The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) will no longer be investigating doctors who speak out against government lockdown measures, according to a statement issued on Monday.
“The recent college statement was intended to address communications from a small group of physicians spreading blatant misinformation and putting the public at risk by voicing anti-vaccine and anti-masking sentiments and supporting unsupported, unproven treatments,” said the CPSO in its statement.
“It is not intended to stifle physicians from engaging in a healthy public debate about other measures aimed at addressing public safety during the pandemic.”
The CPSO said its objective is to prioritize examining unprofessional behaviour and irresponsible communication. It is focused on addressing arguments that reject scientific evidence and rouse emotions over reason when people’s health is at risk.
In April, the CPSO said in a statement that it planned on investigating physicians who spoke out against lockdown measures.
“Physicians hold a unique position of trust with the public and have a professional responsibility to not communicate anti-vaccine, anti-masking, anti-distancing, and anti-lockdown statements and/or promoting unsupported, unproven treatments for COVID-19,” said the CPSO.
Physicians were asked to not advocate for people to defy public health measures, because it could lead to an investigation against them.
Multiple public health officials across Canada have spoken out against lockdown measures and certain public health orders.
Ontario pediatrician Dr. Kulvinder Kaur Gill was issued three warnings by the CPSO after her tweets about the COVID-19 pandemic were deemed to be “inappropriate” and “unprofessional.” Gill’s tweets included comments such as “COVID-19 is not a serious health issue” and “There is absolutely no medical or scientific reason for prolonged, harmful, and illogical lockdowns.”
A study completed by Dr. Ari Joffe, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Stollery Children’s Hospital, suggested the harms of lockdowns are ten times greater than the benefits. The study said the harms of lockdowns outweigh the benefits because of interruptions with health care, unemployment, loneliness, declining mental health and more drug overdoses.
In September, a group of Ontario doctors wrote a letter to Premier Doug Ford asking for there to be a localized approach instead of provincewide lockdown measures.