Supervisors of the applicant registered nurse filed a complaint against her with the College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia. Following an investigation, the complaint was dismissed. The applicant then filed a complaint against each of the individuals that had filed a complaint about her, alleging that pursuing and filing the formal complaint constituted, inter alia, professional misconduct, willful misconduct, malice and slander. The complaints were dismissed by the Complaints Committee. The applicant sought judicial review of the dismissals.

22. February 2011 0

Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – College of Nurses – Investigations – Nurses – Disciplinary proceedings – Professional misconduct or conduct unbecoming – Reporting requirements – Judicial review – Standard of review – Reasonableness simpliciter

MacDonald v. College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia, [2010] N.S.J. No. 661, 2010 NSSC 430, Nova Scotia Supreme Court, November 12, 2010, C.R. Coughlan J.

The issues before the court included: (1) what is the appropriate standard of review and (2) did the decisions of the Complaints Committee satisfy the appropriate standard of review.

The court outlined that “correctness” and “reasonableness” are the only two standards of review. The court confirmed that the existing jurisprudence has determined that significant deference is owed to professional regulatory bodies. Since the issue in this case concerned the review of a decision to dismiss the applicant’s complaints, the court held that this discretionary aspect necessarily attracted the standard of reasonableness.

Regarding whether the dismissal of the applicant’s complaint satisfied the appropriate standard of review, the court found that it did as the Complaints Committee’s conclusion lay within the range of acceptable outcomes. The Complaints Committee dismissed the applicant’s complaint on the basis that nurses have an ethical obligation to report a nurse where there are reasonable grounds to believe that a nurse may have engaged in conduct deserving of the College’s intervention. Although the supervisors may have relied on some factual inaccuracies when making their complaint against the applicant, the court found that this was not sufficient to establish professional misconduct, incompetence or conduct unbecoming on the part of the supervisors since the supervisors had reasonable grounds to report the applicant.

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