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In a decision rendered on April 17th, 2020, the Ordre professionnel des médecins veterinaries du Québec’s Disciplinary Council decided that the Professional inspection committee (hereinafter the “PIC”) could not require a response or commentary from a veterinarian following the finalisation and transmission of the inspection report, as this situation is not specifically allowed by the Règlement sur le comité d’inspection professionnelle de l’Ordre professionnel des vétérinaires du Québec, the regulation governing the procedure applicable to professional inspections (Médecins vétérinaires (Ordre professionnel des) v. Michaud, 2020 QCCDMV 8).
The veterinarian in question was accused of having hindered the PIC by refusing or omitting to answer a correspondence sent to him by the PIC. It is important to note that the veterinarian had already answered numerous of the PIC’s correspondences following his inspection, but these responses were deemed to be unsatisfactory by the members of the committee. The last response provided by the veterinarian was received by the committee after the fixed deadline, which in turn, provoked the filing of a disciplinary complaint before the Disciplinary council.
The Disciplinary council, in application of the relevant jurisprudence on the subject, confirmed that section 90 of the Professional Code allows the Board of the directors of a professional order to determine, via regulation, the PIC’s procedure, notably the nomination of inspections and/or experts and the obligations that can be imposed on a professional by the PIC. The content of the regulation thus differs from one professional order to another and the powers belonging to a PIC are not unlimited.
La Règlement sur le comité d’inspection professionnelle de l’Ordre professionnel des vétérinaires du Québec provides that the inspectors and/or experts who can inspect must be members of the professional order for a minimum of five years. Otherwise, they are not legally authorised to take part in a professional inspection. It is the burden of the syndic, during the hearing of a disciplinary complaint alleging hindrance to the PIC’s work, to prove that the inspectors involved had the legal standing to inspect.
Although the Règlement provides that at the end of a particular inspection, a report is drafted by the inspectors involved, it does not include the veterinarian’s obligation to respond to the recommendations laid out in said report. This specific obligation, however, has been provided by regulations adopted by other professional orders.
As the Règlement does not authorise the PIC to require a response from the veterinarian to the recommendations contained in its report, the Disciplinary council decided that the committee had exceeded its powers by imposing delays and demanding a written response from the veterinarian in question.
Similarly, the PIC who does not respect the legal limits set out in its inspection regulation by using inspection methods that are not specifically mentioned therein, also exceeds its powers. In order words, the inspection method used by the PIC, whether it be a structured interview, a profile questionnaire or an exam, must be specifically provided by the regulation in order for the inspection to be legal.
In the case of the veterinarians, the Règlement does not allow the PIC to use mock cases in order to evaluate the veterinarian’s knowledge during an inspection.
By not responding to the PIC’s correspondence within the delay allotted to him, following the illegal inspection conducted via a method not specifically mentioned by the regulation, the Disciplinary Council concluded that the veterinarian in question had not hindered the PIC in any way. In consequence, he was acquitted. Dubé Légal inc., Montréal disciplinary law lawyers.