Doctor's reasonable bad faith allegation not automatically scandalous: Sask Court of Appeal

He underwent assessment to qualify for a regular license to practice medicine

Doctor's reasonable bad faith allegation not automatically scandalous: Sask Court of Appeal
Internationally trained doctors need to be assessed to practice medicine in Canada

The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal reinstated a statement of claim, ruling that a reasonable cause of action finding is inconsistent with a conclusion that the same cause of action is scandalous, frivolous, or vexatious.

In Solgi v College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan, 2022 SKCA 96, Dr. Ali Solgi was a family physician trained outside Canada. In 2015, he obtained the ability to participate in the Saskatchewan International Physician Practice Assessment program.

The program assessed internationally trained family physicians. Solgi completed the initial assessment and was granted a provisional license, which required him to practise under the supervision of another physician until he qualified for a regular license. He was also required to pass a summative assessment after the mandatory period of supervision.

The summative assessment was one of two paths to regular licensure. The other path involved certification by the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CCFP certification) and passing an examination.

Dr. Solgi began supervised practice in 2016, and his summative assessment started in January 2019.

In 2018, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan amended its bylaws so that those who had CCFP certification were no longer eligible for the summative assessment path.

In June 2019, Solgi advised the college that he had CCFP certification. He was, therefore, no longer eligible for the summative assessment route and was on the exam pathway to licensure.

However, the college took this communication as an indication that he was not practising under supervision, and because of this, Solgi’s provisional license was suspended. Solgi appealed to the college’s council, but it was dismissed.

Solgi sued the college. In his statement of claim, he alleged bad faith in how the college used its regulatory powers, the method and substance of the change, and bad faith in the decisions leading to the suspension of his license.

The college sought to have his claim struck in its entirety, alleging that it does not disclose a reasonable cause of action.

The judge found that the statement disclosed a reasonable cause of action but should be struck as being scandalous, frivolous, or vexatious, and an abuse of court processes.

On appeal, Solgi argued that the judge erred in his ruling.

The appellate court agreed.

The court said the lower court already found a reasonable cause of action based on tort, which meant the statement cannot be struck as scandalous. According to the court, allegations of bad faith in advancing a reasonable cause of action cannot be considered improper solely because it casts the object of the accusation in a bad light.

As for whether the claim was an abuse of process, the chambers judge’s conclusion ignores its prior determination that Solgi was pursuing a claim for a recognized cause of action, which is an abuse of public office.

As such, the appellate court set aside the order striking out Solgi’s statement of claim.

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