Legal Support for Individuals

Consistent with the Ministry of Health’s initiatives, including the Sexual Abuse Task Force Recommendations, and continuing with its approach of assisting victims of sexual abuse, the Patient Relations Committee recommended that the College enhance support for individuals that testify at a discipline hearing and have experienced sexual abuse and/or boundary violations of a sexual nature. The full policy can be accessed below.

The purpose of the legal support is to provide individuals with independent advice, as requested, to help with their testimony at a discipline hearing. The lawyer will be retained by the individual and chosen from a roster of lawyers approved by the College. The support does not provide the individual or the lawyer with party status at the hearing or provide the right to lead evidence, cross examine or make submissions, save and except for victim impact statements. Council passed the recommendation unanimously.

College Policy

Legal support for individuals who are testifying at a discipline hearing and have experienced sexual abuse and/or boundary violations of a sexual nature

The purpose of the policy is to enhance support for complainants and individuals who may be witnesses once a referral of specified allegations of professional misconduct has been made to the Discipline Committee about alleged sexual abuse and/or boundary violations of a sexual nature.

The College recognizes that appearing before a Discipline Committee and being questioned and cross examined about the details of alleged sexual misconduct is difficult and may result in the need for independent legal advice. Commencing in January 2017, on an as-needed basis, the College will provide funding for a lawyer registered with the Law Society of Upper Canada who has expertise in dealing with individuals testifying about sexual abuse and boundary violations of a sexual nature, to provide legal support for those complainants/individuals who are required to testify before a Discipline Committee about these issues and who require independent legal advice. The lawyer will be chosen from a roster of lawyers approved by the Registrar of the College. The maximum amount of funding available for this advice is $1000.00 per complainant/individual. The funding will be provided on a reimbursement basis and the College will have no direct relationship with the lawyer.

The legal support may continue until the individual’s testimony before the hearing panel is concluded. The legal support is intended to facilitate an individual’s ability to testify during the hearing but does not provide the individual or lawyer with party status at the hearing or the right to lead evidence, cross examine or make submissions save and except for victim impact statements.

The advice given by the lawyer to the complainant/individual is not provided to the College. Witnesses who use this service may, if they wish, provide anonymous feedback to the College as to the usefulness of this service.

Passed by Council: November 17, 2016