creation of a video for patients introducing our patient support staff, the first point of contact for persons thinking about making a sexual abuse complaint against an Ontario doctor.

“We will review the legislation carefully and participate fully in the legislative process to help ensure the regulatory system has the tools needed to ensure patient protection,” noted Dr. Rouselle.