If the Complaints Director determines there is evidence of unprofessional conduct, they may refer a matter to a hearing. Hearings are part of the mandated conduct process in the Health Professions Act (HPA).
Hearings are open to the public, however, the Hearing Tribunal may order that all or part of the hearing be held in private. An application to close the hearing may be made by Conduct Counsel, the member's representative or even the Tribunal itself.
The member, complainant and any witnesses required to testify receive a Notice to Attend outlining the particulars of the allegations, the date, time and location of the hearing. While there may have been several issues investigated, only the allegations listed in the Notice to Attend will be addressed at the hearing.
Conduct Counsel will appear on behalf of the Complaints Director. Members may be represented by counsel (lawyer or labour relations officer) if they choose.
If there is a finding of unprofessional conduct, the Hearing Tribunal makes an Order to appropriately address the behaviours to ensure that the member is safe to practise and to protect the public. Both sides may make submissions on the Order to be made by the Hearing Tribunal.
A consent hearing occurs when the member admits to some or all of the allegations. The member’s representative negotiates with Conduct Counsel to prepare a written consent agreement listing those allegations to which the member admits. Usually, a full consent hearing includes a joint recommendation on sanction. The agreement is presented to the Hearing Tribunal who can accept, reject or ask questions about the agreement.
A partial consent hearing occurs when there is agreement on most things, but a dispute about one or more aspects of the case. For example, the member may agree that the behaviour in the allegation occurred, but does not agree that the behaviour amounts to unprofessional conduct.
Conduct Counsel calls witnesses to provide evidence that supports that the allegations occurred and that the allegations amount to unprofessional conduct. The member is entitled to bring witnesses to defend against the allegations. Each side has a right to cross-examine the witnesses of the other side. The member may be called by either side to testify.
After hearing all the evidence, the Hearing Tribunal deliberates and determines if the allegations have been proven, amounting to unprofessional conduct. If there is a finding of unprofessional conduct on at least one allegation, the Hearing Tribunal then hears submissions from each side regarding sanction. The Hearing Tribunal may provide an oral decision at the time of the hearing. A written decision which includes reasons is also provided in a reasonable time.