Pause. Breath. Think.
Posted On: April 13, 2021
We’re at that time of year once again where a small number of Registrants find themselves in the difficult situation of having missed the renewal deadline and subsequently, have received a notice of intent to suspend and application of late fees. A month from now, we’ll be in the part of the process where people are, regrettably, suspended from practise.
You perhaps feel the College treated you unfairly, or that circumstances beyond your control may have prevented you from doing what you needed to do to meet your professional obligations. You may also be a bit angry at yourself for letting this happen.
You’re angry at COVID-19 and feeling all the frustrations that accompany living and working in what feels like a never-ending pandemic. I empathise.
Before you reach out to the College about your late fees, the risk of suspension or about having been suspended, I implore you to do three things:
- Put the phone down or stop typing that e-mail and take several deep breaths.
- Remember that there is no problem or situation that cannot be resolved between reasonable people.
- Think about what you might say and what it might be like to be on the receiving end of that call or e-mail.
Recently, the College received a call from a Registrant who was angry and who may have let the circumstances of the collective situation get the best of them.
On the call, the Registrant used foul language, that was directed at both the staff person they were speaking with and towards the College, and uttered threats of violence, namely to “burn the College to the ground with the staff inside of it”.
The College is committed to providing a safe and healthy work environment free from violence, threats of violence, harassment, intimidation and disruptive behaviour for all workers, regardless of the source. Workplace harassment in our view is defined as any person engaging in a course of vexatious comment(s) or conduct against a worker in the workplace that is known, or ought reasonably to be known, to be unwelcome.
It may include, but is not limited to unwelcome, offensive or objectional conduct, and may or may not be based on a legislatively protected ground under the Ontario Human Rights Code.
I believe that any reasonable person would agree that using foul language on a call with another person, would likely meet the definition of “unwelcome, offensive or objectional conduct”.
Threats of physical harm might also reach the level of a breach of the Criminal Code of Canada and as such, could be within the jurisdiction of the Ontario Provincial Police, Toronto Police Services or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The College is required under the Workplace Harassment and Violence legislation to protect its workers, including staff and volunteers. The College’s Workplace Harassment and Violence policies empower staff to file complaints against anyone who they believe may be breaching these policies.
Such complaints must be investigated by the College and, if they involved a Registrant, could reasonably be referred to the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee as a potential breach of the Professional Misconduct Regulation made under the Naturopathy Act, 2007, based on the conduct potentially being considered as dishonourable, disgraceful, and unprofessional.
The consequences and professional implications could be far reaching—and all for just a momentary slip in judgement.
I’m saddened and disheartened that recent events have prompted the need to write this blog post, and that Registrants and the public alike will be reading it. I’ve yet to meet a health professional who does not care deeply about their profession, and their patients. Unfortunately, I have met some who have let their emotions, in reaction to a situation, get the best of them.
Please, if you find yourself in this or any similar situation with the College or any other institution, pause, breath, and think.
Andrew Parr, CAE
Chief Executive Officer