Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code

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    Quick Poll

    Do you think a physician should be allowed to refuse to provide a patient with a treatment or procedure because it conflicts with the physician’s religious or moral beliefs?

    • Yes (77%, 25,230 Votes)
    • No (23%, 7,616 Votes)
    • Don't know (0%, 66 Votes)

    Total Voters: 32,912

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    Our Process

    Learn more about the College’s consultation process here

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    The College’s Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code policy is currently being reviewed. This policy sets out physicians’ legal obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the Code) and the College’s expectations that physicians will respect the fundamental rights of those who seek their medical services. It aims to assist the profession in understanding its existing legal and professional obligations, and provide physicians with guidance about how to comply with these obligations in everyday practice.

    View the current policy

    To assist with this review, we are inviting feedback from all stakeholders, including members of the medical profession, the public, health system organizations and other health professionals on the current policy. Comments received during this preliminary consultation will assist the College in updating the policy. When a revised draft is developed, it will be recirculated for further comment before it is finalized by Council.


    Thank you for your interest in our policy review

    The consultation period is now closed

                    • Feedback received is available for viewing on our discussion forum
                    • Due to the high volume of feedback received, we continue to post previously submitted comments



    The Ontario Human Rights Code articulates that every Ontario resident has a right to receive equal treatment with respect to goods, services and facilities without discrimination based on a number of grounds, including race, age, colour, sex, sexual orientation, and disability. This imposes a duty on all those who provide services in Ontario-which includes physicians providing medical services-to provide these services free from discrimination.

    The College’s Council approved the Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code policy in September 2008. The current policy outlines the expectation that physicians comply with the Code when making any decision relating to the provision of medical services, including decisions to accept or refuse individuals as patients, decisions about providing treatment or granting referrals to existing patients, and decisions to end a physician-patient relationship.

    The expectations for physicians in the policy are divided into two sections: physicians’ obligations to provide medical services without discrimination and physicians’ obligations to accommodate the disabilities of patients or individuals who wish to become patients. Included in the first section of the policy is specific direction pertaining to physicians’ moral and religious beliefs in the provision of medical care.

    The College recognizes that religious and moral beliefs are central to the lives of physicians and their patients. The current policy addresses situations in which physicians’ personal, moral or religious beliefs may affect or limit the medical services they provide. The policy provides physicians with an overview of the relevant legal obligations and factors related to these situations. The policy also articulates the College’s own expectations for physicians who limit their practice, refuse to accept individuals as patients or end a physician-patient relationship on the basis of moral or religious belief.

    Have Your Say

    We would like to hear your thoughts on the current policy, along with suggestions you may have for how the policy could be improved.

    In particular, we are interested to know:

        • Does the policy provide useful guidance?
        • Are there issues not addressed in the current policy that should be addressed? If so, what are they?
        • Are there other ways in which the policy should be improved?


    Next Steps

    The College is committed to ensuring that the Physicians and the Ontario Human Rights Code policy reflects current practice issues, embodies the values and duties of medical professionalism, and is consistent with the College’s mandate to protect the public. The feedback obtained during this consultation will be carefully reviewed and used to evaluate the draft. While it may not be possible to ensure that every comment or suggested edit will be incorporated into the revised policy, all comments will be carefully considered.

    Once a revised draft policy has been developed, stakeholders will be invited to review the revised document and provide further feedback before it is considered for final approval by Council.

    Final decisions regarding policy revisions are made by College Council.

    To ensure transparency, the College will post all consultation feedback in accordance with our posting guidelines.

    We value your feedback and thank you again for participating in our policy review process.


    Contact us by email


    Contact us by mail:

    College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario
    80 College Street
    Toronto, Ontario

    Attention: Policy Department