Note: This article was originally published in our Summer 2020 edition of our On Call newsletter, and has not been updated.
As the regulators of midwifery in Ontario, it is the responsibility of the College to investigate complaints concerning the conduct of its individual members.
When a complainant has an issue or complaint about a midwifery practice group, the formal complaint is lodged against the individual midwives who are, or were, the practice owners at the relevant time. This is because practice owners are collectively responsible for the activities of the practice as a whole, including all policies and protocols.
In order for the College to proceed with an investigation, the complainant must identify the conduct or actions that are of concern. The following are a few examples in which practice owners are accountable for:
- Failing to have a reasonable and transparent client intake process
- Terminating care without proper cause
- Failing to ensure essential operational and clinical supplies are available within the practice
- Failing to take reasonable steps to ensure that a midwife or another care provider known to the client is available to attend the birth
- Not ensuring that information publicized about the practice is accurate and verifiable
- Not establishing a system to deal with clients’ expressed concerns promptly, fairly, and openly
The College can help the complainant identify the midwives who were practice owners at the relevant time. Once the College receives confirmation of a formal complaint against practice owners, a notification will be sent to the practice within 14 days. Each practice owner (midwife) will also receive a notice of complaint from the College and it will include a copy of the complaint and a copy of their prior decisions (if any).
Complaints initiated against practice owners are processed in the same manner as other complaints. Depending on certain criteria being met, it could be processed through the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) or the regular complaints process through the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC). More information on the College’s complaints process is available on the Complaints page of the College’s website.
Practice owners may mitigate complaints by ensuring that all standards of practice are met, and that any policies or protocols are reviewed and updated when necessary. The Professional Standards for Midwives set out the expectations of practice owners.