Doctors should make full and honest disclosures to their professional regulators: Ontario case

Physicians should be candid with regulators regarding specialisms of their practice: review board

Doctors should make full and honest disclosures to their professional regulators: Ontario case

The Health Professions Appeal and Review Board of Ontario has rejected a Nova Scotia doctor’s application for registration to practise in Ontario based on his misleading applications and incomplete disclosures to three different professional regulators.

In Yavari v College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, 2021 CanLII 212 (ON HPARB), the applicant received a degree from an Iranian university in 1997, then practised medicine in Tehran, Iran and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. In 2011, he emigrated to Canada. In 2012 and 2013, he completed both parts of the Medical Council of Canada Qualifying Examination. In 2013, he acquired a full medical licence in Nova Scotia, where he continues to practise family medicine.

The applicant filed three applications for registration to practice with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. While his first application, filed in 2015, was pending, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia issued a certificate of professional conduct stating that the applicant was recently the subject of a complaint investigation. The applicant then withdrew this first application.

In his second application, filed in 2017, the applicant indicated certain information that he had not previously reported in his 2015 application, including that he had practised in the UAE and that his licence had been revoked by the Nova Scotia college, with an opportunity to reapply in six months. The registration committee of the Ontario college rejected the registration application, stating that it was not satisfied that the applicant met the requirement under s. 2 of Ontario Regulation 865/93 of the Medicine Act, 1991, c. 30 (the Registration Regulation).

In his third application, filed in 2018, the applicant said that he had acquired a full medical licence in Nova Scotia pursuant to the Canadian Free Trade Agreement. The registration committee initially refused the application, and upon a reconsideration to investigate additional information, again denied the application in 2019, stating that such refusal would safeguard the public interest.

Upon review, the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board confirmed the 2019 decision of the Ontario college’s registration committee to refuse the application for registration, finding that the applicant did not satisfy the requirement under the s. 2(1)(b) of the Registration Regulation to show that his past and present conduct afforded reasonable grounds for the belief that he would practise medicine with decency, integrity and honesty in accordance with the law and would display an appropriately professional attitude.

The applicant had acknowledged that he filed misleading applications to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia, to the College of Family Physicians of Canada and to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. The review board said that, despite this acknowledgment, the applicant did not appear to grasp the importance of fully and truthfully making disclosures to these professional regulators. The applicant’s history also showed that he was not candid with the regulators regarding his practice specialisms, only belatedly admitting that he had practised as an emergency medicine specialist in the UAE.

The review board found that the applicant could not simply withdraw an application with false information then submit a new application with the expectation that his past conduct would not be considered. Consideration of past conduct has no limitation regarding the passage of time, the review board stressed.

The review board also said that the applicant’s agreement with the Nova Scotia college regarding the omissions in his application were not binding on the Ontario college, considering that they were distinct regulating bodies.

The review board then said that it was not persuaded by the letters of reference presented, which addressed the applicant’s clinical knowledge and diligence, but not his honesty and integrity.

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