A non-practising psychologist (“Sydiaha”) appealed from a decision of the Council of the Saskatchewan College of Psychologists where it had found him guilty of professional misconduct for advertising himself as a psychologist, without specifying that he was non-practising

24. June 2014 0

Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – College of Psychologists – Psychologists – Disciplinary proceedings – Unauthorized practice – Advertising – Professional misconduct / conduct unbecoming – Public interest – Judicial review – Compliance with legislation – Standard of review – Reasonableness simpliciter

Sydiaha v. Saskatchewan College of Psychologists, [2014] S.J. No. 254, 2014 SKQB 112, Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench, April 15, 2014, GM Currie J

Sydiaha had advertised himself as a psychologist, including by placing listings in the Saskatchewan telephone directory. The College wrote to him, indicating that he could not hold himself out as a psychologist but could specify that he was a psychologist (non-practising). Sydiaha did not change his advertising in response to these communications, and ultimately he was charged with professional misconduct for being registered as a non-practicing member and failing to use the designation non-practicing in his advertising, and for continuing to practice or holding himself out as being entitled to continue to practice psychology.

The College held a discipline hearing and found Sydiaha guilty of professional misconduct. Sydiaha was unsuccessful on appeal to the Council of the College and therefore applied to the Court pursuant to section 37 of the Psychologists Act.

The standard of review on this statutory appeal was one of reasonableness, meaning that the College Council was entitled to deference as the use of the titled “psychologist” by a psychologist when communicating with the public is within the Council’s expertise, as is interpretation and application of its own enabling Act and Bylaws.

Sydiaha argued that the College’s Bylaws permitted him to use the title psychologist (non-practising) but did not prohibit him from using the title psychologist. In his interpretation, a non-practicing member may – not must – use the title psychologist (non-practising). The Court indicated that the issue in this case was not so much the protection of the psychology profession’s monopoly, but protection of the public in terms of their perception of someone who might be offering psychology services.

The Court held that the decision was a reasonable one, even if it were not necessarily correct. It fell within a range of possible outcomes and was not fundamentally inconsistent with the provisions of the Act, the Regulatory Bylaws, or the applicable Code of Ethics.

Similarly, the Court rejected Sydiaha’s argument that he should be entitled to hold himself out as practising psychology, finding that the Council’s decision that he had done so was reasonable and that he was not permitted to do so due to his non-practising status. Further, Sydiaha’s arguments that there was no breach of the Code of Ethics were rejected.

Sydiaha made one further argument that the opinion evidence offered by his expert witness should not have been excluded by the College Council. The Court rejected this last argument, pointing out that the expert opinion Sydiaha sought to lead was not “… relevant to any issue that was before the Discipline Committee or the Council”. The appeal was dismissed without costs.

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