An Ontario emergency department physician with over two decades of experience has been vindicated of allegations wagered against him by his regulator. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) withdrew charges against the doctor who accused him of “disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional” conduct on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The scheduled five-day hearing for Dr. Benoit’s case concluded abruptly yesterday when he pleaded “no contest” after not responding to CPSO communication. He received a reprimand and the regulator withdrew the remaining allegations.
“During the early days of the declared pandemic, Dr. Benoit followed the latest data and stayed on top of COVID-19 developments. He was proactive in engaging with officials, from the hospital level through to government, asking them to employ best practices in pandemic management,” a press release by The Democracy Fund (TDF), which supported Dr. Benoit’s defence at no cost to him, states.
“While many physicians had concerns about novel and potentially harmful public health measures, few were willing to risk the severe financial and professional consequences of speaking up, which led to an illusion of consensus,” said Lisa Bildy of Libertas Law, who represented Dr. Benoit with help from TDF.
Dr. Benoit initially faced disciplinary action by the CPSO for critically expressing dissenting views on X (formerly Twitter) that contradicted the regulator's direction to physicians at the time; stating that they must align their professional and medical opinions with government public health policies.
The press release furthers that Dr. Benoit “was deeply troubled by how quickly our society became swept up in the belief that everyone had to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of their personal risk profile, whether they had natural immunity, and the fact that the shots did not stop the transmission of infection.”
Dr. Benoit expressed these concerns with Rebel News in May 2021, specifically as it pertained to the emergency use authorization of the novel injections for youth.
"I respect that the CPSO must respond to concerns about physicians’ behaviour, especially in a clinical setting,” stated Dr. Benoit.
“During COVID, they went further by curtailing criticism of public health measures, perhaps to contain panic. This approach may have had unintended effects on public trust. I hope that the College finds a smoother approach in the future — one that also respects individual physicians' rights and responsibilities to advocate for the health of patients and fellow citizens, particularly under emergency situations where the facts and implications are not fully known and should not be assumed."