Barbosa v. Health Professions Appeal and Review Board, 2012 ONSC 1761

The professional, an immigrant from Brazil, had worked as a clinical fellow in anesthesiology under an Ontario academic license from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. He then moved to New Brunswick and practised as a general anesthesiologist under a license called a “full license,” but which on its face was “issued on the basis of a demonstrated need, and conditional on ongoing clinical activity in the province.”

The professional sought to practise in Ontario and applied to the Ontario College for a certificate of registration authorizing independent practise. He claimed a statutory exemption to the standard requirements on the basis that he already had an “equivalent” out-of-province certificate – i.e., his New Brunswick license.

The Registration Committee of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario denied the application. This was upheld by the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board, which found that a New Brunswick medical license issued at least in part on the basis of physician shortfall was not the same as Ontario credentials issued strictly on the basis of meeting certain standards. On appeal to the Ontario Divisional Court, the Court held that the Board’s findings were entitled to deference and fell within a range of reasonable outcomes. Accordingly, it dismissed the appeal.

Comment: Courts recognize that important qualitative differences may exist between superficially similar credentials and will defer to the regulator’s assessment of what constitutes equivalency.