After a legal battle that dragged on for a decade and a half, Maple Ridge veterinarian Dr. Bhupinder Johar says he is finally vindicated.
The College of Veterinarians of B.C. has announced it will not pursue a judicial review of an October 2015 decision by the Human Rights Tribunal, which found Johar and 12 other South Asian veterinarians were subjected to discrimination by their professional association, which was then called the B.C. Veterinary Medical Association.
“It is satisfaction for us. We had a 15-year-long battle,” said Johar. “We had to fight to get justice.”
The Indo-Canadian vets had been offering discounted veterinary services – spaying and neutering for $50 to $60, and were subjected to systemic discrimination by their professional association between 2002 and 2006, the Human Rights Tribunal found.
The victims were subjected to more scrutiny that other vets, faced unscheduled inspections while other vets did not, and were required to take rigorous language proficiency tests, which were more difficult than those of other professional groups, and were “largely unattainable,” according to tribunal member Judy Parrack.
“Race-based stereotypes played a role in BCVMA’s dealings with the complainants, including negative generalized views about the credibility and ethics of Indo-Canadians in relation to their veterinary practices. Persons of influence in the BCVMA held such views, and the BCVMA knew this or ought reasonably to have known this, but largely ignored and condoned the expression of such views,” wrote Parrack.
Johar won approximately $30,000 in the case.
More than that, he said, the complainants in the case exposed a system that was “rotten.”
“In Canada, we don’t expect such things,” he said.
“The stigma of being a lesser or inferior doctor has been lifted.”
Johar said he came to Canada in 1999 as a qualified veterinarian, trained in India. Over a four-year period, he passed the exams that would allow him to practise in B.C., including an eight-hour computerized exam and several practical exams. He came to Maple Ridge in 2003.
The following apology relating to the findings in the Human Rights Tribunal decision is posted on the CVBC website:
“In the spirit of moving forward and acknowledging the findings of discrimination made by the Human Rights Tribunal in Brar and others v. B.C. Veterinary Medical Association and others, the College accepts the findings of discrimination against Indo-Canadian veterinarians and apologizes to all of the complainants for the loss of dignity, pain and suffering caused by the College’s conduct, including Dr. Hakam Bhullar and his family, who suffered professional and personal distress by the College’s removal of his license in December 2009. The College acknowledges its past mistakes in the standards, inspection and discipline arenas. The College is now working to improve its processes and foster positive, constructive and forward-looking relationships with the complainants and all registrants.”