Professionals should not go up against their regulator alone

As an experienced lawyer for psychologists, we help professionals deal with the The College of Psychologists of Ontario (“CPO”). The CPO is the regulator for psychologists in Ontario.  They:

  • decide who has a certificate to practice as a psychologist
  • handle complaints against psychologists

But your College does not work for you.  In fact, the College can:

  • deny applicant’s applications for a certificate to practice or
  • suspend, revoke or place terms, conditions, or limitations on psychologist’s certificate to practice

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 psychologists with matters including:

  • Advising psychologists on compliance with relevant legislation and standards
  • Responding to complaints and investigations at the College of Psychologists
  • Representing psychologists at the Fitness to Practise Committee
  • Defending psychologists in hearings before the College of Psychologists’ Discipline Committee
  • Advocating for psychologists to resolve matters through the College’s complaint resolution process
  • Representing psychologists in appeals before the Divisional Court of Ontario
College of Psychologists Appeals Fitness to Practise Committee Discipline Committee Complaints Process Registration

Registration

Applying for a license or in the College’s language a “Certificate of Registration” for either supervised or autonomous practice is a complex process.  

Decisions are made by the Registration Committee who seek extensive evidence of an applicant’s:

  • Qualifications, including specific tests which are sometimes required by the College
  • Experience
  • Work history

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 CPO, contact us today.

Complaints Process

The College of Psychologists (“CPO”) receives complaints from:

  • members of the public
  • clients of psychologists
  • employers of psychologists
  • other psychologists

Members of the College must file a complaint if, during their practice, they acquire reasonable grounds to believe that another member, from the same or a different College, has committed sexual abuse against a patient.

The first step of the complaint process is at the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee, often referred to as the “ICRC”.

The ICRC is a written process – the complainant, the College and the member exchange a series of documents:

  1. A complaint against a member is made
  2. The College provides the member with an official acknowledgement of the complaint
  3. The member has an opportunity to file a written response to the complaint
  4. The ICRC will issue a decision 

The potential outcomes of a decision include:

  • A decision to take no further action
  • Issue advice or caution a member 
  • Require a member to attend a continuing education or remediation program
  • Refer a matter to the Discipline or Fitness to Practise Committee

These outcomes can have very serious financial and personal impacts on members.  If you have received a complaint from the CPO, please contact us today.

Discipline Committee

If the ICRC considers a complaint to be “high risk” it can be referred to the Discipline Committee.

Before a case advances to a hearing by the Discipline Committee, a pre-hearing may take place. This pre-hearing serves as a chance for both the College and the member to discuss their case informally.

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:

  • Revocation of the member’s certificate
  • Suspension of the member’s certificate
  • Terms, conditions, and limitations on the member’s certificate
  • Orders for the member to pay some or all 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 was impacted by an ongoing physical or mental medical 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 manner
  • The goal of the process is ensuring the health of the member

However, it is unusual for members to be referred to Fitness to Practise Committees without legal representation.  It takes experienced and detailed representation to present the evidence screening Committees, like the ICRC, want to see to consider a referral to Fitness to Practise.  If there is a complaint against you, please contact us today.

Appeals

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. 

Regrettably, individuals representing themselves in appeals seldom succeed. We possess specialized expertise in appeals from regulatory colleges. If you’re thinking about an appeal, we encourage you to contact us today.

Lawyer for Psychologists FAQ

What role does the College of Psychologists of Ontario (CPO) play in regulating psychologists?

The College of Psychologists of Ontario is responsible for regulating the practice of psychology in Ontario under the authority of the Regulated Health Professions Act and the Psychology Act. The College ensures that psychologists adhere to the highest standards of practice and ethical conduct.

What happens when a complaint is filed against a psychologist?

When a complaint is lodged against a psychologist, it is reviewed by the Complaints and Reports Committee of the College. This process involves an initial assessment to determine the validity and seriousness of the complaint, potentially leading to complaints investigations.

What is the role of the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC)?

The ICRC assesses and investigates complaints and reports concerning members’ conduct. The committee can refer matters to the Discipline Committee for a hearing, recommend continuing education or remediation programs through SCERP (Specified Continuing Education or Remediation Programs), or take other appropriate actions based on their findings.

What should a psychologist expect during a discipline hearing?

During discipline hearings, the Discipline Committee examines allegations of professional misconduct or incompetence. These hearings are formal and can result in sanctions if the psychologist is found guilty. As defence lawyers, we prepare and represent psychologists throughout these proceedings to ensure their rights and interests are protected.

What should a psychologist expect during a discipline hearing?

During discipline hearings, the Discipline Committee examines allegations of professional misconduct or incompetence. These hearings are formal and can result in sanctions if the psychologist is found guilty. As defence lawyers, we prepare and represent psychologists throughout these proceedings to ensure their rights and interests are protected.

How can Unified LLP assist psychologists facing allegations of professional misconduct?

As defence lawyers specializing in healthcare and regulatory law, we assist psychologists by providing expert legal representation during investigations, committee hearings, and appeals. Our expertise includes navigating the complexities of regulatory bodies, defending against allegations, and ensuring fair treatment throughout the process.

What is the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board, and how is it involved?

The Health Professions Appeal and Review Board (HPARB) reviews decisions made by the Complaints and Reports Committee upon request from either the complainant or the practitioner. This can include a review of the committee’s decision not to refer a case to the Discipline Committee or its recommendations following an investigation.

How does Unified LLP help with appeals?

Unified LLP offers significant experience in the Professions Appeal and Review process. We guide psychologists through the complexities of appealing decisions made by the College’s committees, including the ICRC and the Discipline Committee, to the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board. Get in touch with lawyer for psychologists today.

What is the Quality Assurance Program and how does it relate to professional practice?

The Quality Assurance Program is designed by the College to ensure that all practicing psychologists maintain professional competence. This program requires psychologists to engage in ongoing professional development and periodic peer reviews. Compliance with this program is critical to maintain licensing and avoid professional misconduct charges.

Why is it crucial for a psychologist to have a defense lawyer from Unified LLP?

Having a defense lawyer for psychologists from Unified LLP is crucial for psychologists as regulatory issues can be highly complex and the consequences of disciplinary actions severe. Our specialized knowledge of psychology regulation and defense strategies can significantly impact the outcome of complaints, investigations, and hearings.

What should a psychologist do if they receive notification from the College about a complaint or report?

Upon receiving a notification, a psychologist should contact a psychologist lawyer at Unified LLP immediately. Early legal intervention can often influence the course of the investigation and potentially resolve issues before they escalate to formal disciplinary actions.