Commonly Asked Questions About the SVMA Complaints Process

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For the complaint form, click here.
  • Complaints about Veterinary Bills
    • The SVMA may investigate and impose discipline for some types of bill-related complaints but does NOT have the power to direct a veterinary professional to decrease the amount of a bill, give a refund or otherwise financially compensate a client. There is no mandatory fee guide or schedule for veterinary practices.
    • The SVMA WILL investigate complaints related to billing if there is evidence of the following:
      • charging for services that were not rendered
      • failure to provide the client with a reasonable estimate of the cost for the recommended medical services failure to obtain informed consent for the medical services rendered and actions taken
      • failure to provide the client with a fully itemized bill upon the client’s request.
    • Are all letters of complaint forwarded to the Professional Conduct Committee?
      • Yes, all letters of complaint are reviewed by the Professional Conduct Committee.
    • Who are the members of the PCC?
      • The committee consists of veterinarians, registered veterinary technologists as well as members of the pubic. All members of the committee are volunteers, appointed by council, who meet on a regular basis.
  • What does the investigation involve?
    • The complainant is contacted by the SVMA to confirm receipt of the complaint. The veterinary professional is notified of the complaint and provided with a copy. The veterinary professional is given an opportunity to submit a written explanation, pertinent medical records, x-rays, logs and other documentation to the SVMA office. The veterinary professional is then interviewed, along with any other people involved in the case.
  • What happens when the investigation is completed?
    • Investigation file is reviewed by the entire PCC, where one of the following is determined.
      • The committee may have no concerns with the veterinary professional’s actions or conduct and no further action is indicated.
      • The complaint may not fall under the jurisdiction of the SVMA regulatory activity, may have been frivolous, vexatious, made in bad faith or for an improper purpose and is otherwise an abuse of process.
      • The committee may have concerns with the veterinary professional’s actions or conduct which it believes can be addressed through alternate dispute resolution.
      • The committee will refer the case for hearing by the discipline committee.
      • Decisions are not provided over the telephone by SVMA staff.
  • Who are the members of the Discipline Committee (DC)?
    • The Discipline Committee consists of up to five SVMA members who are volunteers appointed by council. In addition, there are non-veterinary public representatives appointed by SVMA council.
  • What happens at a disciplinary hearing?
    • The DC is not aware of any of the details of the case prior to the hearing and all evidence is given under oath. The DC, PCC and the veterinary professional under investigation may have legal counsel in attendance to advise on points of law. The DC shall hear the evidence and decide by majority vote whether or not the member is guilty of unprofessional conduct or a breach of a provision of The Veterinarians Act, 1987 or the SVMA Bylaws.
  • What type of penalty can the Discipline Committee impose?
    • If a member is found guilty the DC may have the veterinary professional:
      • expelled from the SVMA;
      • suspended for a specified period of time;
      • restricted as to the type of practice the member may do;
      • complete specified courses;
      • obtain medical treatment;
      • reprimanded;
      • take specific corrective measures to comply with the Code of Ethics;
      • made subject to any other order it may see fit such as fines;
      • pay for the costs of the investigation and hearing.
  • Can the Professional Conduct or Discipline Committees award money or damages?
    • No, only the courts can do this.
  • What recourse is there if the complainant or the veterinary professional is dissatisfied with the decision of the Discipline Committee?
    • The veterinary professional may appeal the decision to a judge of the court by submitting a notice of appeal. If the client is not satisfied with the decision made by the Discipline Committee, they may pursue action against the veterinary professional through the court system.
  • Has the complaints process been updated?
    • As decided at the 2019 Annual General Meeting, the Saskatchewan Veterinary Medical Association contracted an external review of the SVMA Complaints Process. This study was completed in late 2020 with the final report being made available in early 2021.  If you wish to access the findings, together with an update on the implementation of the recommendations,  please contact the SVMA Registrar by telephone or email gparks@svma.sk.ca .
      We would ask that any member of the public reviewing the document provide feedback to the SVMA. This will allow the SVMA to continue to incorporate your input into the ongoing operations of the SVMA.
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