The Health Professions Act sets out the process by which the College investigates and resolves complaints. Investigations are led by a Board appointed Inquiry Committee. In the event that a complaint proceeds to a discipline hearing, resolutions are determined by a Board appointed Discipline Committee.
Both committees consist of registered pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, College Board members and members of the public, and gain their authority from the Health Professions Act as well as the Pharmacy Operations and Drug Scheduling Act.
The Inquiry Committee
The College’s Inquiry Committee investigates complaints and concerns regarding a registrants conduct, competency and/or ability to practice and decide on an appropriate course of action pursuant to legislation.
Responsibilities of the Inquiry Committee:
- Investigate complaints on its own motion or raised by a complainant within timelines as prescribed by the Minister;
- Investigate registrants that fail to authorize a criminal records review check as well as registrants presenting a risk of physical or sexual abuse to the vulnerable sector as determined by the Registrar of the Criminal Records Review Act;
- Make dispositions on matters investigated;
- Inform registrants, complainants, the public and the Health Professions Review Board (as required) about the inquiry process and complaint outcomes.
The Discipline Committee
The College’s Discipline Committee hears and makes determinations of matters referred to the committee regarding a registrants conduct, competency and/or ability to practice, pursuant to legislation.
Responsibilities of the Discipline Committee:
- Conduct hearings of a matter;
- Determine disposition of the matter;
- Inform respondents, complainants and the public about action taken;
- Inform respondents and complainants about the discipline process as applicable.
After contacting the College about a complaint, if a complaint requires an investigation, the complainant will be asked to provide a formal written complaint to the Registrar using the College’s complaint form.
Once a formal complaint is received, it is taken to the Inquiry Committee for “direction to investigate” the matter.
The formal complaint is presented to the registrant(s), who has the opportunity to respond. The registrants’ responses are then provided to the complainant.
The complaints team gathers all relevant information. This step may, but is not limited to include telephone conversations, in-person interviews, and gathering of pharmacy records, PharmaNet patient profiles.
Next, a report is prepared for the Inquiry Committee to review.
Extraordinary action to protect public
If the Inquiry Committee believes there is an immediate risk to public safety, it may take extraordinary action to protect the public, pursuant to Section 35 of the Health Professions Act.
The Inquiry Committee may impose limits or conditions or suspend the registration of the registrant in order to protect the public during the investigation or pending a hearing of the Discipline Committee.
The College will also notify the public of the risk and any restrictions imposed.
Inquiry Committee Review and DISPOSITION
After the investigation is complete, the Inquiry Committee reviews the complaint and determines the appropriate actions needed to resolve the complaint.
Following Section 33(6) of the Health Professions Act, after considering any information provided by the registrant, the Inquiry Committee may decide to:
- Take no further action if the Inquiry Committee is of the view that the matter is trivial, frivolous, vexatious or made in bad faith or that the conduct or competence to which the matter relates in satisfactory,
- In the case of an investigation respecting a complaint, take any action it considers appropriate to resolve the matter between the complainant and the registrant,
- Act under section 36 of the Health Professions Act, or
- Direct the registrar to issue a citation under section 37 of the Health Professions Act.
INQUIRY COMMITTEE DIRECTS REGISTRAR TO ISSUE A CITATION
The Registrar may issue a citation for a Discipline Committee hearing in instances where the Inquiry Committee has determined an issue to be serious, a consensual agreement cannot be reached with the registrant, or the registrant has not responded to the complaint.
The citation is a formal document that lists the allegations against the registrant and provides notice that there will be a public hearing before the Discipline Committee.
Even after a citation is issued, the registrant can make a proposal to the Inquiry Committee to resolve the complaint, such as a reprimand or remedial action requested by the Inquiry Committee.
Citations are published under Discipline Hearing Notifications on the College’s website 2-4 weeks prior to hearing.
Learn more about our public notification requirements.
DISCIPLINE COMMITTEE DECISION
The College’s Discipline Committee hears complaints that are referred by the Inquiry Committee. The Discipline Committee hears the complaint regarding a registrants conduct, competency and/or ability to practice and makes a determination on how to resolve the issue.
Discipline Committee hearings are required to be public by the Health Professions Act. In some cases, a hearing, or parts thereof, may be held in private upon the request of the complainant or registrant if the Discipline Committee deems it appropriate under the circumstances.
Once the Discipline Committee has completed its hearing, it may, by order, dismiss the matter or:
- reprimand the registrant;
- impose limits or conditions on the registrant’s pharmacy practice;
- suspend the registrant’s registration;
- subject to bylaws, impose limits of conditions on the management of the respondent’s practice during the suspension;
- cancel the registrant’s registration;
- fine the registrant in an amount not exceeding the maximum fine established in the Health Professions Act.
The College publishes Discipline Committee hearing outcomes under Complaints Outcomes on the College’s website.
Learn more about our public notification requirements.