Health PEI’s private contract with physicians not subject to judicial review: PEI Supreme Court

Judicial review is limited to decisions involving state authority and public character: court

Health PEI’s private contract with physicians not subject to judicial review: PEI Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island dismissed a general surgeon’s judicial review application, ruling that Health PEI's decision to place her on administrative leave stemmed from a private contract, not state authority, and thus was not subject to judicial review.

Dr. Lygia Perron began working at Prince County Hospital as a locum physician in 2019 and later under a contract from February 2020. Her contract, which designated her as an independent contractor, was subject to Health PEI Medical Staff Bylaws and the Master Agreement between Health PEI and the Medical Society. Health PEI, a Crown corporation established under the Health Services Act, retained administrative authority and management rights not specifically modified by the agreement.

Between January 2022 and October 2023, Health PEI received numerous complaints about Dr. Perron’s conduct, including patient safety incidents and workplace issues. Due to these concerns, Health PEI placed her on administrative leave. Dr. Perron argued that this decision was made under the authority of the Medical Staff Bylaws, thereby engaging public interest and subject to judicial review.

Health PEI contended that the decision was purely administrative and stemmed from their contractual relationship with Dr. Perron. They asserted it was a private legal matter and not subject to judicial review under the Judicial Review Act, which requires the authority conferred on a tribunal by an enactment.

The Supreme Court had to determine whether Health PEI’s decision was an exercise of state authority with a public character, making it subject to judicial review. The court cited a Supreme Court of Canada decision, which clarified that judicial review is only available for decisions involving state authority and public character.

The court found that Health PEI acted within its contractual rights, which did not involve any delegated state authority. The decision to place Dr. Perron on administrative leave was based on her private contract for services with Health PEI, not on any statutory authority. Therefore, the court ruled it did not have jurisdiction to review the decision under the Judicial Review Act.

The court concluded that Health PEI’s decision did not have a sufficiently public character to warrant judicial review. The court noted that the decision did not impact Dr. Perron’s medical staff privileges or licensing status but merely limited the services she was required to provide under her contract. Consequently, Dr. Perron’s application for judicial review was dismissed, and she was directed to seek remedies under private law if she wished to challenge Health PEI’s actions.

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