Discipline Committee Process
Start of the Discipline Process – the Citation
Part 3 of the Health Professions Act describes the Discipline Committee process, which is a relatively rare occurrence at CRPNBC. Most matters can be resolved by the Inquiry Committee through the Inquiry Process. However, if during an inquiry an RPN refuses to address the issues under investigation, or refuses to consent to a reprimand or undertaking, the Inquiry Committee may direct the registrar to issue a citation to the registrant for a hearing before the Discipline Committee.
A citation is a formal document that names the registrant as respondent, advises there will be a hearing, describes the nature of the matter to be heard, and provides notice that the Discipline Committee can proceed with the hearing if the respondent fails to attend. CRPNBC must also deliver to the registrant, at least 30 days before the hearing, a notice with details of the date, time and place of the hearing. If there is a complainant, CRPNBC must also notify the complainant of these details not fewer than 14 days before the hearing.
Proposal to Settle
Following the issuance of a citation, a registrant may give the Inquiry Committee a written proposal to settle the matter, as described in section 37.1 of the Act – that is, admitting the nature of the matter, consenting to the making of an order as set out in the proposal, and consenting to indemnify CRPNBC for the investigation costs (per a tariff of costs). Depending on the timing of the offer, the registrant may also consent to indemnify CRPNBC for the costs of preparing for the hearing or conducting the hearing (per a tariff of costs). The Inquiry Committee may accept or reject such a proposal. If the proposal is accepted, this is considered an order of the Discipline Committee. If the proposal is rejected, the hearing must continue.
The Discipline Committee
The CRPNBC board of directors appoints experienced RPNs and members of the public to the Discipline Committee. When a citation has been issued, a panel of 3 members of the Discipline Committee is constituted to hear the matter, including any preliminary applications.
Once a hearing starts, the Discipline Committee is responsible for hearing and determining the matter. Each party may be represented by legal counsel. While not formally a party, the complainant may also be represented by legal counsel when giving evidence, but at his or her own cost. The hearing may proceed even if a registrant does not attend.
Hearings of the Discipline Committee are public, unless at the request of the complainant, the respondent or a witness the Discipline Committee determines otherwise. Oral evidence is upon oath and subject to cross-examination and the ability to call evidence in reply. The Act has detailed provisions stipulating how a party must give adequate notice to the other party of the evidence they intend to rely upon, and how they must allow the other party an opportunity to inspect documents in advance of the hearing. Sections 38(4.1) and (4.2) of the Act provide more details regarding the rules of evidence.
At the end of a hearing, the Discipline Committee may, by order, dismiss the matter or determine that the respondent (registrant):
- has not complied with this Act, a regulation or a bylaw,
- has not complied with a standard, limit or condition imposed under this Act,
- has committed professional misconduct or unprofessional conduct,
- has incompetently practiced the designated health profession, or
- suffers from a physical or mental ailment, an emotional disturbance or an addiction to alcohol or drugs that impairs their ability to practice the designated health profession.
An order of the Discipline Committee must be in writing and include reasons for the order. The Discipline Committee may do one or more of the following:
- reprimand the respondent;
- impose limits or conditions on the respondent’s practice;
- suspend the respondent’s registration;
- subject to the bylaws, impose limits or conditions on the management of the respondent’s practice during the suspension;
- cancel the respondent’s registration;
- fine the respondent in an amount not exceeding the maximum fine established under section 19(1)(w).
Costs of the hearing are determined as set out in section 39 of the Health Professions Act.
Discipline Committee decisions may be appealed to the Supreme Court. Appeals must be launched within 30 days of the Discipline Committee order, upon notice to the other party, and to the complainant if the matter relates to a complaint. Only CRPNBC and the registrant may be parties to an appeal.
Appeals to the Supreme Court consist of a “review on the record” (a review of evidence as heard by the Discipline Committee) unless the court is satisfied that a new hearing or the admission of further evidence is necessary in the interests of justice.
On the hearing of an appeal, the Supreme Court may:
- confirm, vary or reverse the decision of the Discipline Committee,
- refer the matter back to the Discipline Committee, with or without directions, or
- make any other order it considers appropriate in the circumstances.
A decision of the Supreme Court may be appealed to the Court of Appeal if leave to appeal is granted by a justice of the Court of Appeal.
In serious cases, CRPNBC must notify the public of certain actions taken by the Inquiry or Discipline committees (see section 39.3 of the Act). This information is currently published on CRPNBC’s website under Inquiry and Discipline Outcomes.