Cumulative Impact of Sanctions

Discipline sanctions must not be clearly unfit (at least in contested cases; a different test applies where there is a joint submission on penalty). In determining sanction, the panel should conduct an assessment of the facts of the particular case and the sanctions imposed in other cases involving similar infractions and circumstances.

In Llewellyn v. College of Registered Nurses of P.E.I., 2022 PESC 36 (CanLII), the registrant (a nurse) was found to have engaged in professional misconduct by the nature of their interactions with other staff at a hospital treating the registrant’s seriously ill mother. The sanction imposed included a two-month suspension, remediation at the nurse’s own expense, a fine of $5,000, and costs of $10,000. The hearing panel did not conduct a detailed analysis of the circumstances of the conduct nor did the panel review precedent cases. The Court said:

Unfortunately, in the absence of reasons which reference case precedents, I am unable to find that the penalty is fit or unfit by comparison to a range of other penalties. This is problematic and something which tribunals should be mindful of in future cases.

The Court was concerned that the discipline panel may have given insufficient consideration to the personal distress the registrant was undergoing and the cumulative financial impact of the order. The Court reduced the sanction by removing the fine and halving the costs order.

In addition to analyzing the sanction in similar cases, panels should consider the cumulative impact of their orders.

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