The Complaints Director makes the decision to refer a matter to a hearing, normally after reviewing an investigation report and determining that there is some evidence of unprofessional conduct.
The Hearing Tribunal considers the evidence presented to it at the hearing by Conduct Counsel on behalf of the Complaints Director, and by the member's representative.
Hearings are part of the mandated conduct process in CARNA's governing legislation, the Health Professions Act (HPA). The hearing is held in front of the Hearing Tribunal so they can determine whether the behaviours in the allegations in the Notice to Attend have been proven; whether those behaviours amount to 'unprofessional conduct', as defined in HPA; and, if so, what an appropriate remediation is to sufficiently ensure that the member is safe to practise.
If there is a finding of unprofessional conduct, the Hearing Tribunal will then hear submissions from both sides on the order to be made by the Tribunal, including publication.
The Tribunal makes an order that will appropriately address the behaviours, to bring the member's practice back up to standard of the profession, so that the public will receive safe, competent, compassionate, ethical nursing care.
The possible orders of the Tribunal, identified in section 82 of HPA, include but are not limited to:
In addition, the Tribunal may order that the member pay the costs of the investigation or hearing, or both.
After the hearing, the investigated member and complainant receive a copy of the written decision. The investigated member or the Complaints Director may appeal the decision of the Hearing Tribunal within 30 days of receiving the written decision.
In addition, any person who knows the name of the member may access a copy of the decision, for five years after the hearing, on written request and after payment of a fee.
If the Hearing Tribunal has reasonable grounds to believe that the member has committed a criminal offence, the decision must be sent to the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General.
If conditions are ordered to be placed on the member's practice permit, those conditions are sent out to the member's employers and other Canadian nursing jurisdictions at the time of the Order.
Any person who knows the member's name may call CARNA and ask if there are conditions on the member's practice permit, or find the conditions on the nurse verification on the CARNA website. CARNA is required to release information regarding those conditions for as long as they remain on the practice permit. Examples of conditions are:
Course work required. (Call CARNA)
The Hearing Tribunal usually orders additional publication in the form of a short summary of the unprofessional conduct and order.
A consent hearing occurs when the investigated member admits to some or all of the allegations listed in the Notice to Attend.
The member, through their representative (LR or Lawyer) negotiates with Conduct Counsel of CARNA to prepare a written "Consent Agreement" which lists those allegations to which the investigated member admits and sets in writing the background information, including the relevant circumstances at the time of the behaviour. Usually, a full consent hearing includes a recommendation for an order for sanction and publication.
Both Conduct Counsel and the investigated member must be satisfied with the written agreement before they sign it. This agreement is presented to the Hearing Tribunal on the day of the hearing. The Tribunal can accept, reject or ask questions about the agreement.
No witnesses are required for a consent hearing.
A partial consent hearing occurs when there is agreement on most things, but a dispute about one aspect of the case. For example, the member may agree that the behaviour in the allegation occurred, but does not agree that the behaviour amounts to unprofessional conduct.
In this example, each side will make submissions to the Tribunal on that issue. The representative for the investigated person will make submissions to the Tribunal to persuade them that the admitted behaviour does not constitute unprofessional conduct. The Tribunal will then decide whether the behaviour is unprofessional conduct.
A contested hearing occurs when the investigated member does not admit to any or all of the allegations in the Notice to Attend.
Therefore, Conduct Counsel calls witnesses to try to provide evidence that supports that the allegations occurred and that the allegations amount to unprofessional conduct.
The investigated member is also entitled to bring witnesses to defend against the allegations.
Each side has a right to cross-examine the witnesses of the other side.
The member is a compellable witness and may be called by either side to testify.
The number of days of a contested hearing depends on a number of factors including the number of witnesses, length of examination and cross-examination of witnesses, number and complexity of applications or objections.
After hearing all the evidence, the Hearing Tribunal deliberates and makes a determination on each allegation regarding whether there will be a finding of unprofessional conduct or not. If there is a finding of unprofessional conduct on at least one allegation, the Tribunal hears submissions from each side regarding sanction and publication to be ordered. Hearings are part of the mandated conduct process in CARNA's governing legislation, HPA.
The Tribunal may provide an oral decision at the time of the hearing. A written decision which includes reasons will also be provided in a reasonable time.a