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Professional law: The Professional Inspection Committee's powers must be determined by regulation

In a judgement rendered on October 10th, 2022, the Superior Court decided that when a regulation concerning professional inspections is silent on the powers that can be legally exercised by a professional inspection committee, the committee, cannot, by its own admission, broaden the scope of its inspection powers(Quenneville c. Médecins veterinaries du Québec (Ordre des), 2022 QCCS 3707).

While the veterinarian in question was in the midst of completing refresher training in the form of 160 hours of classes previously imposed by the Ordre des médecins veterinaries du Québec, the Professional Inspection Committee ordered that he undergo an inspection regarding his professional competence by completing an exam. The veterinarian brought the Professional Inspection Committee’s decision before the Superior Court and asked that it be reviewed.

To begin, the Superior Court interpreted the relevant dispositions of the Professional Code and confirmed that section 90 of said Code provides that the inspection process be laid out by a regulation adopted by the Board of Directors of each professional order. This regulation will determine the inspection powers held by the Professional Inspection Committee.

According to the Court, by adopting section 90 of the Professional Code, it is clear that the legislator wanted to give the Board of the Directors, and only the Board of Directors, the option to determine the powers that could by legally exercised by the Professional Inspection Committee. If no regulation exists establishing that the Professional Inspection Committee can exercise any powers other than those provided by section 112 of the Professional Code, notably the inspection of products and files,the Professional Inspection Committee cannot appropriate additional powers that do not belong to it.

For the above-mentioned reasons, the Superior Court concluded that the Professional Inspection Committee, by ordering the veterinarian to submit to an exam even though the regulation of his professional order did not provide that possibility, appropriated inspection powers that it had not been rightfully given by the Board of the Directors or the legislator in accordance with section 112 of the Professional Code. To interpret section 112 of the Code in such a way as to include exams would be to denature the section and ignore the intention expressed by the legislator according to section 90 of the Code, namely that the Board of Directors keep a close control on the Professional Inspection Committee’s inspection process Dubé Légal inc., professional law lawyers.