Every occupational therapist who practices occupational therapy in the province of Nova Scotia is required to be registered by the College of Occupational Therapists of Nova Scotia (COTNS).

One very important function of the College is to investigate concerns about occupational therapists' practices. As a self-regulating profession, the College has the responsibility to investigate, where appropriate, complaints concerning the conduct of Occupational Therapists registered with COTNS.

What if I have a complaint?

Concerns can be brought forward to the College in a variety of ways. Complaints may come forward from members of the public who believe they are not receiving appropriate care. Concerns may also come forward from employers or colleagues of occupational therapists who may be required, in certain specific circumstances, to report concerns to the College.

The College is required by law to investigate all concerns brought to its attention.

The College is not the same as a court of law.

 There are two distinct decision-making bodies within the COTNS discipline process - the Investigation Committee and the Hearing Committee.

It is important for the public and the College members to recognize that complaints do NOT necessarily proceed through to both committees.

Although the Discipline Process (Brochure) is explained in the Occupational Therapists Act (1998, c.21), the following information is provided as a resource to clarify this process.

Initiating a Complaint

A complaint can be put forth to the College by:

To ensure adequate assessment of the complaint, the College requests that complaints be in writing. Please describe in detail the conduct that you consider to be inappropriate and provide your contact information. You may send your written complaint and any supporting documents to:

The College of Occupational Therapists of Nova Scotia
203-380 Bedford Highway
Halifax, NS
B3M 2L4

Once the College receives the complaint a person appointed by the Investigations Committee may contact you to obtain further clarification and/or information regarding the complaint. This information, along with the original complaint, will then be forwarded to the Investigation Committee for review.

Stage 1: The Investigation Committee

The Investigation Committee is appointed by the Board and consists of at least 3 members, as described in the Occupational Therapists Act, 1998, c.21.

The Investigation Committee will then decide if further information is required and obtain this information in due course. Upon receipt of the written complaint and upon giving to the member a copy of the complaint, this information may be obtained in the following manner:

  1. 1.Conducting an investigation or practice audit;
  2. 2.Requiring a member, named in written complaint to:
Powers of Disposition:

Once the required information is obtained and the complaint is reviewed, the Investigation Committee may proceed in one or more of the following ways:

Stage 2: The Hearing Committee:

Should the complaint not be resolved as outlined above, or should the Investigation Committee feel the complaint is best handled in a more formal process, the Investigation Committee may refer the matter to the Hearing Committee.

At a hearing, of the Hearing Committee, the member is entitled to all the rights of natural justice, including the right to be represented by legal counsel, to know all of the evidence considered by the hearing committee, to present evidence and to cross-examine the witness.

The procedure at the hearing is described in Section 60 of the Occupational Therapist's Act (1998, c.21).

The Hearing Committee shall determine whether the member is guilty of the charges and may decide that:

Should the Hearing Committee find the member NOT guilty, the charges may be dismissed.

The Hearing Committee files its decision and reasons at the offices of the College and provides copies to the member, the complainant, and other persons considered appropriate.

The decision of the Hearing Committee has effect immediately or from such time as mentioned in the decision.

Appeal Process

The member complained against may appeal on any point of law from the findings of the hearing committee to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.

Where a matter is appealed to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, the Court may, in its discretion, grant a stay of any order made pursuant to the Act, pending the Court's decision.

Hearing Committee Decisions

Please note, the above information is provided as a resource only. For detailed information regarding the Discipline Process, please refer to the Occupational Therapist's Act (1998, c.21).

If you have any questions or comments, you may contact us by phone: (902) 455-0556 or via email at: registrar@cotns.ca