Frequency Asked Questions


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

ABOUT THE CNPS

What does the CNPS do?
What are the benefits of becoming a CNPS beneficiary?
How does the CNPS professional liability protection differ from the professional liability protection offered by a commercial insurance company?
What is CNPS Plus and how it is different from the CNPS?
How can I change my address or other personal information?
Why is it important to keep my contact information updated?

CNPS SERVICES

What types of assistance can I seek from CNPS?
Will I be protected by CNPS if I am in independent practice?
Will it make a difference whether I work alone or with others?
Am I protected if I work as a nurse at a summer camp?
Is protection available from CNPS if I provide nursing services as a volunteer?
Will I be protected by CNPS when working in a foreign country?
If I take a nursing job on a cruise ship which travels outside Canadian waters, would CNPS still assist me if I get sued?

APPLICATION PROCESS

Who can apply on an individual basis to become a CNPS beneficiary?
How do I apply?
I don’t have access to the internet, how can I get a copy of the CNPS application form?
How can I pay my registration fees?
Does CNPS accept other forms of payment, such as a personalized cheque?
Does my registration become effective once the CNPS receives my application?
If I am a member of a CNPS member organization but also practice in Ontario or Quebec, do I need to also apply for individual beneficiary status as well?
For how long does my CNPS registration remain in effect?
Why can’t my protection or eligibility date begin prior to when I sent in my application and payment?
What do I do if I need the start date of my PLP to be a future date?
The CNPS provides occurrence-based protection. What does this mean?
Can I use the confirmation of receipt of payment and CNPS beneficiary number as evidence that I am eligible for the CNPS professional liability protection?
What constitutes a letter confirming proof of professional liability protection?
My employer requires a proof of my professional liability protection. How do I get this proof?
If I have an independent practice or a clinic, do I need more liability protection?

TAIL COVERAGE AND EXTENDED REPORTING PERIOD

What is “tail coverage”?
How do I know whether I need tail coverage?
How do I obtain tail coverage?

PROCESSING FEES AND TURNAROUND

It’s been more than 10 business days since I sent my application – What should I do?
Why are CNPS fees different for RNs and NPs if RNs and NPs can access the same legal assistance and professional liability protection?
If I need to access CNPS services and professional liability protection for less than a full year, can I pay a reduced fee?

IDENTITY VERIFICATION PROCESS

Why do I need to provide my date of birth as part of the application process?
Why do you recommend using a personal email address and not my work email address?
Why do you need to indicate on the application form if I am an independent contractor?
Do I need to sign the application form if I am sending it to CNPS by email?

CNPS PROTECTION FOR STUDENTS

What can CNPS do for students?
What can't CNPS do for students?
When does one become eligible for CNPS protection and services?
I am planning to take a course in the USA. Will I still be protected by CNPS?
Who is liable when a nursing student is on a placement?
Can a nursing student be sued?
Why aren't students eligible for CNPS financial assistance?

TECHNICAL QUESTIONS

How will I know that my application has been received and that my registration is in effect?
I didn’t receive a confirmation from CNPS that my application was received. Why?
I didn’t receive a confirmation that my payment was received. Why?
I can’t seem to use the email button to send you my application. Why?

 

About the CNPS

What does the CNPS do?

The Canadian Nurses Protective Society (CNPS®) is a not-for-profit society that offers legal advice, risk management services, legal assistance and professional liability protection related to nursing practice to eligible registered nurses and nurse practitioners. For more information about CNPS services and benefits, contact CNPS at 1-844-4MY-CNPS (1-844-469-2677) or visit www.cnps.ca.

What are the benefits of becoming a CNPS beneficiary?

For information about CNPS services, please consult the “What we do” section of the CNPS website.

How does the CNPS professional liability protection differ from the professional liability protection offered by a commercial insurance company?

The specific terms of the professional liability protection offered by insurance companies are defined by contract and can vary depending on the providers or the packages provided by each provider. 

Presented below are the typical differences to assist nurses in making informed decisions about their professional liability protection:

 

 

CNPS

Commercial PLP

Limits of protection

Determined by the CNPS Board of Directors, with the objective of providing all beneficiaries sufficient protection to defend a claim and pay all compensatory damages awarded against them, even at the level of a catastrophic injury. 

Different limits are available at different costs; nurses are to determine what is appropriate for their practice.

Extent of protection

CNPS protection against professional liability is generally broader than claims for professional negligence; generally extends to other forms of proceedings arising from nursing practice such as breach of privacy, defamation, alleged boundary violations.

Professional liability or “errors and omissions” coverage generally extends to claims for professional negligence, excluding intentional torts, defamation, etc.  These additional protections may however be available in some cases.

How it is decided whether a legal defense will be  provided in the event of a claim

CNPS assistance is discretionary, which means that requests for assistance are considered on a case by case basis. This allows the CNPS, an organization created by nurses to support nurses, to verify that the claim arises from nursing care, and to provide adequate protection and assistance to the nurse taking into account the specific circumstances of the case.  Assistance is generally not granted if the claim is already adequately covered by insurance. 

Decisions are made based on the wording of the policy, including the exclusions listed in the policy, which may include coverage by another policy.

How long the nurse will remain protected

 

Note:  Claims in health care can be commenced many years after the care was provided.  It is important for nurses to have protection that extends into the future.

CNPS protection is occurrence-based, which means that a nurse who is or was a CNPS beneficiary when providing care will remain eligible for CNPS professional liability protection with respect to civil and other legal proceedings arising from that care (provided that it is the type of proceeding with which the CNPS normally assists), irrespective of when the claim and/or legal proceedings are commenced in the future.

Commercial professional liability insurance is typically provided on a claims-made basis, which means that coverage extends to claims commenced and reported while the policy in still in force.  To maintain coverage for care provided in the past, nurses must either continue to renew the policy or purchase “tail coverage” which will usually extend coverage for a number of years, as specified in the policy.

Adjunct services

The CNPS has a wide range of services included within the beneficiary fee, including legal advice and education about new legal developments to support you in your day to day practice. For more information, please visit www.cnps.ca

Inquire with the insurance company or broker.

 

What is CNPS Plus and how it is different from the CNPS?

The CNPS was created and operates to provide legal support to individual nurses. 

Nurses who own a professional corporation or nursing practice, who operate a clinic, or otherwise operate a business providing nursing services, require additional liability protection for their business, in addition to their individual professional liability protection.  CNPS Plus is a liability insurance program designed to provide liability protection for nurses’ clinic or business entity.  It has recently been re-designed to better complement the individual professional liability protection provided by the CNPS. 

For more information about the CNPS Plus Program, please visit the “Beneficiary Services – CNPS Plus” section of our site (www.cnps.ca).

How can I change my address or other personal information?

You can write, email or call CNPS to notify of any change to your contact information.

Why is it important to keep my contact information updated?

CNPS protection is occurrence based, which means if you were a beneficiary of CNPS and held a valid license to practice nursing when providing the care giving rise to a legal proceeding, you will remain eligible for CNPS assistance.  Since a claim or legal proceeding can be commenced several years after an adverse event, it is vital for CNPS to have current contact information.  This will also be important when you retire or to eventually protect your estate. 

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CNPS services

What types of assistance can I seek from CNPS?

The CNPS provides legal support to Canadian nurses so that they may, in turn, fulfill their mission of providing the best possible care to their patients. 

CNPS may also offer financial assistance for a defence of lawsuits brought against nurses. When you are sued, you have no choice but to defend yourself. As a nursing organization, CNPS exists to ensure that resources are available to defend nurses placed in this situation. CNPS cannot, however, offer legal or financial support to a nurse who wishes to sue someone. That is a matter of choice. If a nurse chooses to initiate legal action against another person, the nurse must be prepared to bear the costs.

Will I be protected by CNPS if I am in independent practice?

Nurses in independent practice are eligible for full CNPS benefits, the same as nurses in any other nursing role, provided they belong to their provincial/territorial professional nursing associations/colleges and that their associations/colleges are members of CNPS; or if they are an individual beneficiary of CNPS. The protection offered by CNPS, however, applies only to nurses performing a nursing service and does not apply to a business entity nor to the nurse as owner, operator or manager of a business, even if it is a health care business.

Will it make a difference whether I work alone or with others?

There are different ways to structure a business. The most straightforward way is to be self-employed with no business partners. This is a sole proprietorship. Another way is to go into partnership with another person or persons. Incorporation is also a possibility.

CNPS offers liability protection to nurses working as sole proprietors, but CNPS protection will not extend to liability arising from a partnership and it will not protect a corporation. These are business entities and not direct providers of care. Business insurance, such as that provided through CNPS Plus® is available to nurses across Canada at a reasonable cost.

Important Tip

Each business entity has different legal and financial implications, including tax consequences. CNPS strongly recommends that you consult a business lawyer in your province or territory to help you choose which business entity would best fit your needs. 

Am I protected if I work as a nurse at a summer camp?

Many nurses spend part of their summer at a camp as a “camp nurse”. Some nurses are paid while others are volunteers. Regardless of whether a camp nurse is paid or is a volunteer, CNPS protection is available to camp nurses provided they belong to their provincial/territorial professional nursing associations/colleges and that their associations/colleges are members of CNPS; or if they are an individual beneficiary of CNPS. You may want to ascertain whether the camp carries any professional liability insurance for nurses.

You may also wish to consult your provincial/territorial licensing body for information on camp nursing. Several have good publications on camp nursing.

Is protection available from CNPS if I provide nursing services as a volunteer?

CNPS protection is not conditional on you being paid for your nursing services. If you are providing professional nursing services on a volunteer basis, CNPS protection is available to you so long as you belong to a provincial/territorial professional nursing associations/colleges and this association/college is a member of CNPS; or if you are an individual beneficiary of CNPS at the time of an incident.

Will I be protected by CNPS when working in a foreign country?

CNPS benefits remain in place even if you work as a nurse outside of Canada, providing you remain a member in good standing of your provincial/territorial professional association/college and this association/college is a member of CNPS; or if you are an individual beneficiary of CNPS. To obtain legal and financial assistance from CNPS, in the event of a lawsuit, you must be a CNPS beneficiary at the time of the occurrence and the lawsuit against you must be started in Canada. When undertaking a nursing role in another country, it is prudent to explore the avenues of insurance available to you through your new employer.

If I take a nursing job on a cruise ship which travels outside Canadian waters, would CNPS still assist me if I get sued?

Providing professional nursing services while on a luxury cruise appeals to some nurses as an affordable way to travel. CNPS protection is available to you even if you work as a nurse outside of Canada, providing you remain a member in good standing of your provincial/territorial professional association/college and this association/college is a member of CNPS, or if you are an individual beneficiary of CNPS, and the lawsuit is brought in Canada. Since you cannot control where a lawsuit is started, it is wise to determine what liability insurance the employer carries for its nurses as that would be your first source of protection. The CNPS infoLAW bulletin on Vicarious Liability may help you understand the obligations of an employer regarding the liability of employees.

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Application process

Who can apply on an individual basis to become a CNPS beneficiary?

Registered nurses and nurse practitioners who have a valid nursing licence or registration to practice nursing in Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec can apply to become an individual beneficiary of CNPS services.

Nurses who are registered with a CNPS member organisation (ARNNL, ARNPEI, CARNA, ARNM, CRNNS, NANB, RNANT/NU, SRNA, YRNA, CRNBC) are already eligible for CNPS as a benefit of membership.

How do I apply?

Detailed instructions are provided under the "Become a CNPS Beneficiary” section of the CNPS website.

I don’t have access to the internet, how can I get a copy of the CNPS application form?

You can call CNPS at 1-844-4MY-CNPS and request a copy by fax or mail.

How can I pay my registration fees?

The CNPS has enabled electronic payment services for our beneficiaries’ convenience. This will allow us to receive payment and process your application as rapidly as possible.

Does CNPS accept other forms of payment, such as a personalized cheque?

If you do not wish to process payment by way of an electronic transaction, we can accept a certified cheque or a money order, payable to the Canadian Nurses Protective Society, in Canadian currency.

Does my registration become effective once the CNPS receives my application?

If you have individual beneficiary status with the CNPS, the registration year is January 1st to December 31st.  Your beneficiary status will be effective on the date we receive your application form (provided payment accompanies the application) and will remain in effect until December 31st of that year.  After December 31st, you will need to renew with CNPS but you will remain eligible for CNPS protection with respect to care that you provided while you were a beneficiary.

If I am a member of a CNPS member organization but also practice in Ontario or Quebec, do I need to also apply for individual beneficiary status as well? 

CNPS services and protection extends to care provided in all Canadian provinces and territories in which a CNPS beneficiary is registered.  Accordingly, nurses who are already CNPS beneficiaries by virtue of their membership in a CNPS member organization need not apply for individual beneficiary status if they also practice in Ontario or Quebec.

For how long does my CNPS registration remain in effect?

You will remain a CNPS beneficiary providing you are a member in good standing of your provincial/territorial professional association/college and this association/college is a member of CNPS; or if you are an individual beneficiary of CNPS. After you retire or are no longer a member of a CNPS member organization, you will continue to remain eligible for CNPS protection and legal assistance as a past beneficiary in respect of any legal issue that arises from the care you provided while you were a beneficiary.

Why can’t my protection or eligibility date begin prior to when I sent in my application and payment?

This ensures that CNPS protection is in place in advance of any adverse event or circumstance giving rise to a need for legal assistance.

What do I do if I need the start date of my PLP to be a future date?

Once you have completed the application form and payment, you can instruct the CNPS by phone or email.  Currently, CNPS services and protection are available for the full calendar year and payment is not pro-rated.  To be eligible for CNPS services and protection, you must have a valid license or registration to practice nursing in the province or territory where you will be providing nursing services.

The CNPS provides occurrence-based protection.  What does this mean?

Claims in health care can be commenced many years after the care was provided.  It is important for nurses to have protection that extends into the future.

CNPS protection is occurrence-based, which means that a nurse who is or was a CNPS beneficiary when providing care will remain eligible for CNPS professional liability protection with respect to civil and other legal proceedings arising from that care (provided that these are proceedings with which the CNPS normally assists), irrespective of when the claim and/or legal proceedings are commenced in the future.

Can I use the confirmation of receipt of payment and CNPS beneficiary number as evidence that I am eligible for the CNPS professional liability protection? 

The receipt acknowledging payment and providing you with a CNPS beneficiary number will confirm that we have successfully processed your application/renewal. This receipt may also be used for tax purposes. You can subsequently request a letter confirming proof of professional liability protection for your employer, or a third party, by making a separate request to CNPS.

What constitutes a letter confirming proof of professional liability protection?

The letter confirming your eligibility to the CNPS professional liability protection is addressed to an employer, health care organization, administrator or other third party and specifically describes, using the necessary precise legal language, the protection that is available to you from CNPS.  The language in this letter, as well as the advice that we provide you when it is requested, are additional measures to protect you and limit your scope of liability in the event of a claim.  It is therefore important that you contact the CNPS to obtain the appropriate document if you are asked to provide evidence of professional liability protection.

My employer requires a proof of my professional liability protection. How do I get this proof?

Where evidence of adequate professional liability protection must be provided to a third party, the CNPS will provide you a written confirmation of eligibility addressed to that third party that provides the necessary legal details about the CNPS professional liability protection.  You can obtain a copy of this confirmation by contacting the CNPS at 1-844-4MY-CNPS.

This third party confirmation specifically describes, using the necessary precise legal language, the protection that is available to you from the CNPS protection.  The language in this letter, as well as the advice that we provide you when it is requested, are additional measures to protect you and limit your scope of liability in the event of a claim.  It is therefore important that you contact the CNPS to obtain the appropriate document if you are asked to provide evidence of professional liability protection.

If I have an independent practice or a clinic, do I need more liability protection?

In limited circumstances, CNPS individual protection will extend to your business (sole proprietorship). In most circumstances, it will be necessary to purchase additional liability insurance specifically for your business. This is available through the CNPS Plus program.  For more information, please visit the “Beneficiary Services – CNPS Plus” section of our site (www.cnps.ca).

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Tail coverage and extended reporting period

What is “tail coverage”?

Claims in health care can be commenced many years after the care was provided.  It is therefore important for nurses to have protection that extends well into the future.

Commercial professional liability insurance is typically provided on a claims-made basis, which means that coverage extends to claims reported only while the policy in still in force.  To extend coverage into the future in respect of past care, nurses must either continue to renew their policy or purchase “tail coverage” which is an additional protection that will usually extend coverage for a number of years, as specified in the policy. 

How do I know whether I need tail coverage?

The purchase of tail coverage should be contemplated if you rely on individual professional liability insurance and are retiring from practice, moving from one insurer to another, or changing from an claims-made coverage to occurrence-based protection (CNPS provides occurrence-based protection).  In such a case, it would be advisable to purchase a tail coverage as long as it is available.

If you are seeking individual access to CNPS services because you have moved from another province or territory where you were already a CNPS beneficiary, you do not need to purchase tail coverage because the CNPS occurrence-based protection already has built-in protection for future claims arising from past care.

How do I obtain tail coverage?

Tail coverage can usually be obtained by contacting your insurance broker. 

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Processing fees and turnaround

It’s been more than 10 business days since I sent my application – What should I do?

The CNPS monitors the completion time of each request it receives and it is committed to processing your application in the specified timeframe.  If 10 days have elapsed, there may be other reasons causing the delay. In such a case, please contact the CNPS for further details.

Why are CNPS fees different for RNs and NPs if RNs and NPs can access the same legal assistance and professional liability protection?    

Generally, nurse practitioners have a broader scope of practice than registered nurses. As a result of their role within the health care team, they are more likely to be perceived as making the ultimate decision regarding patient care and are more likely to be involved in litigation in which higher amounts are being claimed.

If I need to access CNPS services and professional liability protection for less than a full year, can I pay a reduced fee?

CNPS fees are not pro-rated.  The full annual fee must be paid to access CNPS services and professional liability protection at any time in the course of the year.

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Identity verification process

Why do I need to provide my date of birth as part of the application process?

The date of birth is used as one of the unique identifiers to associate beneficiary information to the correct profiles and for record keeping purposes.  Being able to clearly identify all our beneficiaries is necessary to ensure that we protect the confidentiality of their information.

Why do you recommend using a personal email address and not my work email address?

Your employer may have a legal right to access the information contained in your work e-mail mailbox.  Since CNPS assistance is confidential and because your work email address may change more frequently, we recommend the use of a personal email address.

Why do you need to indicate on the application form if I am an independent contractor?

It provides an indication as to whether the CNPS is likely to be your primary provider of professional liability profession and is therefore important for planning purposes.

Do I need to sign the application form if I am sending it to CNPS by email?

If you are sending the application by mail or fax, we require that you sign the application.  If you are sending the application via email and do not have an electronic signature, we will accept this field being left blank for the convenience of using email and will verify your identity and authenticity of the request through other means.

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CNPS protection for students

What can CNPS do for students?

The Canadian Nurses Protective Society (CNPS) provides professional liability information to students through the CNPS web site. This is the only CNPS service available to students.

The CNPS web site is a valuable resource for students, to learn about risks that nurses face in practice. The infoLAWs, case study quizzes and articles will show you why nursing fundamentals like documentation, accountability, patient safety, confidentiality, and consent are important. You can also learn about specific legal risks for nurses working in areas such as obstetrics, the operating room, community and public health, independent practice, or as nurse practitioners.

What can't CNPS do for students?

Nursing students are not entitled to CNPS’ legal consultation services or financial assistance from CNPS.

When does one become eligible for CNPS protection and services?

After you have graduated and written the NCLEX-RN, you may become eligible for CNPS services providing you are and remain a member in good standing of your provincial/territorial professional association/college and this association/college is a member of CNPS; or if you are an individual beneficiary of CNPS.  CNPS protection is occurrence based, which means you need to be a member in good standing at the time of an occurrence/incident to receive assistance from CNPS.

CNPS' 10 member nursing associations/colleges include all provinces and territories in Canada, except Ontario and Quebec.

If you are licensed/ registered with the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) or the Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec (OIIQ), you may become a CNPS beneficiary by completing and submitting an individual application form. 

I am planning to take a course in the USA. Will I still be protected by CNPS?

If you will be doing any clinical practice as a student, it is prudent to determine how students are protected for professional negligence by the educational institution prior to registering. You may also wish to investigate whether there is any professional liability protection available to you in the jurisdiction in which you are studying, since you cannot control in which jurisdiction a lawsuit would be started.

To be eligible for CNPS protection in the event of a claim made while studying in the US, the lawsuit must be commenced in Canada; and you must be duly licensed/registered in a Canadian province/territory and be an active CNPS beneficiary at the time of the event. If you plan to work in the U.S. for a period of time at the end of the course, you will need to consider purchasing professional liability insurance in the U.S.

Who is liable when a nursing student is on a placement?

Nursing students on placement generally have liability protection through an agreement between the school of nursing and the facility where the student does a practicum. Your educational institution and/or the facility where you are on placement would generally be responsible for your legal defence costs.

Can a nursing student be sued?

Yes. Nursing students can and have been found negligent in their care of patients while on practicum.

In British Columbia, a judge allowed a patient, who had already initiated a lawsuit against a hospital and physicians, to add a nursing student, the student's supervisor and the student's university to the list of defendants. The patient had intended to sue the nursing staff by naming the hospital as a defendant, but later discovered that the hospital might claim it was not responsible for the student's actions, as the student was not a hospital employee.[1] At trial, the claims against all defendants were dismissed, and the patient was ordered to pay legal costs to the "hospital defendants" (which included the hospital, the student nurse, the student's supervisor and the student's nursing school)[2].

A student nurse in Nova Scotia was named in a lawsuit, where she used an improper intramuscular injection technique and permanently injured a patient. The student nurse was found negligent, and the hospital was found vicariously liable for the student's actions[3]. In another case, a nursing intern was assigned to care for a post-operative patient. The nursing intern did not sufficiently monitor the patient, and as a result, the patient tried to use his arm as a crutch to alleviate his own discomfort, and sustained ulnar nerve damage. Although the intern was not personally named as a defendant in the ensuing lawsuit, the judge found the hospital vicariously liable for the nursing intern's neglect and negligence[4].

Nursing students are accountable for their own actions, and must know and adhere to their own competencies and standards. Further information about the accountability of student nurses and their preceptors is available from the article Managing legal risks in preceptorships.

Why aren't students eligible for CNPS financial assistance?

CNPS' services are funded by 10 registered nurses' professional associations and colleges for the benefit of their registered members. Therefore, only Registered Nurses who are members in good standing with one of CNPS' member associations and colleges, or nurses who have paid to become individual beneficiaries, are eligible for financial assistance from CNPS.

If you are a post-basic student and are a member in good standing of one of CNPS' member associations or colleges, you would be eligible for CNPS protection and services.

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TECHNICAL QUESTIONS

How will I know that my application has been received and that my registration is in effect?

The CNPS will forward an e-mail confirmation once your application has been received, as well as a further e-mail confirmation once it has been successfully processed.  Please ensure that you have included the correct e-mail address on the application form.

I didn’t receive a confirmation from CNPS that my application was received. Why?

There may be a few reasons for why it was not received.  As a first measure, please check your Junk E-Mail folder.  You can either move or drag and drop the email to your inbox to be able to view the contents.  If the email is not in your email Inbox or Junk Mail folder, please contact the CNPS to confirm whether it has been received.

I didn’t receive a confirmation that my payment was received. Why?

There may be a few reasons for why it was not received.  As a first measure, please check your Junk E-Mail folder.  You can either move or drag and drop the email to your inbox to be able to view the contents.  If the email is not in your email Inbox or Junk Mail folder, please contact the CNPS to confirm whether it has been received.

I can’t seem to use the email button to send you my application. Why?

As a first measure, please verify all the fields in the form have been completed.  To use the email feature of the application form, you will need to use the free Adobe Reader application.  If you do not have access to Adobe, you can still print, complete and send the application to CNPS by fax or mail.

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[1] Cowherd v. Mission Memorial Hospital Foundation, [2001] B.C.J. No. 2088 (S.C.), online: QL

[2] Cowherd v. Mission Memorial Hospital Foundation, [2004] B.C.J. No. 1051 (S.C.), online: QL

[3] Roberts v. Cape Breton Regional Hospital (1997), 162 N.S.R. (2d) 342 (S.C.).

[4] Farrell v. Cant (1992), 104 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 9 (Nfld. S.C. (T.D.)

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