Legally Speaking
June 2022
By Sheila Torrance, Legal Counsel, CPSS

Recent Amendments to the Health-related Renewal Questions

The College’s health-related renewal questions, included in Bylaw 3.1 of the CPSS Regulatory Bylaws, were recently amended by the Council.  There were a few primary reasons for the amendments:

1. There was a concern that the previous questions violated human rights principles and legislation as they requested information beyond that which the College required in order to ensure patient safety;

2. There was a desire to align the renewal questions more closely with the health-related questions posed on the initial Application for Medical Registration (AMR) utilized by CPSS and many other Canadian medical regulatory authorities (MRAs) on the website;

3. It was also necessary to align the questions with the College’s recent shift in approach to blood-borne viruses [see the article in DocTalk 2021, Volume 8, Issue 2: A Shift in Approach to Screening, Reporting and Monitoring Blood-borne Viruses”Reporting of seropositive status is now only required for physicians/medical students who perform or may perform / assist or may assist in performing exposure-prone procedures (EPPs).

The amended questions are broader based and focus on disability or functional impairment rather than specific health conditions such as addiction, mental health concerns, or blood-borne illnesses.  These questions would not necessarily require disclosure of ALL physician health concerns; rather, physicians need to disclose only those that could be reasonably expected to pose a risk of harm to patients or to negatively impact their work as a physician.  The amended questions are intended to more appropriately balance physicians’ privacy interests more appropriately with the College’s obligation to protect the public.

Process followed

The CPSS Council appointed a committee to consider the issues relevant to the health-related renewal questions.  The committee put forward proposed amendments that the Council considered in June 2021.  Amendments were approved in principle, and the College then undertook a broad stakeholder consultation process.  This included specific requests sent to the Ministry of Health, the Saskatchewan Medical Association, the Saskatchewan Health Authority, and the Physician Health Program Committee, as well as an email blast sent to all registered CPSS members and posting on the CPSS website and Facebook page.  Feedback was received from many of those organizations as well as from the Canadian Medical Protective Association.

The Council considered all consultation feedback at its November 2021 meeting, and approved the following amended questions:

7. Do you, will you, or is there a potential that you will perform or assist in performing exposure-prone procedures?

Yes ____ No _____

If you answered ‘yes’ to this question, following review of the CPSS policy “Blood-borne Viruses:  Screening, Reporting and Monitoring of Physicians/Medical Students” and Bylaw 24.1 “Reporting of Blood-borne viruses”, are you compliant with the policy and bylaw?

Yes ___ No ____

If you answered ‘yes’ to question 7, have you ever tested positive for a blood-borne virus such as hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV) or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)? 

Yes ___ No ____

8. During the past two calendar years, have you had or has a health professional advised you that you have a physical, cognitive, mental and/or emotional condition (not including a blood-borne virus) which in any way may reasonably be expected to pose a risk of harm to patients or to negatively impact your work as a physician?

Yes____ No____

If you answered ‘yes’ to this question – Do you have an attending physician for that condition(s)?

Yes___ No____

Are you compliant with the recommendations of your attending physician?

Yes___ No____

If you answered ‘yes’ to question 8, are you currently participating with the Physician Health Program of the Saskatchewan Medical Association?

Yes___ No____

Are you compliant with the Physician Health Program recommendations?

Yes ___ No ___

What to expect in the Fall 2022 Renewal platform

The bylaw amendment came into force on January 28, 2022 when it was published in the Saskatchewan Gazette.  Physicians can expect to see these questions on their renewal application for the 2022-2023 renewal season [please refer to Annual Renewal Planning].

College staff is working to create reference information to provide assistance to physicians when responding to these questions on the upcoming renewal.  This will include dropdown panels, information accessible by “hovering” over the wording, and in the guide to the renewal process that will be available prior to the renewal season.



  Sheila Torrance is Legal Counsel at the
College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan.