The Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association (NSVMA) licenses veterinarians and regulates the practice of veterinary medicine in the province of Nova Scotia. The responsibilities of the NSVMA are set out in the Veterinary Medical Act. The objectives of the Association are to serve and protect the public interest.

One of NSVMA’s responsibilities is to oversee the professional conduct of Nova Scotia veterinarians. Through its Complaints Committee, the NSVMA investigates specific complaints about veterinarians related to the practice of veterinary medicine.

All complaints are investigated in a timely fashion. The information gathering and response process, as well as the review of information by the panel of the complaints committee currently takes about 3 months to conclude. Before filing a complaint, we suggest that you review your concerns with the veterinarian(s) involved. Communication can be the key to resolving many issues and avoiding a lengthy complaints process.

Should you decide to file a formal complaint, please sign and date the complaint, and send it to:
The Registrar, Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association,
11 Memory Lane, Lower Sackville, NS B4C 4H1

Complaints under our Act look at the following allegations: professional misconduct, conduct unbecoming the profession, incompetence or incapacity of a member.

The Complaints Committee consists of seven members. Six are veterinarians and one is a public member.

How does the complaints process start?
In order for the NSVMA to review and investigate complaints from the public, the complaint must be received from the complainant in writing. The complaint should clearly and precisely set out the following information:

  • the name (s) of the veterinarian (s) being complained about
  • the name of the veterinary facility
  • a description of the problem
  • an outline of the concerns or issues for the committee to consider
  • the dates on which the events occurred
  • copies of invoices or other documentation that may aid the committee in its review of the issues
  • the complainant’s full name and mailing address

Once a written complaint is received by the Registrar of the NSVMA an information gathering process begins. To help both the complainant and the respondent (the person or persons subject to the complaint) better understand the process, a summary has been included for your review.

Outline of the Complaints Process

A written complaint is received by the Registrar and forwarded to the Chair of the NSVMA Complaints Committee.

An Investigator is appointed by the Committee Chair to conduct the gathering of information phase of the complaint.

A copy of the complaint is forwarded to the respondent.

The investigator may request additional explanations and interviews from the complainant, the responder or a third party.

A respondent must submit medical information related to the complaint and may submit other information relevant to the complaint to the investigator.

This information will be sent to the complainant who has two choices – to accept the information provided and exit the complaint, or to respond to the information provided.
Should the complainant provide a response, the information contained in that response will be sent to the respondent for his/her comments. In effect, each party has two opportunities to provide information.

Upon conclusion of the investigation, the investigator will submit the gathered information to the members of the Complaints Committee through the committee chair.

The Panel of the Complaints Committee must then decide:
If an informal resolution be considered
If the compliant is not within the jurisdiction of the association, is unsubstantiated, frivolous or vexatious, dismiss the complaint.
If (i) and (ii) do not apply, then all parties are provided the opportunity to voluntarily appear before the panel for further information sharing only. Once all the information is gathered, the panel of the Complaints Committee will then decide to:
dismiss the complaint
counsel and/or caution the respondent
reprimand the respondent
informally resolve the complaint
Refer the matter to the Professional Conduct Committee.
The committee panel will review all of the material and discuss it at a meeting. The committee may arrive at a decision based only on the correspondence received or it may request further information or expert advice.

The decision of the Complaints Committee will be prepared in writing and sent to the complainant (s) and the responding veterinarian (s) following the decision and approval of the committee through the NSVMA Council.

Can the Complaints Committee award money or damages?
No, only the courts can do this. If the issue of liability and damages or partial reimbursement was raised in your comments, I should advise you that the Veterinary Medical Act, a statute of the province of Nova Scotia, is an act passed by the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly. The powers and authority of the Nova Scotia Veterinary Medical Association are limited to those granted by the Act. The NSVMA has no legal authority or power to make a “determination” or finding of liability. Similarly, the authority and potential to award damages or reimbursement is a power reserved for the court system.

Current Decisions:

Dr. S. VanZwol

Dr. Kevin Chermak