DATE: February 27, 2019
PARTIES: N.M. (the “Student”) v. Faculty of Medicine
Hearing Date(s): n/a
written submissions only
Professor Hamish Stewart, Senior Chair
Professor J. Mahrt-Smith, Faculty Governor
Mr. T Sutherland, Student Governor
For the Student Appellant:
Mr. N.M. (the Student)
Mr. Hatim Kheir, Downtown Legal Services
For the Faculty of Medicine:
Ms. Sari Springer, Littler LLP
Faculty of Medicine – Student appeals FMAAC decision to dismiss as abandon his appeal from BoE decision dismissing him from M.D. program – standard of review is reasonableness of FMAAC decision – Student’s FIPPA request provides some explanation for failure to meet appeal deadlines – intention to pursue appeal – no prejudice to Faculty – appeal allowed
The Student appeals from a decision of the Faculty of Medicine’s Academic Appeal Committee (FMAAC) to dismiss as abandoned his appeal from a decision of the Faculty’s Board of Examiners (BoE) to dismiss him from the MD program.
The Student went on a leave of absence from the M.D. program due to difficulties related to substance abuse. He was readmitted to the program on conditions contained in a monitoring agreement with the Physician Health Program. The Student later revoked his consent to one of the conditions causing the BoE to dismiss him from the M.D. program. The Student sought to appeal the BoE’s decision to the FMAAC, but the FMAAC dismissed his appeal as abandoned because he failed to meet more than one deadline for the submission of his Statement of Appeal.
The Academic Appeals Committee (AAC) determined that the applicable standard of review is whether the FMAAC’s decision is a reasonable application of the Faculty’s appeal policy, and not whether the FMAAC’s decision was “capricious or arbitrary” as submitted by the Faculty. Applying the appropriate standard of review, the AAC found some merit in the Student’s explanation that the missed deadlines were due in part to a FIPPA request resulting in the production of almost 900 pages. The AAC reasoned that the right to freedom of information would be of little value in the context of an academic appeal if the time lines for appeals could not be adjusted to give students time to consider the material obtained. The AAC found there could be no doubt that the Student intended to pursue the appeal, and further stated that it had difficulty seeing what prejudice an additional brief extension would have caused to the Faculty. While the ACC determined it would have been better if the Student had formally requested an additional extension in advance of the deadline rather than allowing the deadline to pass, it was nevertheless unreasonable for the FMAAC to treat the Student’s appeal as abandoned. The AAC allowed the appeal and returned the matter to the FMAAC.