Duty to Cooperate with a Regulator’s Quality Assurance Program Upheld

In Vey v Newfoundland and Labrador (Pharmacy Board), 2019 NLSC 111, http://canlii.ca/t/j0qfx a pharmacist was disciplined for refusing to cooperate with a practice assessment conducted as a part of the regulator’s quality assurance program. The Court concluded cooperation was required by the practitioner.

  • The fact that no quality assurance committee had been established to appoint the assessor was irrelevant as the regulator had an independent duty (and authority) to conduct a quality assurance program. A committee was only one option for doing so.
  • The legislation protecting the privacy of patient information in the province had an exception for regulators. That legislation therefore permitted the practitioner to provide the requested patient information.
  • The practitioner could not rely on her lawyer’s inaccurate legal advice as a basis for refusing to cooperate. The regulator had done nothing to support her lawyer’s opinion. A mistake of law is not a recognized defence.
  • There was no arbitrariness in the regulator conducting a full assessment sooner than expected because the practitioner was moving her premises. This was consistent with the regulator’s usual policy.
  • There was no obligation on the regulator to attempt informal resolution rather than a referral to discipline. Alternate dispute resolution was optional, not mandatory.

This case reinforces the recent trend by the courts to give a liberal and purposive interpretation to legislation authorizing quality assurance initiatives by regulators.

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