The College has zero tolerance for the sexual abuse of patients/clients. There are specific processes and penalties related to sexual abuse in the Health Professions Procedural Code (the Code) of the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA) to achieve zero tolerance and help prevent further sexual abuse.
Training for kinesiologists
At least once in their time being registered with the College, all kinesiologists must complete a mandatory e-learning module on professional boundaries and the prevention of sexual abuse. The module helps kinesiologists better understand boundary violations and sexual abuse, how to recognize and act on warning signs, and what to do if boundary violations occur. All kinesiologists must practice according to and meet the expectations of the College’s practice standards and practice guidelines, which deal with matters such as professional boundaries and preventing sexual abuse.
Under Section 85.1 of the Code, kinesiologists, and all regulated health professionals, are required to file a report if they have reasonable grounds, obtained while practising, to believe that another kinesiologist or regulated health professional has sexually abused a patient/client. Employers and facility operators where regulated health professionals practise must report sexual abuse. Learn more about mandatory reporting.
College procedures for handling sexual abuse
Once the College receives a report or complaint of sexual abuse, there are specific and increased measures in place to ensure these types of complaints or reports are handled sensitively, effectively and efficiently. Processes are focused on the complainant and designed to provide a safe and supportive environment to prevent re-victimization. Investigations into any allegations of sexual abuse will be fast-tracked by the College with a benchmark of five months for completion.
The Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC) is responsible for reviewing and screening all complaints and reports, and determining which matters should be referred to discipline. In cases where allegations of sexual abuse are reported to the College or are discovered during an investigation, the ICRC will decide whether to make an interim order. An interim order may include a suspension of a kinesiologist’s licence to practice while the matter is under investigation, or ordering certain terms, conditions and limitations (e.g. a kinesiologist can only practise under the direct supervision of another regulated health professional).
The kinesiologist is provided with notice of the ICRC’s intention to make an order and provided an opportunity to respond.
If the ICRC does make an order, the investigation is prioritized and expedited. The ICRC can change the order at any time before its final decision.
Most investigations into allegations of sexual abuse will be referred to the Discipline Committee by the ICRC because of the serious nature of sexual abuse, except in exceptional circumstances.
Alternative dispute resolution is not allowed for matters relating to sexual abuse.
If an allegation of sexual abuse is referred to Discipline, special measures are in place to create a sensitive and fair process. Prosecutions for sexual abuse are given priority and are expedited. Procedures and penalties are designed to support the zero-tolerance philosophy and the elimination of sexual abuse within the healthcare context. These measures include the following:
- Interim orders restricting the kinesiologist’s practice or suspending their licence to practice during the discipline process.
- Witnesses who are describing sexual abuse can request and obtain an order prohibiting the publication of their identity.
- Witnesses who may be vulnerable when testifying can have a support person with them, testify away from the hearing room or behind a screen, and not be cross-examined directly by the kinesiologist.
- Special procedures around providing any medical records about the complainant or victim to protect the complainant or victim from unnecessary trauma or invasion of privacy.
- Interested persons, such as the individual or an advocacy group, may request that they be made interveners who can participate in the hearing.
- If the kinesiologist is found to have engaged in sexual abuse, the patient/client can file a written statement describing the impact of the abuse.
Certain sexual acts with a patient/client will result in automatic, mandatory revocation of a kinesiologist’s licence to practice for five years. These acts are:
- sexual intercourse
- genital to genital, genital to anal, oral to genital, or oral to anal contact
- masturbation of the kinesiologist by, or in the presence of, the patient/client
- masturbation of the patient/client by the kinesiologist
- encouragement of the patient/client by the kinesiologist to masturbate in the presence of the kinesiologist
- touching of a sexual nature of the patient’s/client’s genitals, anus, breasts or buttocks
The penalty is applied immediately when a finding is made.
All other findings of sexual abuse that do not require mandatory revocation will carry a penalty that includes a suspension and an oral reprimand. The length of the suspension and any other terms, conditions or limitations are at the discretion of the Discipline panel.
Other potential orders of the Discipline panel after a finding of sexual abuse may include:
- Requiring the kinesiologist to pay a portion of the College’s investigation and prosecution costs.
- Requiring the kinesiologist to pay for the costs of any counseling or therapy for the victim.
A finding of professional misconduct, which includes sexual abuse, is posted on the College’s Public Register of Kinesiologists.