Dialogue Volume 15, Issue 2 2019 | Page 23

RIGHT-TOUCH REGULATION College asks government for reduction in red tape Strategy will achieve a more effective, efficient regulatory body T he College has asked the Ontario government for greater discretion to triage complaints that would allow us to focus regulatory activity on those complaints that most impact public safety. In a letter to Christine Elliott, the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, the College noted our recent adoption of right-touch regu- lation and our efforts to improve the timeli- ness and effectiveness of core regulatory functions – including investigations. However, in order to achieve the best possi- ble results, the College asked the government to modernize the Regu- lated Health Professions Act and provide us with more discretion to focus our regulatory actions on the most seri- ous patient safety concerns. To achieve this, the College requires greater discretion to manage complaints that are frivolous and unrelated to professional conduct or patient care. Currently, the College is required to fully investigate all complaints, regardless of their seriousness, unless they are deemed to be frivo- lous or vexatious. Even complaints triaged as “frivolous or vexatious” can take several weeks to resolve because of the bureaucratic process. As a result, the College can – and is – drawn into conflicts that are unrelated to the duty to protect the public interest on issues of clinical care or professional behaviour. A recent example is the campaign by fire- arm advocates encouraging individuals to file complaints with the College about physicians advocating for system-level change on gun control – a public health and safety-related issue. The College received more than 70 complaints about one particular physician’s advocacy work. Although those complaints were ultimately triaged as “frivolous and vexatious,” manag- ing such complaints puts an unnecessary squeeze on College resources. “The CPSO’s legislated complaints process is intended to focus on clinical care or professional be- havior. Our role is not to resolve political disagreements when clinical care/outcomes or professional conduct is not in question,” says Dr. Nancy Whitmore, College Regis- trar/CEO. The College made several other requests in its submission, including asking for the authority to make rules on issues within our core mandate (registration, advertising, standards of practice, and quality assurance), instead of making regulations. This will allow us to nimbly respond to changing practice environments. “Our recommendations to reduce red tape and modernize Ontario’s health regulatory structure will help to better serve patients and bolster the integrity of Ontario’s health regula- tory system,” said Dr. Whitmore. MD ISSUE 2, 2019 DIALOGUE 23