Determining members' suitability to practiSe

1. Effective Date

1.1. This policy takes effect on January 1, 2016.

2. Context

2.1. This policy is relevant to the paragraphs 42.12, 42.13, and 42.14 of By-Law No. 1: General of the College of Dietitians of Ontario (the “College”) which require the following information to be made publically available on the College’s website:

42. 12. A summary of any currently existing charges against a member, of which the College is aware, in respect of a federal, provincial or other offence that the Registrar believes is relevant to the member’s suitability to practise;

42. 13. A summary of any currently existing conditions, terms, orders, directions or agreements relating to the custody or release of the member in respect of provincial or federal offence processes of which the College is aware and that the Registrar believes is relevant to the member’s suitability to practise; 

42.14. A summary of any findings of guilt, of which the College is aware, made by a court against a member in respect of a provincial, federal or other offence that the Registrar believes is relevant to the member’s suitability to practise; (emphasis added).

The purpose of this policy is to provide some clarity regarding what information may be determined to be “relevant to [a] member’s suitability to practise” for both members and members of the public.

2.2. Through these by-law provisions, the Council of the College delegated to the Registrar & Executive Director (the “Registrar”) the authority to determine if a charge, bail condition or conviction is related to a member’s suitability to provide safe and ethical dietetics services.  Information about any charge, bail condition or conviction that is so determined will be published on the Register of Dietitians on the College’s website. This policy sets out the parameters and criteria, to the extent possible, which guide the Registrar’s exercise of discretion in determining what charges, bail conditions and offences are relevant to a safe and ethical dietetics practice. This policy has been developed out of the College’s commitment to ensure that it delivers its mandate of protecting the public in a manner that is transparent and fair.

3. Policy Statement and objectives

3.1. This policy sets out criteria that will be considered by the Registrar when determining whether or not certain information as outlined above (charges, bail conditions and convictions) is relevant to dietetics practice and would therefore trigger publication of the information on the Register of Dietitians. The objective of the policy is to set out criteria for the Registrar to consider in determining the relevance to dietetics practice that are fair and consistent in their application.

4. Criteria

4.1. The Registrar will determine relevance to suitability to practise by considering the following factors:

  • Whether the offence occurred while practising the profession;
  • Whether there is any connection to the profession such that it would bring disgrace and dishonour to it;
  • Whether the offence put an individual or the public at risk;
  • Whether the offence is part of a pattern of behaviour or an isolated event;
  • Whether the offence can be seen to present a risk to people in the practice setting of the member; and/or
  • Whether the offence suggests discrimination, disregard or disrespect for people based on a ground protected by the Human Rights Code (race, colour, ancestry, creed (religion), place of origin, ethnic origin, citizenship, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity), sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status, disability, receipt of public assistance).

There may be other factors not listed here that will be considered relevant in individual circumstances.

4.2. The nature and seriousness of the offence will be taken into account when considering the above factors. For example, in Canada, criminal offences are divided into indictable, summary or hybrid. Indicatable offences are more serious crimes and generally come with more serious penalties. Summary offences are less serious crimes and generally carry lighter penalties (e.g., smaller fines or less jail time). Hybrid offences can be dealt with either as an indictable offence or summary offence as determined by the prosecution taking into account the circumstances of the crime and the impact on the victim.

It is more likely that indictable offences and hybrid offences that are proceeded with as indictable offences will be determined to be relevant to a member’s suitability to practise. However, many summary offences may also be relevant to suitability to practise. Regardless of whether an offence is indictable, summary or hybrid, the information and circumstances of each case will be considered to determine relevant to suitability to practise.

4.3. For bail conditions, the Registrar would consider, in addition to the above as appropriate, whether the conditions limit or could limit a member’s ability to practise dietetics ethically and safely (e.g., if the condition was that the member not associate with a certain group of the population).

4.4. In applying the criteria, the Registrar should assess the available information and make a decision related to risk of harm keeping in mind the following:

  • Does the nature of the charge, bail condition or offence pose a risk of physical, mental, financial or other harm? – e.g., the member has allegedly sexually abused a client, offences related to fraud, assault, child luring;
  • Is there a pattern as demonstrated in the frequency and repeated behaviour that would show impaired judgement or disregard for safety of the public; e.g., repeated driving under the influence (DUI), or repeated shoplifting?

The Registrar will determine whether the particular charge, bail condition or conviction is relevant to the member's ability to provide safe and ethical dietetic services.  If the information raises no apparent concerns (e.g., a traffic infraction/offence that does not involve risk of harm to the public when practising dietetics), the Registrar may determine that the information not be published in the Register of Dietitians. In circumstances where it is not clear whether or not the threshold of relevance has been met, the Registrar will seek suitable advice - for example, by consulting with legal counsel and/or other health profession colleges.

5. Application

5.1.Once it has been determined by the Registrar that information about a charge, bail conditions or a conviction is relevant to a member’s suitability to practise, a summary of that information will be posted on the Register of Dietitians.

5.2. Recognizing that an important premise of our legal system is that individuals are innocent until proven guilty, the College will include a notation on the Register of Dietitians to the effect that a charge may be withdrawn by the police or an individual may be found not guilty in a court proceeding.

5.3. Although this policy has been developed to be applied in the context of paragraphs 42.12, 42.13 and 42.14 of College By-Law No. 1, it may also be referenced when determining relevance to “suitability to practise” in the context of certain provisions of the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (e.g., section 23(7) of the Health Professions Procedural Code) as appropriate.

6. Exceptions

6.1. It is unlikely that information regarding charges, bail conditions or convictions would or could identify victims or alleged victims or other individuals. However, in appropriate cases, information may not be published if it would or could identify a victim, particularly a victim of abuse, including sexual abuse or other innocent party. In such cases, as much information as possible will be published in order to maintain transparency but without infringing on the privacy of others.

7. Monitoring

7.1. The policy will be monitored annually.