Administrative law – Paramedics – Competence – Disciplinary proceedings – Suspensions – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Medical director – Judicial review – Jurisdiction of court – Public body – Procedural requirements and fairness – Natural justice – Bias – Standard of review – Correctness – Reasonableness simpliciter
Scheerer v. Waldbillig,  O.J. No. 744, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, February 24, 2006, S. Chapnik, J.M. Wilson and G.J. Epstein JJ.
The Applicant sought judicial review of a decision by a hospital’s Medical Director to decertify her as both a Primary Care Paramedic and Advanced Care Paramedic. The Applicant had been the subject of two complaints by patients regarding her treatment of them during 2002. The decertification decision was made in January 2004. In reaching that decision, the Medical Director particularly noted the two investigations surrounding substandard patient assessment and care issues, falsification of ambulance call reports, professional ethics, credibility and the Applicant’s poor attitude toward patients. The decision was signed by the Program Director, the Hospital Director and the Medical Director.
The Court first considered whether it had jurisdiction to review the decision, noting that there was no case in Ontario or Canada concerning the certification or decertification of paramedics. The Court found that it had jurisdiction to review the decision on two bases. First, the Medical Director had exercised his statutory power in reaching the decision which was determinative of legal rights or privileges, or conferred or retracted a licence. Alternatively, because the Applicant was seeking a remedy in the nature of certiorari, the finding of jurisdiction may rest solely on a finding that the decision was made by a public body exercising a public function, and that the decision affected the Applicant’s rights, interests and privileges.
On reviewing the issues of procedural fairness, the appropriate standard of review was correctness. Considering all the circumstances, the Court found that the Applicant was entitled to procedural fairness. As to the required content of procedural fairness, the Court found that the Medical Director had met those requirements. The Applicant received notice of the investigations and she was given an opportunity to meet with the Medical Director on two occasions and to respond to them. She provided a written statement in response to the first complaint and signed off on a written statement of her partner in response to the second complaint. The Medical Director gave the Applicant notice of additional concerns, which were raised in a face to face meeting. No formal hearing was required in this case. Finally, the Applicant was provided with written reasons for the decision to decertify, and an opportunity to make full written submissions to the Review Committee, which she did with the assistance of legal counsel.
The Court next considered the substantive decision itself. Applying the pragmatic and functional approach, the Court concluded that the appropriate standard of review was reasonableness. The Applicant contended that the Medical Director failed to consider all relevant factors and considered irrelevant ones, in reaching his decision. The Court held that it was not necessary for a court to deal with every argument presented by a party. When applying the reasonableness standard, a court must review the reasons of the tribunal to ascertain whether any of the reasons support the decision. The Court found that in this case, the reasons in the decision were well-founded and supported by the evidence.
Finally, as to the allegation of bias, the Court found that the Medical Director’s conduct towards the Applicant during the investigation and decision making process demonstrated no element of bias. His actions were reasonable in the context of the case.
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