Professionals should not go up against their regulator alone
The Ontario College of Pharmacists (“OCP”) is the regulator for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in Ontario. They:
- decide who has a certificate to practice as a pharmacist or pharmacy technician
- handle complaints against pharmacists and pharmacy technicians
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 pharmacist’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 pharmacists with matters including:
- Advising pharmacy professionals on compliance with relevant legislation and standards
- Responding to complaints and investigations at the College of Pharmacists
- Representing pharmacy professionals at the Fitness to Practise Committee
- Defending pharmacy professionals in hearings before the College’s Discipline Committee
- Advocating for pharmacy professionals to resolve matters through the College’s complaint resolution process
- Representing pharmacy professionals in appeals before the Divisional Court of Ontario
Applying for a Certificate to Practice at a regulatory college can be a rather complex process.
The College of Pharmacists offers certificates for pharmacists and pharmacy techniciansand while applicants must meet the same requirements and qualifications, there are several pathways to registration dependent on:
- An applicant’s educational background and credentials
- An applicant’s previous licenses (i.e. licensed pharmacist in another Canadian jurisdiction)
For both certificates, it is mandatory that applicants meet the following requirements:
- Educational credentials in the field
- Completion of the Jurisprudence Examination
- Completion of the Practice-based assessment
- Completion of the Pharmacy Examining Board of Canada (PEBC) Qualifying Examination
Applications are reviewed by the Registrar who will:
- Issue a certificate if all requirements are met or
- Refer the application to the Registration Committee for review if not all requirements are met
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 College, contact us today.
The College of Pharmacists of Ontario receives complaints from:
- members of the public
- clients of pharmacy professionals
- employers of pharmacy professionals
- other pharmacy professionals
Employers, facility operators and all regulated health professionals – including fellow members of the College -are required to file a complaint, if during their practice they have obtained reasonable grounds for suspicion of sexual abuse of a patient, professional misconduct, incapacity and incompetence.
Once a written complaint is submitted to the College:
- A file is opened, and additional details or documentation may be requested
- The member is issued a Notice of Complaint (NOC) advising them of the complaint along with a copy of the complaint
- The member has an opportunity to file a written response to the complaint
- The complaint is investigated, and all findings are submitted and reviewed by the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC)
The ICRC then issues a decision which may include:
- Taking no further action
- Issuing a caution to the member
- Requiring the member to complete an education or remediation program
- Referring the member to the Fitness to Practise Committee for health inquiries
- Referring the member to the Discipline Committee for allegations of misconduct or incompetence
- Taking other action consistent with the Regulated Health Professions Act (RHPA)
These outcomes can have very serious financial and personal impacts on members. If you have received a complaint from the OCP, please contact us today.
If the ICRC considers a complaint to be “high risk” it can 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:
- Revocation of the member’s certificate
- Suspension of the member’s certificate
- Imposing 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 may be impacted by an ongoing physical or mental health 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
The Fitness to Practise Committee will review the matter and may hold a hearing to determine whether a member is incapacitated, as outlined in the Code, and if so what terms, conditions, or limitations should be placed on the registrant’s certificate of registration.
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.
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.