Oct 15, 2020

Regulators Have No Vicarious Liability for Actions of Practitioners

Yashcheshen v College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan, 2019 SKQB 43 (CanLII)

The Courts have affirmed yet again that regulators are not vicariously liable for the conduct of the people they regulate. Vicarious liability is legal responsibility for the damage caused by a third party. An example would be that an employer might be vicariously liable for the harm done by its employee arising from the employee’s performance of work duties. Vicarious liability is often accompanied by a claim that the third party breached a duty to properly supervise the person causing the harm.

In Yashcheshen v College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan, 2019 SKQB 43, <http://canlii.ca/t/hxq6r> a self-represented litigant sued both a physician (Dr. Bowen) and the physician’s regulator for the denial of insurance benefits because of an unsupportive medical report. In respect of the regulator, Ms. Yashcheshen claimed that the regulator’s handling of her complaint against the physician amounted to “systematic negligence, which occurs within their complaints process to purposefully evade responsibility for their member”.

On the issue of vicarious liability, the Court said:

There must be some sort of nexus or relationship between Dr. Bowen and the College in order to meet the test for vicarious liability and such a relationship simply does not exist. Dr. Bowen is not an employee of the College. He is a member of the College, as a statutory body, by virtue of being a physician in Saskatchewan. The College is Dr. Bowen’s governing professional body but that relationship does not create vicarious liability on the part of the College in the circumstances of this case.

This decision is consistent with past decisions on the issue.