The College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario is responsible for addressing complaints and other concerns about the conduct, competence and capacity of its members.
Some complaints or concerns may raise the possibility that a member is incapacitated. “Incapacitated” is defined in the Health Professions Procedural Code, which is Schedule 2 of the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991. Incapacitated means that the member is suffering from a physical or mental condition or disorder that makes it desirable in the interest of the public that the member’s Certificate of Registration be subject to terms, conditions or limitations, or that the member no longer be permitted to practise.
If the Registrar or a panel of the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC) believes that a member may be incapacitated, the matter will be referred to a Health Inquiry Panel. A Health Inquiry Panel is a panel of the ICRC whose task is to inquire specifically into whether a member is incapacitated. The Health Inquiry Panel may seek documentary evidence, obtain witness statements and interview the member. If the panel has reasonable and probable grounds to suspect that the member is incapacitated, it can require the member to undergo an examination by a regulated health professional to assess their condition.
The Health Inquiry Panel has several dispositions available to it. It may:
- recommend a disciplinary investigation;
- issue advice or a caution;
- enter into an agreement with the member that safeguards the public interest;
- take no action; or
- if the concerns are serious and there is sufficient evidence to indicate that the member is incapacitated, refer the member to a Fitness to Practise hearing.
Fitness to Practise Committee
The Fitness to Practise Committee conducts hearings into allegations of member incapacity.
A fitness hearing is a formal legal process. Evidence is presented to a panel of at least three Fitness to Practise Committee members, including members of the profession and members of the public appointed to the College’s Council by the Lieutenant Governor-in-Council.
The College is represented by a lawyer who leads the case. The member is advised to retain a competent representative, but may choose to be self-represented. In addition, the panel has its own legal advisor, known as Independent Legal Counsel (ILC), who is independent of the College and the Member.
Careful preparation goes into conducting a hearing. The names of witnesses, documentary evidence and the reports of expert witnesses must be disclosed in advance, both by the College and the member. In addition, pre-hearing conferences may be held to discuss whether any issues can be settled or simplified in advance of the hearing.
Fitness hearings are generally held in private, i.e. not open to the public.
If a member is found to be incapacitated, the Fitness to Practise Committee may make one or more of the following orders:
- direct the Registrar to revoke the member’s Certificate of Registration;
- direct the Registrar to suspend the member’s Certificate of Registration; or
- direct the Registrar to impose specified terms, conditions and limitations on the member’s Certificate of Registration for a specified or indefinite period of time.
Rules of Procedure of the Fitness to Practise Committee
The Fitness to Practise Committee has Rules of Procedure that govern how fitness hearings are conducted and are reviewed by the Committee periodically.