Ontario Taking Action to Prevent Sexual Abuse of Patients
Changes to Legislation to Protect and Support Patients
Ontario is taking concrete action to uphold and reinforce a zero tolerance policy on sexual abuse of patients by any regulated health professional.
In fall 2016, Ontario intends to bring forward legislative amendments that would:
- Add to the expanded list of acts that will result in the mandatory revocation of a regulated health professional's license
- Remove the ability of a college to allow a regulated health professional to continue to practice on patients of one gender after an allegation or finding of sexual abuse
- Increase fines for health professionals and organizations that fail to report a suspected case of patient sexual abuse to a college
- Increase transparency by adding to what colleges must report on their public register and website
- Clarify the time period after the end of a patient-provider relationship in which sexual relations are prohibited
- Fund patient therapy and counselling from the moment a complaint of sexual abuse is made.
The government's actions are based on recommendations from the Minister's Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Patients and the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991.
In the immediate term, Ontario will also engage an expert to work with the province to improve the processes that health regulatory colleges must follow when dealing with sexual abuse complaints, investigations and disciplinary measures.
Ontario will bring forward further measures by winter 2017 to:
- Identify more ways for patients to participate in the complaints, investigation and discipline processes at health regulatory colleges
- Enhance knowledge and education among the public, patients and health professionals.
The province will consult with key partners, including patients, to make policy and program changes throughout the health system to uphold and reinforce a zero tolerance policy on sexual abuse of patients by any regulated health professional.
Strengthening the prevention of, and the response to, sexual abuse of patients is part of the province's commitment to protect patients through its Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care. It also supports It's Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence and Harassment, which is helping to ensure that everyone in the province can live in safety - free from the threat, fear or experience of sexual violence and harassment.
- The province appointed the Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Patients and the Regulated Health Professions Act,1991 in December 2014. This Task Force submitted a report entitled To Zero: Independent Report of the Minister’s Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Patients and the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991. The government’s actions are based on the Task Force’s recommendations from this report.
- The Task Force included human rights advocate Professor Marilou McPhedran, Chair, and educator and registered nurse Sheila Macdonald.
“Acts of professional misconduct involving the sexual abuse of a patient are deplorable – and I will do everything necessary to protect patient safety. These concrete actions will increase transparency and help prevent and better respond to sexual violence and harassment in Ontario. I will continue to work in partnership with our health regulatory colleges, health care professionals, educators and patients to implement these changes.”