Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Ontario Physicians and Surgeons Discipline Tribunal (Tribunal)?
The Tribunal is like a court. It holds hearings and makes decisions about whether a physician committed an act of professional misconduct or is incompetent. It also decides applications from physicians who want their certificate of registration reinstated.
Is the Tribunal the same as the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario’s (CPSO) Discipline Committee?
Yes. On September 1, 2021, the Discipline Committee’s name changed to the Ontario Physicians and Surgeons Discipline Tribunal.
How does a case get to the Tribunal?
The CPSO investigates complaints received from the public. The College’s Registrar may also ask that a physician be investigated. The results of either investigation may be considered by CPSO’s Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC). The ICRC decides whether to refer any allegations to the Tribunal for a hearing.
What is a Notice of Hearing?
The Notice of Hearing is issued by CPSO and contains the College’s allegations against the physician.
Can I find out the allegations in a hearing?
What is a reinstatement hearing?
A physician whose certificate of registration was revoked or suspended by the Tribunal may apply to have it reinstated so they can return to the practice of medicine.
Who hears Tribunal cases?
The Tribunal usually hears cases in panels of five. It is made up of both physician and public members. Each panel is selected by the Chair and must include at least two public members and at least one physician member who are part of the Council of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.
The Tribunal’s Adjudicators webpage lists current Tribunal members.
What is an electronic hearing?
An electronic hearing can be held by telephone or videoconference. Members of the public can obtain a link to watch videoconference hearings by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is an in-person hearing?
An in-person hearing occurs when the parties, lawyers and panel are all physically present in the same place.
What is a self-represented party?
A physician who chooses to represent themselves at the Tribunal is a self-represented party.
What are the three types of Tribunal hearings?
There are three hearing types: merit, penalty and motion. The Tribunal also holds hearings on applications for reinstatement. Please see the Guide to the Tribunal Process for more detailed descriptions.
What is a merits hearing?
At a merits hearing, a Tribunal panel will hear evidence and submissions from the parties and decide whether CPSO has proven the allegations of professional misconduct and/or incompetence against the physician. For a more detailed description of the merits hearing, please see the Guide to the Tribunal Process.
Contested, uncontested, or partially contested hearings …. what’s the difference?
In a contested hearing, the physician denies the CPSO’s allegations.
In an uncontested hearing, the physician agrees with the facts CPSO says support the allegations and admits they amount to misconduct or incompetence. A physician may also plead “no contest” to the allegations. That means the physician doesn’t admit or deny the facts but isn’t “contesting” the finding of misconduct or incompetence.
In a partially contested hearing, CPSO and the physician agree on some issues, but not all. Usually, in a partially contested hearing, the physician admits, or does not contest, misconduct, but the parties do not agree on the penalty.
Can I find out if a hearing is contested or uncontested?
Yes. Contact the Tribunal Office by emailing email@example.com or call (416) 968-5173.
What is a motion?
When a party wants a decision from the Tribunal about an issue affecting the hearing, it must make a motion. See the Guide to the Tribunal Process for more information about motions.
What penalties can the Tribunal order?
The Tribunal can:
- revoke the physician’s certificate of registration, which means they can no longer work as a physician
- suspend the physician’s certificate of registration, which means they cannot work as a physician for a set time.
- impose terms, conditions and limitations on the physician’s certificate of registration, such as limitations on the physician’s practice, required training or monitoring.
- reprimand the physician.
- require the physician pay a fine of up to $35,000 to the Minister of Finance.
- if the act of professional misconduct was the sexual abuse of a patient, require the member to reimburse the College for funding provided to that patient for therapy and counselling.
Can the Tribunal order an immediate suspension of a physician’s certificate of registration?
Yes. Where the Tribunal finds certain types of sexual abuse of a patient occurred it must immediately suspend the physician’s certificate of registration. ICRC manages issues of interim suspension in other circumstances.
Is revocation for sexual abuse of a patient mandatory?
Section 51(5) of the Health Professions Procedural Code specifies acts of sexual abuse which, if proven, will result in revocation of the physician’s certificate of registration.
What is a joint submission on penalty?
This means the parties agree on the penalty and costs. They present their proposed joint submission on penalty to the Tribunal at the penalty hearing.
Can the Tribunal order a party to pay costs?
Yes. The Tribunal can order the physician to pay costs of the hearing and investigation to CPSO. The Tribunal may also order the College to pay costs to a physician if it decides the commencement of proceedings was unwarranted.
What is a reprimand?
In a reprimand, the panel speaks directly to the physician about their wrongdoing.
Can a member of the public watch a hearing or reprimand?
What happens if I am a witness at a hearing?
The panel chair will ask you to promise to tell the truth. The party who asked you to come to the hearing will question you, followed by the lawyer for the other side. See the Guide to the Tribunal Process for more information.
How long does the Tribunal take to reach a decision and release its reasons?
When the hearing is uncontested, the Tribunal usually announces its decision at the hearing and gives its reasons in writing later. When the hearing is contested, it will likely reserve its decision until a later date.
The Tribunal’s goal is to release written reasons — and its decision, if not given at the hearing — within 12 weeks of the last hearing day or last written submission.
Where can I find the Tribunal’s decisions and reasons?
Tribunal reasons and decisions, including decisions of the Tribunal’s predecessor, the Discipline Committee of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, are freely accessible and searchable on the Canadian Legal Information Institute’s (CanLII) website.
Can I access hearing documents?
Yes. The Notice of Hearing is posted to the physician’s profile on CPSO’s Public Register. If you’d like to purchase transcripts for a hearing, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out which court reporting company recorded the hearing.
A member of the public who wants any other document used in a hearing must make a motion to the Tribunal. See the Guide to the Tribunal Process for more information.
Who has the burden of proof in a Tribunal hearing?
In a merits hearing, CPSO has the burden of proof and must prove the allegations of misconduct or incompetence.
In a reinstatement application, the former member has the burden of proof and must prove their reinstatement is suitable.
What standard of proof applies?
The standard of proof in all Tribunal hearings is proof on a balance of probabilities, which is different from the criminal standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. For example, this means CPSO must show it is more likely than not that the alleged misconduct happened.