May 2018

Sexual abuse act steps up patient protection

Recent changes in legislation came into effect this month which may affect your practice. The changes strengthen measures to protect patients; support victims of sexual abuse by regulated health professionals; and improve regulatory oversight and accountability.

These changes are part of the Protecting Patients Act, 2017, and they amend the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA).

The changes include:

  • New definition of “patient”
    Within the context of sexual abuse, an individual is now considered to be a “patient” for one year after the therapeutic nurse-client relationship ends. This means that any sexual contact between a nurse and patient (or former patient) within the one-year time frame is sexual abuse. It does not matter if the patient consents to the sexual acts.

  • Funding eligibility for therapy and counselling for victims of sexual abuse
    Patients can now immediately apply for funding for therapy and counselling as soon as they file a complaint of sexual abuse.

  • Expanded list of sexual abuse acts and other conduct resulting in mandatory revocation
    Due to the amendments the Act makes to the RHPA, there are now more sexual acts that result in mandatory revocation of a nurse’s certificate of registration.

  • More information on the public Register (Find a Nurse)
    Nurses will be required to report any professional licence and registration they have in any jurisdiction. We are currently working to identify the details of this new reporting requirement; we will update you as information becomes available.

The College exists to uphold safe nursing care for the public. We are committed to ending sexual abuse. Learn more about the Protecting Patients Act, 2017 at:

What happens when a nurse is suspected of sexual abuse of a patient? Find out at:

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