page title icon The Year in Review & The Year Ahead

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Regulating in the Public Interest

The College, tasked with regulating medical practice in the public interest, recognizes that this legislated duty calls for transparency in its decision-making processes.

The public and the profession look to the College to be accountable in the exercise of its authority. Taking steps to continuously meet this expectation is at the core of the College’s proactive approach to strengthening public trust.

Mission, Vision & Commitment


Our mission is to serve the public by effectively regulating the medical profession.


Our vision is to be a respected leader that protects the public while supporting the medical profession.


Our commitment is to be thorough, clear, decisive and fair. We will engage the public and the profession.


Our work will reflect the value we place in:

Input from the public and the profession;
Excellence in medical care; and
Prescribing Data

Prescribing Data

Monitored Drug Utilization

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The Year in Review: highlights

The global pandemic dominated our entire health care system in 2020, including the work of the College. The arrival of COVID-19 compelled change and flexibility. The College streamlined no-fee emergency licensure for recently retired physicians. We adopted licensing policies for physicians unable to challenge the Medical Council of Canada (MCC) or certification exams, resulting in a significant expansion of supervision and sponsorship programs. We weighed in on the scope of practice, allowing physicians to accept deployment for the pandemic response to areas outside their normal scope of practice. We collaborated with Health Canada and with the College of Pharmacy to allow for paperless renewal of controlled substances for vulnerable patients. We developed guidance for physicians on pandemic practice, from virtual medicine to the logistics of running a practice. Change took place daily.

On the operational front, the College had a pandemic and a business continuity plan already in place when COVID-19 arrived. We transitioned to remote work seamlessly, without interruption of services. In recognition of the strains of the pandemic, the launching of new peer reviews was postponed. Otherwise, the work of the College, which included a significant increase in complaints, navigated the challenges of this unusual year.

COVID-19 notwithstanding, the province continued with a five-year decline in monitored drug utilization as indicated by the data below.


Monitored Drug Utilization 2016 – 2020

The Year ahead: Strategic Plan 2021-2022

Access to Healthcare

To serve the public, our goal is to licence competent physicians, to not licence incompetent physicians, and to licence physicians to the limits of their competence. We seek to do so with due diligence, reasonableness and fairness.

This requires flexibility and collaboration, particularly when considering applications from physicians who do not qualify for full licensure. We are grateful for the help of the health authorities, Dalhousie University, and the many physicians who work as sponsors and supervisors of our provisionally licensed physicians.

We are committed to constantly re-examine our approach to licensing. This important work is led by our Registration Policy Committee.

When it is safe and in the public interest, we will continue to be flexible. To increase access to care, in recent years we have expanded the role for clinical assistants across the province and are involved in a pilot project involving physician assistants. We are expanding our approach to restricted licences, granting renewable licensure to physicians lacking certain qualifications to practice independently within an identified scope. We are deeply involved in practice-ready assessments for family physicians and specialists. This commitment to safe flexibility will extend through 2021.


We have commissioned an independent review of the College’s operations, requesting recommendations that can be implemented immediately to address and prevent anti-Black racism. The working group is composed of a panel of African Nova Scotian physicians and community leaders. We anticipate the report will be in hand mid-2021.

Sexual Misconduct Complaints

The volume of complainants alleging sexual misconduct continues to grow annually. We now have two committees specifically tasked with the expedited investigation of the most serious complaints, which would include all complaints involving sexual misconduct.

The College took purposeful steps to manage the stress placed on physicians and complainants involved in the investigation process. We continued to invest in training on trauma-informed investigations and interviews. Through our Public Support Advisor, complainants have the benefit of professional advice and navigation. We can continue to work closely with the Physician Support Program and the Physician Navigator Program of Doctors Nova Scotia.

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