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New laws strengthen patient protection in Ontario

Effective May 30, 2017, the Ontario government passed the Protecting Patients Act, 2017. The College of Nurses of Ontario (the College) supports the act and its intent to eradicate the sexual abuse of patients by health professionals. We have made or are making all necessary adjustments to our processes in order to implement the required changes as quickly as possible. 

This act includes changes to the Regulated Health Professionals Act (RHPA) in response to the recommendations from the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care’s Sexual Abuse Task Force. Changes that take affect include the following: 

  • Fines increased for failing to report

Employers or health care professionals who fail to report an allegation of sexual abuse will now face increased fines. We will be regularly reminding employers and members of their obligation to report, and when appropriate, will notify the Ministry if we become aware of a failure to report.

  • Additional information on Find a Nurse

The College is already posting on the public register most of what is required in the new act. We will be including if a member is registered in other professions. Also, when a discipline hearing results in no finding of professional misconduct or incompetence, that outcome will be posted to Find a Nurse. Some information, such as oral cautions or if a nurse is required to complete education or other remedial activities will now remain on the register.

  • The College can order an interim suspension sooner in the process

If it is determined that a member’s conduct or physical or mental state is likely to expose patients to harm or injury, the College can suspend the member. With the passing of the act, they can now do this earlier in the process. In addition, there is now an expanded list of acts of sexual abuse that will result in a mandatory revocation of a nurse’s registration.

  • Government access to personal health information

To determine if the College is fulfilling its duties or if action is required (such as changing a regulation or appointing a supervisor to oversee the process), the Minister may request the College to provide information. This information could include personal and personal health details about a nurse. We are reviewing if we will need to make any changes to our bylaws or processes. 

The College's guide, Addressing Complaints at the College of Nurses of Ontario, provides information for members of the public who want to make a complaint about a nurse’s conduct. 

Reporting provides information for employers, facility operators and nurses, who have an obligation to report incidents of sexual abuse, incompetence or incapacity. 

We will be updating both guides in the next few days to reflect changes from the new act. 

The College will continue to offer our expertise to the Ministry as it reviews further potential changes.

Page last reviewed May 31, 2017