When a midwife has been referred by the Inquiries, Complaints, and Reports Committee because of the serious nature of the alleged professional misconduct and/or incompetence, the Discipline Committee holds a hearing.
The Discipline Committee consists of members of the public and the profession. Discipline hearing panels are appointed from the committee and must be composed of at least two public members of the Council of the College and at least one professional member of Council. The panel has a designated chairperson and is responsible for writing its own decision and reasons.
To read or obtain a copy of the Discipline Committee’s Rules of Procedure, please click here.
For information on Discipline Hearing Decorum please click here.
Referral to Discipline
A panel of the Discipline Committee hears allegations of professional misconduct and/or incompetence referred to it by the Inquiries, Complaints, and Reports Committee (ICRC).
After the ICRC decides to refer a matter to the Discipline Committee, a Notice of Hearing is sent to the midwife who is the subject of the proceedings, describing the allegations of professional misconduct and/or incompetence.
In addition, a notation is made on the College’s public register that a referral to discipline has occurred for the midwife.
The midwife can choose to retain legal counsel (i.e. a lawyer) for the hearing. The College will provide the midwife and their counsel with all relevant information in its possession, so the midwife has the opportunity to defend themselves against all allegations.
Current Referrals to Discipline
- On October 8, 2019, the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee referred allegations of professional misconduct against Sandra Knight to the Discipline Committee of the College. The Statement of Allegations can be found here. The Notice of Hearing can be found here. A hearing regarding this matter is currently scheduled to occur on July 22, 2020.
Current HearingsA hearing for Sandra Knight has been scheduled for July 22, 2020, at the College of Midwives of Ontario.
If you require any information pertaining to hearings, please contact the College at firstname.lastname@example.org or 416.640.2252 ext. 232.
The Hearing Process
Prior to the Hearing
A pre-hearing conference is held. During this meeting, College’s counsel and the midwife’s counsel will attempt to narrow the issues for the hearing and identify legal and procedural issues for the panel. This meeting also provides parties with an opportunity to receive an assessment of the case from the pre-hearing conference chair, who is typically a member of the Discipline Committee and will not sit on the panel for the hearing.
All discipline hearings are open to the public unless a publication ban is in place. The hearing requires the Discipline panel to make a determination on liability, and potentially penalty and costs.
During the hearing, the Panel will listen to each party’s submissions and review evidence regarding the allegations of professional misconduct and/or incompetence. They will then deliberate to arrive at a decision on whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant a finding of professional misconduct and/or incompetence.
If the Panel is of the opinion that there is not enough evidence to warrant a finding of professional misconduct and/or incompetence, the panel can choose to take no action. If there is a finding of professional misconduct and/or incompetence, the panel can:
- Order a revocation – the midwife’s certificate of registration will be revoked
- Order a suspension – the midwife’s certificate of registration will be suspended for a specified period of time. The panel may also choose to “suspend the suspension” for a specified period of time, provided that the midwife complies with certain conditions, such as taking a course or submitting regular reports to a supervisor.
- Impose a term, condition or limitation on the midwife’s certificate of registration – the midwife’s practise of midwifery will be restricted for a specified or indefinite period of time.
- Order a reprimand – the midwife will appear before the panel to be reprimanded orally.
- Impose a fine – the midwife may be required to pay a fine of up to $35,000.
Findings of Sexual Abuse
If the Discipline panel finds that a midwife has committed an act of sexual abuse as defined by s. 51(5) of the Health Professions Procedural Code, the panel is required to order a reprimand of the midwife and revocation of the midwife’s certificate of registration. The panel may also make additional orders it is authorized to provide under s. 51(2) of the Code. Further details can be found in the College’s Preventing Sexual Abuse page.
After the Discipline panel has made its decision on liability and penalty, one of the parties may request an order for costs. The midwife’s counsel may request costs in cases where allegations of professional misconduct or incompetence were not proven. Prosecution may request costs when the panel finds a midwife to have committed acts of professional misconduct or incompetence. In such a case, the panel may ask the midwife to pay all or part of the College’s legal costs and expenses pertaining to the investigation and hearing of the matter.
If a midwife has been found to have sexually abused a client, the midwife may be required to reimburse the College for any funding provided to the client for therapy and counselling related to the sexual abuse.
If the midwife had their certificate of registration revoked, they can apply to the Discipline panel for reinstatement within one year, unless the revocation was for sexual abuse of a client, in which case they cannot apply for reinstatement for five years. Decisions on reinstatement applications cannot be appealed to Ontario’s Divisional Court.
Other decisions of the Discipline panel can be appealed to Ontario’s Divisional Court for judicial review within 90 days of the decision being issued. There must be a question of law, fact or both in order for an appeal to be granted. The court may affirm, rescind or rehear the matter in whole or in part.
A notation of the appeal and its outcome will appear on the College’s public register.
Discipline Process Flowchart
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The College is the registration and disciplinary body for midwives in Ontario. Discipline decision summaries are published as a requirement of the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991.
Hearings are held to review allegations of professional misconduct and incompetence and are open to the public. The following are brief summaries of past discipline hearing results. The Discipline Committee’s full decisions and reasons for decisions are posted on the College’s website as they become available.
A copy of the Discipline Panel’s full decision and reasons is available upon request by contacting email@example.com.