Professionals should not go up against their regulator alone
The College of Chiropodists of Ontario (“COCOO”) is the regulator for chiropodists (and members who had certificates issued as podiatrists) in Ontario. They:
- decide who has a certificate of registration as a chiropodist.
- handle complaints against chiropodists
But your College does not work for you. In fact, the College can:
- deny an applicant’s application for a certificate of registration or
- suspend, revoke or place terms, conditions, or limitations on a chiropodist’s certificate of registration
If you plan to apply to the College or have received notice of complaint it is important that you have representation to protect your interests and defend your rights.
Our team of experienced lawyers can assist chiropodists with matters including:
- Advising chiropodists on compliance with relevant legislation and standards
- Responding to complaints and investigations at the College
- Representing chiropodists at the Fitness to Practice Committee
- Defending chiropodists in hearings before the College’s Discipline Committee
- Advocating for chiropodists to resolve matters through the College’s complaint resolution process
- Representing chiropodists in appeals before the Divisional Court of Ontario
Applying for a license or in the College’s language a “Certificate of Registration” for either supervised or autonomous practise is a complex process
The COCOO has three classes of registration:
- General – permits the registrant, pursuant to any terms, conditions, and limitations to practice the full scope of chiropody
- Academic – certificate of registration for those who are enrolled in an approved chiropody program in Ontario
- Educational – certificate of registration for an applicant enrolled in an approved chiropody program or engaged in supervised practice to meet the education requirements imposed by the College
Applications are reviewed by the Registration Committee who seek extensive evidence of an applicant’s:
- Educational Qualifications – successful completion of a chiropody/podiatry program
- Completion of a three-month clinical experience or internship
- Completion of the required registration exam administered by the College
Our office can help you prepare this information and offer legal advice on concerns you may have. If you are planning to apply for a certificate from the COCOO, contact us today.
The College of Chiropodists receives complaints from:
- Members of the public
- Clients of chiropodists
- Employers of chiropodists
- Other chiropodists
Employers, facility operators, other regulated health care providers and fellow chiropodists are legally obliged to file a complaint if they have obtained reasonable grounds to believe that a member of the COCOO has sexually abused a patient, or if there have been any revocations, terminations, suspensions, or restrictions on a member’s privileges.
Complaints are made through a written process and includes the following process:
- A complaint against a member is made via mail or online forum
- The College forwards a copy of the complaint to the member, and they have 30 days to submit a written response
- The complaint is then fully and impartially investigated
- The complete file is then presented to the College’s Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC) who will issue a decision of how to proceed
The ICRC utilizes a Risk Assessment Framework tool that separates risk into four categories – high, moderate, low, and minimal. This tool is used to guide panels in their assessment of complaints and reports to determine the appropriate steps.
The panel of the ICRC then issues a decision which may include any one or more of the following:
- A decision to take no further action
- Require a member to appear before a panel to be cautioned
- Require a member to complete a specified education or remediation program
- Refer a specified allegation of professional misconduct or incompetence to the Discipline Committee
- Refer the member to the Fitness to Practise Committee for incapacity proceedings
- Take action it considers appropriate that is not inconsistent with the Regulated Health Professions Act
The Panel of the ICRC will send the complainant and the member a written copy of its decision and reasons for the decision.
These outcomes can have very serious financial and personal impacts on members. If you have received a complaint from the COCOO, please contact us today.
Utilizing the Risk Assessment Framework, if the ICRC categorizes a matter as high risk, it will be referred to the Discipline Committee.
Before a matter progresses to a hearing at the Discipline Committee a pre-hearing may occur. A pre-hearing is an opportunity for the College and the member to present their case in an informal manner.
In our experience, a pre-hearing at a college can be used to:
- Reduce the allegations against a member
- Reduce the penalty being sought by a member
- Raise important legal issues before trial
At the Discipline Committee a trial may take place where witnesses are called, and evidence is heard.
Outcomes at the Discipline Committee can include:
- Revoking, suspending or imposing terms, conditions, and limitations on the member’s certificate of registration
- Requiring the member to appear before the Committee to be reprimanded
- Requiring the member to pay a fine not exceeding $35,000 to the Minister of Finance
- Requiring a member to pay all or a portion of the costs of a trial
These are extremely serious public outcomes. If your matter has or could be referred to the Discipline Committee, please contact us today.
Fitness to Practise Committee
The Fitness to Practise Committee is a specialized Committee dealing with cases where a member’s conduct and ability to practice may be impacted by an ongoing physical or mental condition.
In our experience, a referral to the Fitness to Practise Committee can offer a number of benefits to members, because:
- Complaints are generally resolved in a more private and confidential manner
- The process is oriented towards ensuring the health of the member
If the Fitness to Practise Committee finds that a member is incapacitated, they must make an order instructing the Registrar to do any one or more of the following:
- Revoke the member’s certificate of registration
- Suspend the member’s certificate of registration
- Impose terms, conditions, and limitations on the member’s certificate of registration
However, it is unusual for members to be referred to the Fitness to Practise Committee without legal representation. A key component to this referral is the presentation of detailed evidence to screening committees, such as the ICRC and so it is important that you have experienced representation to do so. If there is a complaint against you, please contact us today.
Decisions of the:
- ICRC, and
- Registration Committee,
can be appealed to the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board (“HPARB”).
Decisions of the:
- Discipline Committee, and
- Fitness to Practise Committee,
can be appealed to the Ontario Divisional Court.
Unfortunately, self-represented individuals are very rarely successful in appeals. We have unique expertise in appeals from regulatory colleges. If you are considering an appeal, please contact us today.