■ Principles of assistance:

Regulatory authority (College) matters

Published July 2020

Over the course of their careers, physicians may become involved in matters before their medical regulatory authority (College). College matters generally include complaints, investigations, discipline or fitness proceedings, and practice reviews.

The CMPA will generally assist members with College matters relating to the professional practice of medicine; however, CMPA assistance will not generally be available for matters primarily arising from business or personal issues.1 The CMPA also does not typically assist members in obtaining or regaining medical licenses and registration certificates.

When members face College matters for which they are eligible for assistance, they will be assisted by the Association’s knowledgeable and experienced physician advisors. In some cases where legal advice is required, the matter will be referred to legal counsel. While the CMPA may provide legal representation, it does not typically pay any fines, penalties, or other costs assessed against a member by the College (e.g. the College's costs for the hearing). The CMPA will also not typically assist members with an appeal or review of a College decision unless there are reasonable grounds to believe the physician was denied a fundamental procedural right (e.g. not being given an opportunity to respond to the allegations).

Undertakings or orders

In response to a complaint or investigation, the College may require a physician to sign an undertaking (or an agreement) or order the physician to take specific steps or refrain from doing something for a defined period of time. For example, the physician may be required to practise under supervision or to refrain from seeing certain patients.

Where a member enters into an undertaking with the College or is subject to an order, the member will be expected to comply with the undertaking or order. Failure to comply with an undertaking or order may affect a member’s eligibility for continued assistance from the CMPA with the issue related to the undertaking or order.

Sexual impropriety

Members are generally eligible for assistance from the CMPA to defend against allegations before the College of sexual impropriety related to the professional practice of medicine.

However, if a finding is made that the member engaged in sexual impropriety, 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 committee finds a member guilty of sexual impropriety, the CMPA will generally decline to assist with any health authority or hospital matter relating to the same facts. Assistance may also be withdrawn in any related civil action unless it includes allegations of medical negligence against the member.2

Criminal findings

The CMPA will generally withdraw assistance and/or decline to assist with a College matter following a guilty finding in a criminal proceeding arising from the practice of medicine where the College matter arises from the same facts that led to the criminal finding.


  1. Matters primarily arising from business and personal issues include such things as advertising, rental or leasing disputes, social media activity that falls outside health advocacy, employment issues, and marital and family disputes.
  2. The CMPA always maintains discretion to assist with existing or future related matters that arise from the same facts to which a finding relates.

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.