Sep 23, 2020

An occupational therapist was ordered by the Discipline Committee to successfully complete an ethics course; the requirement was made a term, condition and limitation on her certificate. As an incentive, her suspension would be reduced by one month if she successfully completed the course by a certain date. However, she failed the course “because her final essay contained a verbatim passage from a website without attribution….” She refused to re-take the course and was referred to discipline again (this was now her third time at discipline). At the subsequent hearing her conduct was found to be both relevant to the practice of the profession and disgraceful, dishonourable and unprofessional despite her assertion that the failure to attribute was inadvertent and her inability to take the course again was due to challenging personal circumstances. On appeal, the Divisional Court held that the Discipline Committee had made a reasonable finding: Arora v College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario, 2017 ONSC 1535. The Court also upheld a four month suspension finding that the possible reduction of the original suspension was indeed an incentive rather than a prior determination of the penalty she should serve for failing to successfully complete the course, (i.e., a future Discipline panel would still have discretion to determine what penalty she would serve for the failure). The Court gave deference to the costs order of $26,000 even though the College had not been successful at discipline in arguing that she should be revoked for ungovernability.