Ontario doctor appeals regulator’s censure over COVID tweets
A Brampton, Ont. pediatrician reprimanded by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) for her anti-lockdown tweets is asking the court to weigh in on her censure.
According to Blacklock’s Reporter, Dr. Kulvinder Kaur Gill is rejecting the College’s warnings about her social media posts as an infringement on freedom of expression that goes beyond the scope of the CPSO’s mandate.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Sandra Nishikawa said Dr. Gill’s free speech claim is premature, and could only be subject to judicial review after the case has gone through the regulator’s internal process.
“After the hearing and a decision by the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board, the unsuccessful party would be able to seek judicial review,” Justice Nishikawa said.
The CPSO launched an investigation after receiving multiple complaints about Dr. Gill’s tweets. The CPSO determined at a hearing in February it would caution her about a supposed lack of professionalism and carelessness in her social media posts.
One of Dr. Gill’s tweets cited in the complaint was a 2020 post in which she criticized the Ontario government’s lockdown measures.
“There is absolutely no medical or scientific reason for this prolonged, harmful and illogical lockdown,” she said.
The CPSO said this tweet was inappropriate and unprofessional. https://www.youtube.com/embed/bcK-Ukt_AyI?feature=oembed
“She stated unequivocally and without providing any evidence that there is no medical or scientific reason for the lockdown,” the CPSO said. “Her statement does not align with the information coming from public health, and moreover, it is not accurate.”
Another tweet mentioned in the complaint was from 2020 questioning the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines.
“If you have not yet figured out that we don’t need a vaccine, you are not paying attention,” she said.
The CPSO said that this tweet is irresponsible and a potential risk to public health.
“The respondent did not provide any evidence to support her statement indicating that a vaccine is not necessary,” they said. “It would be expected and understandable if a certain proportion of the general public who read this statement decided to decline the vaccine with the assurance that they were acting on the guidance of a physician.”
Dr. Gill is not the only doctor the CPSO has investigated since the start of the pandemic.
In November, the regulator cracked down on opposition to vaccines by filing claims against four doctors with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Nov. 3.
The CPSO said in a statement that they are trying to compel Drs. Celeste Jean Thirlwell,. Mary Elizabeth O’Connor, Mark Raymond Trozzi and Rochagne Kilian to comply with ongoing investigations into their practices, including how they issued medical exemptions for vaccines and testing.
“In all four cases, the court filings indicate that their respective investigations were commenced following receipt of information, which includes copies of inappropriately issued exemptions,” they said.