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An Appealing Change

Administrative Tribunals

Date: 2007

The owners of a show dog blamed the dog’s premature death on a veterinarian. They complained to the College of Veterinarians of Ontario and, dissatisfied with the College’s decision, appealed to the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board. They then complained to the Review Board’s Chair that the Vice-Chair who had presided over their hearing had given them a “tongue-lashing,” repeatedly interrupted them and lacked knowledge of the case.  The Chair passed the complaint on to the panel which had heard the case, including the Vice-Chair, for reply.  In its decision, the panel wrote that the dog owners’ allegations of unfair treatment at the hearing were unfounded.

The dog owners complained to the Ombudsman.  By this time, the Review Board had a new Chair, who expressed concern about the way the complaint had been handled.  She noted that since her appointment she has adopted principles of fairness, openness and accountability in all dealings before the Board, and made it clear that members are expected to show courtesy and respect for the public. She advised the Ombudsman’s Office that when a complaint about the conduct of a Board member is raised, it is investigated by her, independent of the hearing process.  The Chair also sent a letter of apology to the dog owners, expressing her “deepest apologies for the manner in which it appears you were treated during what must have been a very difficult time.”