August 23, 2017

Bill 87, Protecting Patients Act, 2017

Note: This article was originally posted in our August 2017 newsletter, and has not been updated.

Bill 87, the Protecting Patients Act, 2017 was given royal assent by the Ontario Legislature on May 30, 2017. This Bill affects the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA) and impacts the way that our College regulates midwives. Read more about this important legislation below to find out how it affects midwives and midwifery clients.

About Bill 87

Bill 87 was first introduced in December 2016 and was considered by the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly from April 12, 2017 to May 17, 2017. College of Midwives of Ontario Registrar Kelly Dobbin spoke to the committee about the effects this legislation would have on midwives and our College, and submitted a joint letter along with many health regulators. Click here to read the letter.

How does Bill 87 affect midwives?

The entirety of Bill 87 and a summary of its impacts on health care in Ontario is posted on the Ontario Legislative Assembly’s website here. You can also click here to see an overview of the changes to the RHPA. Some of the changes that impact midwives are listed below, but for a full understanding of all of the changes that Bill 87 makes, please take a look at the legislation.

Bill 87 major changes

Discipline Committee & Inquiries, Complaints, and Reports Committee

• The Registrar can approve withdrawals of complaints by complainants when they are in the public interest. In the case of a withdrawal, the complainant and member must be notified within 14 days of the withdrawal being accepted.

• The Inquiries, Complaints, and Reports Committee (ICRC) and Discipline Committee can no longer impose gender-based restrictions on a registrant (e.g. a male registrant can only practise on male patients/clients).

• The ICRC can now order an interim suspension of a registrant when it receives a complaint or appoints an investigator, if the ICRC believes that the registrant’s conduct or behaviour is likely to put patients/clients at risk. Previously the ICRC could only order an interim suspension at the time of referral to the Discipline Committee.

• For the purposes of a mandatory revocation, the definition of sexual abuse has been expanded. Touching of a sexual nature of a patient’s/client’s genitals, anus, breasts, or buttocks is now considered sexual abuse which will result in mandatory revocation of a midwife’s registration.

• Additionally, in the event of a finding that requires mandatory revocation where a penalty hearing is deferred, a registrant’s certificate will be immediately suspended.

• If there’s a finding of sexual abuse and revocation is not ordered, the minimum penalty ordered by the Discipline committee must include a suspension. Previously the required minimum penalty included an oral reprimand only.

• The Minister can create regulation to advise a College how they should investigate and prosecute sexual abuse cases.

Mandatory Reporting Obligations

• The fines for failing to report sexual abuse have increased to $50,000 for individuals and to $200,000 for corporations.

• Members must report to colleges if they have been charged with an offence, if a court has imposed any bail conditions or other restrictions, or if restrictions have been agreed to by the registrant. This change is not yet in force however, last year the College changed its By-laws to require members to report this information. In addition, the College’s by-laws were amended to allow the posting of criminal charges and findings, as well as charges and findings under the Health Insurance Act or the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, as well as a summary of any currently existing conditions or restrictions relating to custody or release imposed by a court or other lawful authority.

• Members must report if they are registered to practise another regulated profession inside or outside Ontario. They must report any findings of professional misconduct or incompetence by those regulators. This change is not yet in force however, College by-laws already require members to report this information In addition, College by-laws were amended last year to allow the posting of a Member’s registration or licensure history in any profession in any jurisdiction to the extent that the information is publicly available.

Public Register

• More information will be available on a midwife’s profile on the Public Register.

• All Specified Continuing Education or Remediation Program(s) (SCERP) required by the Inquiries, Complaints, and Reports Committee (ICRC) in decisions released as of May 30, 2017 are posted permanently to the Public Register. Last year the College changed its by-Laws to allow the posting of SCERPS with a monitoring component to be posted for 2 years. Bill 87 supersedes this by-law.

• All oral cautions issued by the ICRC in decisions released as of May 30, 2017 are posted permanently to the Public Register. Last year the College changed its by-laws to allow the posting of oral cautions for 3 years. Bill 87 supersedes this by-law.

• A copy of the allegations of every matter referred to the Discipline Committee that has not been fully resolved must be posted, along with the date and status of the referral.

• Discipline findings posted on the Public Register must contain a synopsis of the finding and of the content of the reprimand (if applicable). • All Acknowledgment & Undertakings (A&U) must be posted on the public register until they are fulfilled.

• The date of death of former members must be posted, if known.

• The Minister is also able to make a regulation requiring additional information be placed on the Public Register.

There are additional changes that are awaiting regulation and/or additional information to further clarify the requirement, for example committee structure and third party production orders.

These changes to the RHPA affect midwives, the public, and the way we operate as a College. This means that some of our current by-laws are inconsistent with the changes set out in Bill 87.

Midwives and the public should be aware that the RHPA supersedes our College by-laws, and we will be amending our by-laws to ensure they are consistent.

Our Council and Committees will meet over the next few months to discuss these changes and make decisions around implementation. We will continue to update members and the public throughout this process.