Judge: Mr. Cornell
Lawyer of the defendant: Mr. Watts
Lawyer of the plaintiff: Mr. McCarthy
The topic of the paper was not chosen by chance. It is a pre-condition for the effectiveness of any system focusing on the protection of human rights within the Social Service domain. The author is fully aware of the complexity of the issue, notwithstanding the dynamic nature of such a process. Therefore, I decided to study the case of inspection about the safeguarding of health care in one of the Ontario clinics carefully. Among scholars, it has been widely accepted, though not without objections, that Health Care treating has a unique character.
This was a very exciting case, and my experience with it was completely amazing.
I was not so excited at my first attendance in the court. There were several boring cases, and nothing interesting was happening during my first days of practice. Nevertheless, one case attracted my attention. It was very interesting because it was related to real human lives, which were in danger. I know that Social Services are mostly about helping other people in difficult day-to-day life situations, which cannot be dealt with by those people on their own.
This was a unique experience. I was full of curiosity, as it seemed very challenging.
Witnessing in the court and analyzing were the most important methods used in this study. Life experience and theoretical knowledge laid the basis of my perception of this case, and lawyers’ advice on this case helped me understand it deeply.
The case was about voluntary blood donation. The legislation for this case was the Safeguarding Health Care Integrity Act, 2014. This case was held in the Ontario Court of Justice.
In general, this was an important case due to the recent enacting of the Act in 2014. Therefore, the application of the law had no such practice, and the case was very controversial. The accident happened to one woman, and she was in great danger of death due to the effusion of blood. She was in the situation when everything had to be decided in a matter of minutes, simply speaking, she needed new blood.
There was not enough blood of her group to transfuse into her body. Medical workers started to look for donors. Precisely at that time, there was an inspection in this medical institution. Fortunately, medical workers had found the donor before injured women died. Everything was all right then, but the inspector, which had the authority to control and examine the records of this blood transfusion, wanted to ask the donor several questions. Medical workers placed the donor into intensive care.
They refused to give the inspector access to get to the donor due to his poor condition and lack of possibility to answer adequately to the inspector’s questions. The inspector can hold an inspection without a warrant only during the regular business hours (The Safeguarding Health Care Integrity Act, 2014). There happened a big issue; the business day was about to end, and the inspector had some suspicions about the legality of the particular blood transfusion.
He thought that medical workers provided some payment to the donor to get more blood from his body to save the injured woman. That is why they wanted to limit access to the donor and place him under closed medical care. Inspector tried to legally demand permission to speak with the donor in the rehabilitation premise.
However, all his efforts were in vain. Then he tried to use force to enter the medical room where the donor was. He injured (unintentionally – as he said in the court) one of the medical workers, who tried to stop him. This accident provided the possibility to call the police and expel the inspector.
As was said in the court, the inspector had no right to use force to enter and inspect a blood collection facility, business premises, or place (Safeguarding Health Care Integrity Act, 2014). He tried to explain his actions with exceptional reason, which was that all evidence could have been destroyed until a new inspection was held.
This was the main reason why he tried to collect as much information as possible right after the accident. Although the life of injured women was saved, there could occur a law violation of the donor’s rights as well as a violation of the Act, which states that “no donor may receive payments for the blood donation” (Safeguarding Health Care Integrity Act, 2014). His arguments were:
- he was entitled to carrying inspections as per the law;
- his actions were dictated by the intention to protect the legal rights of the persons (the donor and the injured woman);
- he acted under specific circumstances when it was possible to imply that any pieces of evidence of the law violation would not have survived until the next day;
Lawyers of the medical facility accented the judge’s attention to the matter of force used to get to the donor, which caused injury to one of the medical workers and probably was dangerous and could cause harm to the donor, who was very weak to withstand such behavior.
They also said that the business day had already ended before the inspector tried to “realize his legal authority.” Even if such a law violation took place (it means that medical workers paid donor money and took more blood than usual), it was done only to save the life of other human beings and not to get some personal gain.
It seemed logical to me. I really think that the life of a human is very important, and in such situations, one has a legal right to overdo. The process of the blood transfusion was adequate in this case. Inspector was wrong. Maybe he just had a bad day.
In any case, the lawyer of the medical facility won the process, and the inspector was obligated to cover the damage and injury caused by his actions. However, under any other circumstances, medical workers would have done an offense according to the Act. They would have to bear the liability for that “to $10 000 – $500 000 according to the severity of the offense” (The Safeguarding Health Care Integrity Act, 2014).
I have gained a great experience witnessing this case. It clearly shows how different, sometimes polarized, interests may be in contradiction and how important to remain a human in such situations.
As we all know, a decision made in a lower court can be appealed to the next level of the court until the case reaches the Supreme Court of Canada. Lower courts must follow precedents set by higher courts, and thus decisions made by the Supreme Court of Canada influence decisions at all other levels:
“When new legislation is passed, however, the courts must include these directives into the decision-making process. Furthermore, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms must ultimately govern judiciary decisions in that the courts must ensure the legislation does not violate individual rights and freedoms” (Regehr & Kanani, 2006, p.138).
Such a mechanism demonstrates the importance of effective implementation of judgments. These various and rather informal approaches to interpretation, on the one hand, are the reason for inconsistencies in the numerous case-laws among different chambers when deciding cases based on more-less the analogous circumstances. On the other hand, such approaches represent a lesser evil than textual or intentional tendencies present in the past of Ontario Law.
I am very glad that this case achieved the Ontario Court of Justice. It means that such cases will be available to a broad public. I should admit that this case strongly influenced me. I think it changed my view of Social Services. I also realized that human right to life is absolute and cannot be compared with some law regulations and inspection of “who gave money to whom.” This is not right. We should abide not only by laws but also by humanistic feelings.
The law is just a spectrum for some reflection on our common human nature. It does not matter what you do. You may be a lawyer, scientist, student or doctor etc.. but you need to act as an example of a perfect human. We may try to do that, at least. The notion of Health Care services perceptions by the interpreter plays a prominent role.
At first glance, one could be tempted to hastily conclude that there are no significant differences among judges. This is not true because each judge is a unique person, that means the case-law related to the Social Service (particularly to the Health Care) is not made by robots or machines, but rather by humans, who have their mentality and ideology.
I understand that it is difficult to maintain such a perception of the world via our professionally orientated mentality. Nevertheless, we should try. Social Service gives us many various possibilities for self-realization. I think that people who are not able to sacrifice something for others are bad candidates for Social Service officers.
This is a responsible and hard work, which demands a high level of skills, experience, and preparation. That is why the literature and all theoretical knowledge, which we may gain out of it, are very important. This is a way to share international and intertemporal experience and knowledge. However, this is only one of many examples of pluralist views on contemporary reality.
What else to say? First, I think it is important to have such a practice. I would like to thank everyone who helped me to deal with the writing of this paper and for such an amazing possibility to improve myself as a specialist. If my destiny is to work in Social Services (and I would like to do that), I will try to improve not only myself but also the whole system of Social Services.
We have many interesting books published, which are written by high-level professionals. Why can we not use them for help and assistance in our practice? Of course, we cannot use them in day-to-day practice for solving each problem, but we may read them during long winter evenings having a cup of coffee/tea. This is just a metaphor, which is though close to verity.
Secondly, and more importantly, in my opinion, this legislation ought to be interpreted more broadly than implying obligations only for the respondent State. In other words, the Act reflects the erga omnes effect. From a temporal perspective, it ought to be interpreted in a way imposing general obligation ex-ante declared violation on all States to follow the case-law in general.
In other words, States should not wait until held liable for the declared violation but rather take preventive measures to avoid such a decision by adjusting legislation and its application according to the case-law of Ontario and other relevant States.
Regehr, C. & Kanani, K. (2006). Essential law for social work practice in Canada. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Oxford University Press.
Service Ontario. (2014). The Explanatory Note. Web.
Service Ontario. (2014). The Safeguarding Health Care Integrity Act. Web.