Ontario court decision could define restrictions on doctor’s freedom nationwide

Three Ontario doctors are at risk of losing their licenses for criticizing COVID-19 public health recommendations

Three doctors in Ontario are fighting to keep their licenses, and the outcome of that battle could have far-reaching consequences.

Doctors have been accused of defying COVID-19 public health recommendations and openly opposing them. They are one of hundreds of doctors across the country facing similar scrutiny by their respective state physicians and surgeons.

Attorney Michael Alexander told the Epoch Times that the university has jointly imposed three main restrictions on doctors amid the pandemic: Doctors must not speak publicly against official health recommendations. An alternative drug to treat COVID-19.

While these are “recommendations,” Alexander said, the university has treated them as criteria for judging “professional misconduct” (specific violations of law) and prosecuting doctors accordingly.

“These are just people who have chosen not to follow the ‘recommendations,'” Alexander says of three Ontario clients: Dr. Crystal Luchkiw, Dr. Brian Phillips and Dr. Mark Trozzi. “I never violate any rules of professional misconduct.”

Meanwhile, the Medical College of Ontario (CPSO) claims it has the legal right to determine when doctors put people at risk and can take disciplinary action.

“Universities have a duty under the law to protect the public and act with care and reason to carry out that mandate,” spokeswoman Shay Greenfield said in an email to the Epoch Times. I will continue,” he said.

Potential Nationwide Impact

At a CPSO court hearing on Nov. 23, which drew more than 17,000 viewers online, Alexander raised the issue of ignoring “recommendations” and ignoring “professional misconduct.” . As a constitutional attorney, he also argued that prosecution of his client would violate the charter or rights and freedoms. will be

“If the court decides that the university cannot prosecute people for acting contrary to the ‘suggestion and recommendation,’ every investigative order they write against all doctors currently being investigated or prosecuted for COVID will be nullified.-19,” said Alexander. “All of them will come to an end.”

Ontario’s decision could also affect how doctors across the country are prosecuted for not following the recommendations, Alexander says, because universities in all the provinces worked together to develop the recommendations.

“Universities are basically implementing health policies around COVID-19 for the government,” Alexander said. “The university regulates how he 38 million people in our country get medicine. It’s not just hundreds of doctors. He in this country 38 million people have access to medical care.” We are limiting our methods.”

The court has no deadline to make a decision, but it is expected to do so in the coming weeks. If the court finds Alexander’s claims valid, the case will be dropped and the doctor will have his license reinstated. If Alexander’s claims are dismissed, the doctors will face a full-scale investigation and trial to rule on the allegations of wrongdoing.

A wrongdoing trial against Luchkiw, Phillips, and Trozzi would be less important on a large scale than this preliminary trial to determine whether they should be prosecuted. That’s because a pretrial decision could affect the power of the University of Ontario, and perhaps every other university across the nation, to restrict a doctor’s freedom of speech and practice. A trial in a particular case would certainly have a large impact on the three doctors, but it would not have such a widespread impact.

Ontario Court Decision

This case is unusual in several respects. First, it is part of the CPSO’s new process for disciplinary action against physicians.

university reformed the court Previously it consisted only of university representatives, but now it consists of an independent jury. Reforms to the disciplinary system have also created these pretrial options for determining whether a case should actually go to trial, Alexander said. This is also an opportunity for the courts to investigate restrictions on the university’s right to disciplinary prosecution of doctors.

Alexander said he took advantage of this option, but also made the unusual move of taking the case to the Ontario Superior Court during the pretrial stage. He said he could only be tried by a court if he did.

The court agreed to hear the case, which showed some merit, Alexander said. “Just appearing in court at the investigation stage… [is] It’s a very rare occurrence,” he said.

nevertheless The court handed down its ruling on October 12 Support the university’s decision to prosecute the doctor.

With similar results for the other two doctors, they found “sufficient reasonable and probable grounds to believe that Dr. Luchkiw committed professional misconduct or was incompetent.”

The Court further noted that “guidelines such as those established by the NACI [National Advisory Committee on Immunization] and MOH [Ministry of Health]informs standards of practice and may be considered by [College]This suggests that universities can use guidelines as the basis for medical practice and strengthen their power beyond “recommendations.”

The court so ruled, but the court is being asked to make a more definitive decision.

Court decisions on university matters are limited, explained Alexander and CPSO’s Greenfield. Courts rely, in many respects, on the professional expertise of universities and their ability to make better decisions for medical professionals than the court system could. The court must decide from a position within its expertise how the university will handle COVID-19-related misconduct cases.

freedom of speech

Complaints against all three doctors include speaking critically of COVID-19 public health recommendations on podcasts and social media pages.

The CPSO previously claimed In assessing this case, freedom of expression can be limited to some extent in regulating the health profession and complying with its mandate to protect the public. Groia v. Upper Canada Law AssociationThis made it possible to “balance the protection of the charter with the statutory powers of decision-makers.”

Alexander said his response to this allegation was that “the Supreme Court has given priority protection to freedom of expression. is unlikely to prove that there are circumstances under which free speech can be regulated.”

As a constitutional attorney, he has considered all major cases involving freedom of expression for the past 70 years. and especially speech that causes immediate violence or physical harm.

“The word ‘immediate’ is important,” he said. He does not believe these instances are applicable to his client’s case.

The Epoch Times asked CPSO attorney Elisabeth Widner and her spokesperson to comment on the restrictions on doctors’ free speech, but did not specifically respond to the question.

Alexander cites another precedent, Strom v. Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association, where nurses were accused of making public comments on COVID-19 public health recommendations.

Judge Barrington-Foote, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeals judge in the case, ruled in her favor, stating:

“Indeed, those who have the deepest knowledge of this large and opaque system and the ability to effect change are those who are ready and allowed to speak and pursue positive change. It can boost your confidence.”

At a November 23 hearing, Alexander said he was sure doctors and scientists knew the facts, but history showed they later discovered they were wrong. . This is why critical discussion is important, he said. “Universities are not omnipotent. No one. No one can monopolize the market based on truth.”

He also argues that two other CPSO restrictions (regarding the issuance of vaccine exemptions to prescribe drugs) violate the charter.

“[They] Violate the principle of informed consent. Informed consent is the right of doctors and patients to make decisions for themselves that are in the best interest of their health care and patients. “

Tara McIsaac


Tara MacIsaac is a Toronto-based reporter for the Epoch Times.