Nature of Action and Reasons: On April 12 and 13, 2022, a panel of the Discipline Committee of the College of Massage Therapists of British Columbia (the “College”) was convened to hear a citation issued to former registrant Michelle Gaudet. The citation set out allegations regarding Ms. Gaudet’s failure to attend an interview required by the College as well as her failure to respond in a professional, responsive and timely manner to inquiries, requests and directions from the College in relation to the required interview. Ms. Gaudet was a registered massage therapist at the time of the events described in the citation but ceased to be a registrant of the College on January 14, 2021, when she resigned her registration.
Following the discipline hearing, the Discipline Committee panel issued a decision and reasons dated November 28, 2022 (PDF) in which the panel made determinations of unprofessional conduct in relation to both allegations set out in the citation. These findings are summarized below.
The panel found that on December 4, 2020, Ms. Gaudet failed to attend an interview with a College inspector as required by the Inquiry Committee of the College as part of its investigation into her conduct. The panel noted that the College had:
The panel considered that section 65.1 of the College’s Bylaws empowers the Inquiry Committee to require a registrant to attend for an interview. The use of the word “require” is significant and must be read to mean that the attendance is mandatory. The panel found that Ms. Gaudet’s failure to attend the interview was a failure to comply with the College’s Bylaws for the purposes of section 39(1) of the Health Professions Act. Therefore, the panel determined that by failing to attend the interview, Ms. Gaudet committed unprofessional conduct.
The panel found that Ms. Gaudet failed to respond to inquiries, requests and directions from the College in relation to the required interview in a professional, responsive and timely manner.
Between February 2019 and December 2020, Ms. Gaudet communicated to the College that she would not cooperate with the College’s investigative and disciplinary process into her conduct until she retained legal counsel. The College provided Ms. Gaudet with numerous extensions of time in order for her to retain legal counsel; however, she did not do so. On multiple occasions, Ms. Gaudet demanded that College representatives cease communicating with her, and she indicated that she would not respond or that she would block or otherwise ignore the College’s emails.
The panel noted that throughout her communications to the College, Ms. Gaudet’s demands that the College suspend its investigation showed a lack of professionalism and a lack of respect for the College’s role as a regulator. In addition, the panel found that on many occasions, the language that Ms. Gaudet used in her communications to the College was sarcastic and impertinent. The panel considered that a registrant’s duty to cooperate with a College investigation is critical to the functioning of a self-regulating body.
The panel determined that Ms. Gaudet’s failure to retain legal counsel could not justify her failure to attend the interview or cooperate with the College’s requests. To find otherwise would violate the College’s public interest mandate and defeat the very foundation of the self-regulatory system. The panel stated that Ms. Gaudet’s flagrant refusal to attend the mandatory interview was serious; therefore, the panel determined Ms. Gaudet committed unprofessional conduct.
Following the issuance of the November 28, 2022 decision, the panel, as required by law, requested submissions in writing from the College and Ms. Gaudet regarding the appropriate penalty and costs. When the panel has issued a decision regarding penalty and costs, this public notice will be updated.