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Freedom of Expression and Regulated Health Professionals

Physicians have a professional responsibility to ensure their public statements do not bring disrepute upon the profession.

The limits to the freedom of healthcare professionals to publicly voice opinions were recently tested in the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal. The decision calls for medical regulators to balance the rights of the physician with the interests of the public and the profession.

The College recently addressed a complaint regarding a physician’s opinion piece published in a newspaper which received significant public attention. In reviewing the matter, the Investigations Committee sought to balance the competing interests of the physician’s right to expression, the public interest, and the reputation of the profession.  

While the complaint was dismissed, the College Registrar has exercised his discretion under Section 46(2)(d) of the Medical Act to publish a summary of the decision as it has a bearing on the public interest in the practice of medicine. The summary of the decision is now available.