Source: Facebook/X

An Ontario court struck down a doctor’s judicial challenge of “cautions” ordered against her by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.

The Ontario Superior Court ruled against Dr. Kulvinder Kaur Gill’s application for judicial review, which sought to have the admonition removed from her professional record. Gill now plans to appeal the decision to the Court of Appeal for Ontario.

The cautions were ordered in February 2021 regarding comments Gill made on X in 2020 criticizing COVID policy and some public health guidance.

The court ordered Gill to pay the college $6,000 in legal costs.

Gill is seeking leave to appeal the decision with financial support from X; the tech company financed her judicial review, keeping with a policy announced by X owner Elon Musk to support anyone penalized or sanctioned for comments made on the platform.

Though other complaints against her were dismissed after her comments were found to be reasonable given the evidence available at the time, two posts she made on X were cited as reasons to maintain the warnings on her record.

The court called one “the vaccine tweet,” in which Gill said, “If you have not yet figured out that we don’t need a vaccine, you are not paying attention.”

Gill argued that it was a response to a comment from Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, saying vaccines were not a “silver bullet” and other restrictions would likely persist for another two to three years.

“(Dr. Gill) did not provide any evidence to support her statement indicating that a vaccine is not necessary. It would be expected and understandable if a certain proportion of the general public who read this statement decided to decline the vaccine with the assurance that they were acting on the guidance of a physician. For this reason, the Committee considers it irresponsible, and a potential risk to public health, for (Dr. Gill) to have made this statement in the middle of the pandemic,” the college’s investigative body said of Gill’s comment.

The other is referred to as “the lockdown tweet,” in which Gill states, “There is absolutely no medical or scientific reason for this prolonged, harmful and illogical lockdown.” 

Gill argued that her lockdown post was accurate as the lockdown policies at the time did not account for the negative costs to mental health and healthcare due to delayed or cancelled medical appointments.

The college’s investigative committee looked into Gill’s original posts and argued that it is valid to “point out that there are drawbacks to lockdowns” but that Gill did not raise these points.

The court upheld the college’s decision that the posts spread misinformation and found they did not provide enough qualifying context or evidence, which could have led people to make medical decisions contrary to public health recommendations.

While Gill was ordered to be cautioned and not reprimanded, Gill’s lawyer, Lisa Bildy, argued that this stains Gill’s otherwise spotless record as a physician.

The cautions could influence the college’s future decisions and tarnish the doctor’s public reputation, Bildy said.

The court, however, determined that the “suggestion that it will threaten her reputation, and thus her livelihood, amounts to no more than mere speculation.”

In a thread posted on X, Gill said she was “compelled by (her) conscience to first do no harm and oppose the lockdowns.”