■ Principles of assistance:

Criminal and sexual impropriety matters

Published October 2009 / Reviewed August 2013 / Updated July 2020

The following outlines the CMPA’s principles of assistance for members facing criminal charges (which may include charges of a sexual nature) or non-criminal allegations of sexual impropriety, or both.

Like all Canadians, members should be considered innocent until proven guilty. CMPA assistance provides defence in these matters and is based on an initial presumption of innocence.

1. Criminal matters

Unrelated to medical professional work

In accordance with the CMPA By-law, the CMPA does not assist its members who face criminal charges unrelated to their medical professional work. This would include a charge of assault outside the doctor-patient professional relationship, as well as fraud or other alleged criminal activity unrelated to medical professional work. Members in these circumstances will require legal assistance on a private client basis with non-CMPA legal counsel and will be personally responsible for the legal costs.

Arising from medical professional work

Members

In circumstances where members can demonstrate that the criminal charges arose from their medical professional work, the Association will generally exercise its discretion to assist. When the CMPA does provide assistance, payment from the CMPA is limited to the legal costs of the defence; the CMPA does not pay bail, fines, or other related costs.

Eligible member-owned clinics

In circumstances where an eligible CMPA member-owned clinic faces criminal proceedings, the CMPA will generally decline to extend assistance. Such criminal charges are rare. Members should contact the CMPA to determine their eligibility for assistance in such situations.

Members’ employees

When employees of CMPA members or employees of eligible CMPA member-owned clinics are facing a criminal matter, the CMPA will generally not provide assistance unless the member can demonstrate that the employee was acting within his or her scope of employment in support of the member’s medical professional work. The CMPA does not pay bail, fines, or other related costs.

Findings of guilt

In the event of a criminal finding of guilt1, the CMPA will generally withdraw assistance with related matters (e.g. College, health authority or hospital, civil action) for which assistance had previously been granted and that arise from the same facts to which the criminal finding relates.

The CMPA will generally deny assistance with future related matters (e.g. College, health authority or hospital, civil action) that arise from the same facts to which the criminal finding of guilt relates.2

2. Non-criminal allegations of sexual impropriety

Civil matters

Members

In civil matters alleging sexual impropriety where members can demonstrate that the allegations arose from their medical professional work, the CMPA will generally exercise its discretion to assist in defending the action. The CMPA does not pay any settlements, judgments, or awards of costs, or any portion thereof, that are based on any allegation or finding that the member engaged in sexual impropriety.

Eligible member-owned clinics

In circumstances where an eligible CMPA member-owned clinic faces a civil action with allegations of sexual impropriety, the CMPA may extend assistance to the clinic owners when the matter arises from allegations against a member or a clinic employee acting within his or her scope of employment in support of the member’s medical professional work. The CMPA does not pay any settlements, judgments, or awards of costs on behalf of the clinic owners, or any portion thereof, which are based on any allegation or finding that the member or the clinic employee engaged in sexual impropriety.

Members’ employees

In circumstances where a CMPA member’s employee is named in civil litigation with allegations of sexual impropriety, the CMPA may extend assistance where the employee was acting within his or her scope of employment in support of the member’s medical professional work. The CMPA does not pay any settlements, judgments, or awards of costs, or any portion thereof, which are based on any allegation or finding that the employee engaged in sexual impropriety.

Regulatory authority (College) matters, and health authority or hospital matters

The CMPA will generally exercise its discretion to provide assistance to members facing complaints and disciplinary proceedings at a regulatory College, or a health authority or hospital where the allegations arise from medical professional work.

Assistance will not generally be available for College matters primarily arising from business or personal issues. The CMPA does not pay costs or fines arising from such proceedings.

Findings of sexual impropriety

In the event a finding is made in a non-criminal matter that a member engaged in sexual impropriety, this finding will affect the member’s eligibility for the Association’s assistance with any other legal matters arising from the same facts giving rise to the sexual impropriety finding.

In particular, the CMPA will generally withdraw assistance and/or decline further assistance with any other legal matters arising from the same facts in which the burden of proof is lower (i.e. balance of probabilities instead of beyond a reasonable doubt).

For example, if a College makes a finding of sexual impropriety, the CMPA will generally decline to assist with any health authority or hospital matter relating to the same facts that led to the College finding. Assistance may also be withdrawn in a related civil action unless the civil action includes allegations of medical negligence against the member.2


References

  1. The CMPA deems a criminal ‘finding’ to arise when there is a conviction by a court or a guilty plea entered in court and where all appeals supported by the CMPA have been exhausted.
  2. The CMPA always maintains the discretion to assist with existing or future related matters that arise from the same facts to which a finding relates.

In accordance with the CMPA Bylaw, the CMPA maintains full discretion to extend or decline assistance in every case.


DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this learning material is for general educational purposes only and is not intended to provide specific professional medical or legal advice, nor to constitute a "standard of care" for Canadian healthcare professionals. The use of CMPA learning resources is subject to the foregoing as well as the CMPA's Terms of Use.