Source: Facebook

Dr. Kulvinder Kaur Gill and her lawyer Lisa Bildy challenged the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario’s decision to place “cautions” on her record as a medical practitioner due to three online posts she made in 2020.

Gill is a physician practicing in Milton and Brampton, Ont., who specializes in pediatrics, allergies, clinical immunology, microbiology, virology, and vaccinology,  and has worked at the National Microbiology Laboratory, Canada’s highest security level-4 biosafety lab.

Gill has never had a complaint from her patients and, before the wave of complaints levied against her in the summer of 2020 from internet activists, had a spotless record.

Bildy argued that Gill’s posts required context as she had a “reasonable scientific basis” for her commentary, which the medical college ignored in its original assessment.

“The committee’s decisions were neither reasonable nor justified and they failed to engage with the central issues for which Dr. Gill was being cautioned,” Bildy said during a Wednesday court hearing.

She argued the comments were not verifiably false and they were only under scrutiny because they deviated from the college and government’s position at the time.

“The decision starts with the premise that doctors have to comply.”

She argued if doctors are unable to criticize government medical policies, it creates a “chilling effect” on those who would otherwise speak up about potentially crucial issues.

Counsel for the college, Sayran Sulevani, challenged this assertion.

“There is no evidence of a chilling effect on speech,” Sulevani said.

While a caution on a doctor’s record is a finding from the college that there is no cause for reprimand, Bildy argued there were lasting potential effects of the cautions remaining on Gill’s record, such as influencing potential future cases and tarnishing the doctor’s public reputation.

“The guidance at the time from the college was (that) physicians should comply with all existing public health measures, protect reputation and public trust by not posting what could be considered unprofessional,” Sulevani said. “It’s important (for) public health (to) have a unified front.”

Gill faced seven complaints in total and a high-level investigation from the CPSO’s registrar.

According to Libertas Law, the firm that represents Gill, most of the complaints involved the same few online posts.

In one of those, Gill said, “If you have not yet figured out that we don’t need a vaccine, you are not paying attention. #FactsNotFear.”

Bildy argued this comment was commentary on what Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer said the day it was made, that vaccines were not a “silver bullet” and the public health measures would likely persist for another two to three years.

Some complaints were submitted against Gill for her commentary on the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID-19 at its early stages, and T-cell immunity in those who had already contracted the virus.

All but three complaints were resolved and dismissed by the regulatory body as it found the comments were “based on reasonable scientific and medical evidence available at the time.”

Sharing a former Harvard professor’s post which called contact tracing, testing, and isolation “ineffective and counterproductive,” was the source of another caution against Gill.

“Counterproductive means the opposite of the intended effect and there was no evidence for that,” Sulevani said.

“The previous decision doesn’t actually review any of her evidence,” Bildy said.

She said the college lacked an internally coherent standard of analysis applied to every complaint.

The CPSO cited the success of South Korea and China’s lockdowns as evidence Gill engaged in disinformation by claiming the lockdowns lacked medical and scientific justification.

“We know that the lockdowns didn’t affect mortality,“ Bildy said. “it didn’t stop transmission. It merely delayed it.”

Gill’s team also tried to prove the college did not give the level of care required by case law when stripping Gill of the right to free speech.

The previous decision by the court requires regulatory bodies to fully engage and consider the Charter of Rights and Freedoms when curtailing the free speech of professionals.

Sulevani’s argument linked Gill’s case to a recent decision by the Divisional Court involving the CPSO and Dr. Jordan Peterson.

The court decided in Peterson’s case those who join a regulated profession, can have their freedom of expression limited by their regulatory body.

“The committee has no interest in shutting down free speech or in preventing physicians from expressing criticism of public health policy,” said the CPSO’s committee in the complaints against Gill.

“A mere nod to free speech is not sufficient,” Bildy said.