July 25, 2016

Registration: complaints and good character

Administrative Law
Professional Regulation
Registration and Fitness

In a previous blog entry (here) we wrote about the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench upholding a decision of the Alberta Dental Association and College to refuse registration to a BC dentist on character grounds, based on a number of complaints against him in British Columbia. This decision was recently upheld by the Alberta Court of Appeal in Lum v. Council of Alberta Dental Association and College, 2016 ABCA 154.

After reviewing the nature of good character for purposes of Alberta’s Health Professions Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. H-7, [30] the Alberta Court of Appeal examined the evidence, which on the one hand, showed that the applicant had “several incidents that reflected poor judgment, anger management issues, practice management issues and competency issues that required resolution and additional education” [31], and that on the other, showed that “he has never been brought before the council of the College for a hearing and therefore has not been subject to a finding of professional misconduct” [32]. The court rejected Dr. Lum’s contention that his registration in B.C. was sufficient to establish good character: “…reliance on registration alone would freeze “good character and reputation” at the moment of registration and would have us ignore what has occurred since registration.” [35] Ultimately, the court found that the review panel had expertise in considering applications for registration [38], and that Dr. Lum had not demonstrated any reviewable error. [40]

The court touched on TILMA (i.e., the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement between Alberta and B.C.), but despite a suggestion that an “incoming” body bear a reverse onus, to prove that a mobility applicant lacks good character, [44] the court declined to consider what TILMA required, given a concurrent application under that agreement: “We are tasked with adjudicating an appeal between Dr. Lum and the Dental Association, two private litigants. Disputes under the Mobility Agreement are between two provinces. The appellant has commenced an application under the Mobility Agreement and that is the proper forum to pursue the guidance the appellant seeks.” [46, and also see 57]

Lum v. Council of Alberta Dental Association and College, 2016 ABCA 154
(available here)

Lisa C. Fong and Michael Ng