Is it a Crime to Practice Medicine with a Criminal Record?

December 20, 2017
Th consequences of a criminal record can have serious affects on a physician's or surgeon's medical licence.
Th consequences of a criminal record can have serious affects on a physician's or surgeon's medical licence.
  • It is not a crime in Ontario to practice medicine with a criminal record.
  • That being said, members of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario CPSO are asked each year by the college if they have been charged with or convicted of a criminal offence.
  • Should a physician or surgeon in Ontario face criminal offence charges they are required to disclose this information to the CPSO.
  • The information regarding the surgeon’s or physician’s criminal offence charges will then be relayed to the to the disciplinary committee.
  • Otherwise it is possible that the information about the physician’s or surgeon’s criminal record will come to light by way of a complaint made by someone who is aware of the criminal offence charge(s) to the CPSO complaints committee.
  • The CPSO does not have an official policy on what criminal charges constitutes a revocation of a physician’s or surgeon’s medical licence.
  • Ultimately the disciplinary committee will determine on a case-by-case basis whether the circumstances of the criminal offence charge(s) and/or conviction(s) are serious enough to cause revocation.
  • The CPSO states that it assesses the suitability of the physician or surgeon to practice medicine, with patient safety being the primary consideration in order to make such a determination .
  • The CPSO disciplinary monitors the progress of criminal offence charge(s) as they proceed before the court.
  • The outcome of the criminal offence charge(s) are considered by the disciplinary committee when they make a determination as to how the physician or surgeon should be disciplined and whether they should be able to maintain their medical licence.
  • A favourable outcome in the courts typically translates to a favourable determination by the disciplinary committee for the physician or surgeon

Please find below information from the CPSO website pertaining to criminal background checks and criminal records for members and the public:


1. The Council of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario affirms that all Ontario citizens have the right to receive and/or provide health care in a safe environment, free from intrusions or threats to their dignity or person. This right applies equally to members of the public, physicians and allied health professionals.

2. While the vast majority of physicians providing health services in Ontario have not and will not intentionally harm those in their care, or with whom they provide services, the Council asserts that the process of criminal record screening forms part of its legislated duty to regulate physicians in the public interest in order to help ensure the safety of all participants in the health system.

3. The Council acknowledges that the results of a criminal record screen may not be predictive of future behaviour and they cannot guarantee the good character of a physician or whether he or she might pose a future safety risk. Nevertheless, the Council endorses the criminal record screening policy as part of its efforts to promote the safety and quality of the health-care environment.

4. The Council supports the principles of openness and accountability. Criminal record screening provides official confirmation of information already self-reported by physicians on CPSO applications for certificates of practice. This official confirmation enhances the transparency of College processes and the accountability of the College and the profession to the public.

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1. As a requirement of registration all Ontario physicians must submit to a criminal record screen.

2. The screen will be completed by running a criminal record check against the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) computerized database at the time of application for a certificate of registration in the province of Ontario, or by receipt of a valid letter of clearance based on a CPIC check conducted no longer than six months before the date of submission of application to the College.

3. Criminal record screening is required in the following circumstances:

1. For all applicants for a first-time certificate of registration, regardless of class of registration; and

2. For CPSO members applying for a transfer in certificate class.

4. Positive findings arising from the criminal record screen will be considered for further action by the College based on the following criteria;

1. The time period of the conviction;

2. The seriousness of the offence; and

3. The relevance of the details of the offence to the practice of medicine.

5. The cost of conducting the criminal record screen will be borne by the applicant.

As of May 2015 the following information will be posted on the public register including:

• Criminal charges – this includes all Criminal Code and Health Insurance Act charges, where known to the College. Information will include the fact and content of the charge; and the place and date of the charge, if known.  This information will be removed when the charge is no longer outstanding.

• Cautions – a summary of any decision in which a caution is ordered by the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee for investigations commenced on or after January 1, 2015.  A caution is ordered when the Committee has a significant concern about conduct or practice that can have a direct impact on patient care, safety or the public interest if it is not addressed. It will also be noted if the decision has been appealed and, if the decision is overturned, it will be removed.

• Specified Continuing Education or Remediation Program orders (SCERPs) – if educational or remediation needs for a physician are identified by the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee and a voluntary agreement cannot be reached, a physician may be required to take a specified continuing education or remediation program (SCERP). This might include taking educational courses (e.g., opioid prescribing, medical record-keeping, and communications) or one-on-one instruction with another physician.  There may also be a reassessment component to ensure that remediation has been successful.  This information will be posted for investigations commenced on or after January 1, 2015.

• Discipline findings in other jurisdictions – where known to the College on or after September 1, 2015, information about the fact of the finding, the date of the finding, and the jurisdiction in which the finding was made will be posted on the public register.

• Licences in other jurisdictions – the College will post a notation of current medical licences held in other jurisdictions of which the College is aware (as of September 1, 2015).

Timeline of New Information Added to the CPSO Public Register


• Medical Records Location

• Notices of Hearing

• Hearing Status

• Reinstatement Decisions

• Outcome/Status of Out-of-Hospital Premises Inspections


• Criminal Convictions (as of June 1, 2015)

• Bail Conditions

• Illegal Practitioners


• Criminal Charges

• Cautions

• SCERPs (specified continuing education and remediation program)

• Licences and Discipline Findings – Other Jurisdictions

• Undertakings

  • If you have been charged with a criminal offence contact Kostman and Pyzer, Barristers today for your free consultation!
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