B.C. College of Veterinarians says sorry to 13 Indo-Canadian members
College also drops request for judicial review of B.C. Human Rights ruling of systemic discrimination
The College of Veterinarians of British Columbia has dropped its quest for a judicial review of a B.C. Human Rights Tribunal ruling that found it had discriminated against a group of Indo-Canadian veterinarians.
The professional organization has also issued an apology to the 13 men acknowledging "its past mistakes in the standards, inspection and discipline arenas."
"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 licence in December 2009."
"Justice is served," said Bhullar. "At least the college, after 13 years, they apologized. I'm happy, I accept the apology and I have to move forward."
Claims of racial bias upheld
Bhullar is the Vancouver veterinarian who had his animal medicine licence revoked in 2009 after an inquiry by the College found he provided care "far below the skill expected of a competent practitioner."
He successfully disputed the results of the inquiry in B.C. Supreme Court in 2011.
In 2015 the B.C. Human Right Tribunal found that Bhullar and 12 other Indo-Canadian vets' claims that the College was racially biased were warranted, stating that the regulatory body "engaged in systemic discrimination."
The 13 vets were all born and trained in India or Pakistan, and had been offering low-cost services in their B.C. practices. They claimed they were subjected to more scrutiny and tougher accreditations requirements than other vets.
Bhullar says it cost $1.7 million to fight the college, which operates under the Ministry of Agriculture. He says part of the victory is forcing the college to become more transparent in how it operates.
"We wanted to make sure in the future that the hell we and our families went through, that nobody has to go through the same process.," he said. "Basically, everything will have to be transparent. That we achieved."