Since the onset of the pandemic crisis in March of this year, there have been 12 President’s Messages providing guidance to members with respect to complying with government orders and directives – several of which have specifically reminded members of their obligation to ensure they are complying with S-001: Scope of Practice
, G-012: Use of Social Media
, S-016: Advertising
and G-016: Advertising
. If you have not done so recently, please take the time now to carefully review the existing standards of practice, guidelines and policies that relate to advertising, websites and the use of social media.
In my Message dated April 27, 2020, I reported on the then 74 cease and desist letters that had been sent to members resulting in the removal of problematic posts or advertisements. Between March 1, 2020 and September 22, 2020, the CCO’s Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC) held a number of virtual special meetings to address the over 185 complaints received relating to social media and claims. ICRC has made decisions on every one of those complaints. At this time, one public complainant has requested a review by the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board of 28 ICRC decisions, and a DC has requested a review of one decision.
In addition, CCO has considered what other mechanisms can be implemented to ensure compliance with existing standards and policies as regards social media posts or advertising. You will recall that the CCO’s Quality Assurance committee (QA) currently has a Standard of Practice and Guideline relating to health claims in advertising, websites and social media out for feedback from members and stakeholders
. You have an opportunity to participate in the regulation of the profession by submitting your feedback by October 30, 2020. The QA Committee will be reviewing all feedback received and will make recommendations to Council once the review is complete.
As part of its review of feedback, the QA Committee will continue to consider various mechanisms for the proactive review of websites and social media based on the draft standard of practice and guideline and feedback that is received, keeping in mind the limitations of technology to scan photos and graphics and the importance of determining what is financially feasible. The QA Committee will be exercising all due diligence before making recommendations to Council.
In the interim, the Executive Committee has requested Dr. Gauri Shankar, former CCO President, Chair of the ICRC, and peer assessor, to undertake a pilot project to review the websites and social media sites of all elected Council members and non-Council committee members to determine if such a review could become a component of CCO’s quality assurance program in future. Once the pilot is complete and has been thoroughly evaluated, Council will deliberate and provide further direction.
Assuring the integrity of health care claims disseminated to the public is critical at all times, and especially so during this period of heightened sensitivity as a result of COVID-19. Members must remain vigilant about this aspect of their practice and are reminded they can submit advertising materials to the CCO’s Advertising Committee for review in advance of publication.
Outstanding Discipline Matters
CCO continues to address promptly any outstanding discipline referrals from the ICRC. Currently, there are 12 outstanding referrals to the discipline committee, many of which involve allegations (not findings) of sexual abuse of a patient. CCO has repeatedly emphasized that the legislation is absolutely clear – there cannot be a concurrent treating and sexual relationship with a patient. CCO is anticipating the passing of a spousal exemption regulation by government, but unless and until such a regulation is passed, there is no spousal exemption to the sexual abuse provisions of the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991. Review the CCO website regularly for any regulatory updates.
CCO’s Registration Policy P-058: Policy on Considering Applications for Registration During the COVID-19 Pandemic
, has been well received. As of October 15, 2020, 79 new members have registered using the provisional certificate of registration. It is very heartening to see the number of existing CCO members who are prepared to serve as mentors and supervisors for these graduates, who otherwise would have to wait until at least mid-November 2020 to become registered. We are carefully monitoring this pilot project to evaluate its success, and potential future applicability in other circumstances.
I am also pleased to report that on October 8, 2020, 195 candidates wrote the first-ever online sitting of CCO’s Legislation and Ethics examination. Previously, on September 1, 2020, CCO conducted the first-ever online Record Keeping Workshop attended by 48 individuals. (Another online workshop
is scheduled for December 3, 2020.) CCO continues to adapt and find creative ways to complete College business in these unusual times.
Transitions on Council
In July 2020 CCO said goodbye to Ms Karoline Bourdeau, and in September 2020, to Ms Georgia Allan. On behalf of the College we thank them both and express our deep appreciation for their service. CCO is awaiting the appointment of new public members, which will ensure CCO is properly constituted. Under the Chiropractic Act, 1991, CCO requires at least six public members to be properly constituted, and currently we are benefitting from the very hard work and commitment of our four valued and experienced public members.
CCO’s Executive Committee remains properly constituted, however, and continues to address public interest priorities by leveraging video conferencing platforms. All meetings, including Council meetings and discipline hearings will continue to be conducted virtually at least until 2021. If you would like to attend a Council meeting or Discipline hearing, please contact Ms Rose Bustria at: email@example.com.
Ontario recently announced further restrictions on the size of indoor and outdoor gatherings, as well as on the operations of certain businesses. At this time there has not been any specific direction from the province that would impact the delivery of chiropractic care in Ontario. Rest assured CCO continues to liaise with the Ministry and will update members on any changes to the requirements under the emergency orders if, or when, they are introduced.
Members are encouraged to continue to review the most up-to-date guidance documents
from CCO, the Ministry of Health and Public Health Ontario for health and safety practices related to COVID-19. In accordance with Ministry of Health guidelines
, although the use of protective eyewear is not required for interactions with patients who screen negative for COVID-19, it should be considered and may prevent the member from being required to quarantine for 14 days if a patient who they have treated tests positive for COVID-19, in accordance with the direction of certain local public health units in Ontario. Members are encouraged to contact their local public health unit
with any specific questions regarding practices around being informed of a COVID-19 positive test result from a patient or staff.
While our primary focus remains on public and member safety during this ongoing pandemic response, CCO continues to work with stakeholders to advance ongoing regulatory initiatives, such as including access to diagnostic services so chiropractors can act within the full scope of the existing scope of practice.
Communications with and from CCO
“CCO encourages all stakeholders to forward inquiries relating to CCO to CCO directly. A great deal of information is readily available on the CCO website. Some information (including active investigations for example) is confidential under the RHPA. Please ensure all inquiries are respectful and professional. Please also note CCO may include both your inquiry and CCO’s response on the website or in public information packages to ensure all stakeholders get the same information in the same way and at the same time. Thank you.”
— Taken from CCO website
On an ongoing basis, CCO receives inquiries from members and stakeholders that may be of interest to the full membership, and which may require clarification through the lens of CCO’s public interest mandate.
During the pandemic, CCO’s communications have been predominantly electronic – offering short, timely guidance and highlighting new initiatives. CCO has a broad stakeholder list, in addition to communicating to all members. However, many of you will have received a paper copy of the 2019 Annual Report. This is the only document CCO (and all other regulated health colleges) must file with the Minister of Health. We received feedback from some members that they would appreciate continuing to receive a printed annual report, but that CCO should continue with short, timely electronic communications rather than producing printed newsletters.
CCO greatly values member and public feedback at all times, but especially in the context of the continuing pandemic response as we pivot to find new ways to connect and conduct College business.
I am mindful of how challenging the pandemic has been for everyone, especially for our patients and their trusted chiropractic professionals. Thank you for your ongoing diligence with respect to compliance and for putting patients first.
Dr. Dennis Mizel, President