Sazant v. College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, 2013 CanLII 22324 (S.C.C.), dismissing leave to appeal of a decision in 2012 ONCA 727

In Sazant, a physician faced both criminal charges and disciplinary proceedings stemming from sexual allegations involving minors. In the course of investigation, the investigator of the Ontario College of Physicians exercised the statutory power to issue a “summons” on any person to order production of documents from the Toronto police of their police files and Crown briefs related to the criminal charges.

The physician challenged the constitutional validity of this power, arguing this was an unreasonable search and seizure pursuant to s. 8 of the Charter. The Court of Appeal rejected this argument and dismissed the appeal. It noted, among other things, that a member of a self-governing profession whose regulator had reasonable and probable grounds to believe the member has committed an act of professional misconduct “has a limited expectation of privacy in relation to an authorized investigation.”

Comment: The Courts draw a distinction between investigative powers that arise in the professional regulatory context and those that arise in the criminal context. Investigative powers set out in a professional regulatory body’s governing legislation will be construed broadly.