Sometimes, an occupational therapist (OT) may suffer from a mental or physical condition that affects his or her ability to practise. “Incapacity” is the term used when an OT can’t practise safely or effectively for these reasons.

When information about an OT's capacity or 'fitness to practise' is brought to the attention of the College, the College will look into the matter. The College has a statutory duty to ensure there is no risk to client safety and care.

The College may receive information about mental or physical conditions or disorders which may affect an OT’s ability to practise safely from various sources. Sources include OTs’ employers, the OTs themselves, OTs’ colleagues, or concerned clients. Unless the information received is intended to be a formal complaint, in which event it must be placed before the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC) for its investigation and review, the Office of the Registrar will make preliminary inquiries to ascertain whether there is a risk to the public. Following informal inquiries being made, the Registrar may determine that no regulatory action is required because it is apparent that either the condition or disorder complained of has no impact on the OT’s ability to practise safely or the OT is already fulfilling their professional obligation to proactively put in place all necessary safeguards to ensure the public are protected. Where there are concerns identified, the Office of the Registrar might ask the OT to enter into an undertaking with the College, the terms of which, if complied with, will ensure that the public are protected. All information about any undertaking entered into is confidential and is not placed on Find an Occupational Therapist (the College’s public register).

If an OT is not agreeable to putting the safeguards in place that the College feels are warranted, be that through the entering into of an undertaking or otherwise, and if the Registrar believes that the OT may be “incapacitated”, the Registrar will proceed to make appropriate inquiries, the results of which must be reported to the ICRC.

If a matter is referred to the ICRC, it will inquire into whether an OT may be incapacitated. The ICRC receive incapacity concerns in one of two ways, either following a referral from the Registrar or a referral from another panel of the ICRC[1]. Following such investigations, the ICRC may determine that it has no concerns respecting an OT’s ability to practise safely, or that while it has concerns, the OT has shown insight into their condition or disorder and is agreeable to entering into an undertaking with the College, the terms of which will enable to College to ensure the public are adequately protected. Again, provided that the OT complies with any undertaking entered into, the need for a referral to the Fitness to Practise Committee will not arise and the confidentiality of all information reported or discovered though the investigation is maintained.

However, based on the ICRC’s findings, the ICRC may refer a case to the Fitness to Practise Committee in cases of possible incapacity. The Fitness to Practise Committee may then conduct a hearing. Because of the nature of the issues involved in these cases, hearings are closed to the public. A note of the referral as well as a summary of any Order made by the Fitness to Practise Committee are made available to the public. The note of the referral and summary are posted under Find an Occupational Therapist (the College’s public register).

The Fitness to Practise Committee may impose some or all of the following:

  • restrictions on an OT’s registration (called terms, conditions or limitations)
  • suspension or revocation of an OT’s registration

The Fitness to Practise Committee aims to make sure the practice of an OT with capacity issues is monitored or restricted in the interest of public protection. The Committee focuses on rehabilitative measures. 

If you have questions about fitness to practise, please contact practice@coto.org or 416.214.1177/1.800.890.6570 x240.  If you have concerns about an OT's fitness to practise, please contact investigations@coto.org or 416.214.1177/1.800.890.6570 x234.

 



 

[1] Subsection 26(1)2 of the Health Professions Procedural Code, which is schedule 2 to the Regulated Health Professions Act, enables the ICRC, following its investigation of a complaint or a report, to refer an OT to another panel of the ICRC for s. 58 incapacity proceedings.