The Protecting Patients Act: Changes in Effect

August 10, 2017

The Ontario government passed Bill 87, the Protecting Patients Act on May 30, 2017. This legislation brought in several changes to how Colleges deal with matters of sexual abuse.

Changes that are in effect as of May 30, 2017:

  • Touching of a sexual nature of a patient’s genitals, anus, breasts or buttocks will now result in mandatory revocation of a certificate of registration
  • For findings of sexual abuse that do not result in revocation, the minimum penalty must include a suspension. Before the required minimum penalty included a caution only.
  • The following additional information will be available and maintained on a physiotherapist’s profile on the Public Register:
    • The date the member dies
    • Cautions and education and remedial activities that are ordered will remain on the member’s profile permanently
    • A copy of the specific allegations of every matter referred to the Discipline Committee that have not been fully resolved
    • When the Discipline Committee makes no finding of professional misconduct or incompetence, the outcome will be posted on the Public Register for 90 days
    • Findings of incapacity
  • The Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee can now order an interim suspension of a member when it receives a complaint or appoints an investigator. The Committee can do this if it feels that the member’s conduct or behaviour is likely to put patients at risk. Historically, the Committee could only order an interim suspension when the investigation was complete.
  • The Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee and the Discipline Committee can no longer impose gender-based restrictions (a male member can only practice on male patients or a female member can only practice on a female patient)
  • The fines for failing to report sexual abuse have increased to $50,000 for individuals and to $200,000 for corporations

Future Changes that will Come into Effect

  • Patients who complain about sexual abuse by a health professional may seek funding for therapy or counselling at the time a complaint or report is received, instead of having to wait until the Discipline Committee makes a finding
  • “Patient” in relation to sexual abuse is defined to include anyone who stopped seeking treatment from a member within one year. The government may set additional criteria to define a patient for the purposes of sexual abuse provisions
  • New mandatory self-reporting obligations will include:
    • Registration with all other regulatory bodies and any findings of professional misconduct or incompetence (but not incapacity) made by those bodies
    • All charges for an offence and any resulting bail conditions or other similar restrictions, or if restrictions have been agreed to by the practitioner