Council Approves Discipline Hearings Tariff
The legislation that governs regulated health professions in Ontario allows Discipline Committees to award costs to a regulatory college if a college is successful in proving allegations of professional misconduct or incompetence against a registrant. Among other costs, the legislation permits the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (the College/CMTO) to recover (from a registrant) expenses related to holding a hearing. The purpose of the College requesting an order for this type of reimbursement is so that the entire expense of investigating or prosecuting a case does not fall entirely on registrants of the Massage Therapy profession, who fund CMTO’s operations through registration fees.
In November 2020, Council approved the introduction of a daily tariff for discipline hearings. The tariff is a set monetary amount that represents what it costs CMTO to conduct a day of hearing. This may include the cost of the College’s lawyer, the cost of an independent lawyer for the Discipline Committee, hearing panel member per diems, and the cost of a court reporter who is required to record the evidence at a hearing.
With the introduction of this tariff, the College can request costs based on the tariff rate for each day a hearing took place. For example, if a three-day hearing occurred and the allegations against the RMT were proven, the College will request costs from the registrant at the daily tariff rate times 3. Effective January 1, 2021, the daily rate will be set at $6,950.
The College has had a long-standing practice of requesting costs from RMTs who engaged in misconduct to recover hearings-related expenses. Therefore, the approval of a tariff does not introduce a new practice – it formalizes an existing cost-recovery practice.
In approving the hearing tariff, Council recognized two benefits to the tariff model. First, the tariff model promotes efficiency during the hearing. Since Council determined that the amount of $6,950 accurately represents part of what the College spends to conduct a hearing, the College will no longer be required to file evidence to prove this expense at every hearing, resulting in a process that is more efficient.
Secondly, the tariff promotes transparency. As of January 1, 2021, the daily rate will be published in the Discipline Committee Rules. The College will make RMTs aware of the daily tariff rate when their case is first referred to the Discipline Committee to ensure they have access to this information and are able to make an informed choice about how they wish to proceed. It also provides RMTs with a realistic assessment of the amount of costs the Discipline Committee could order if the College is able to prove the allegations and seeks costs.
The Discipline Committee will continue to consider requests for costs from the College at the penalty and costs phase of a hearing. The Discipline Committee hears from both parties on what a reasonable amount of costs should be. In addition, the Committee will continue to have discretion in terms of the amount of costs it orders against an RMT, and will consider and balance a variety of factors that are unique to each case, including the need to reimburse the College and the RMT’s personal financial circumstances.