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'Real risk of harm': B.C. doctor suspended from practice amid allegations of fake mask, vaccine exemption forms

A family doctor has been barred from practising in British Columbia amid allegations of an "attempt to circumvent public health orders," according to the provincial College of Physicians and Surgeons.

An inquiry committee said in a public notification this week that Dr. Stephen Craig Malthouse is suspended from practising medicine for the time being. 

The suspension, which came into effect on March 24 and was announced by the college Monday, follows allegations that the Denman Island doctor signed vaccine and mask exemption forms despite knowing they included false statements.

The panel behind the interim order said evidence also suggests he may have "stated medical conclusions absent any objective medical evidence, and provided diagnoses and courses of action potentially harmful to patients."

He is also alleged to have used his position to "attempt to circumvent public health orders," the notification of his suspension says.

The allegations have not been proven, and the investigation is ongoing, but the panel said that the allegations were serious enough to support a suspension while the case is examined further.

Specifically, the panel said, "There would be a real risk of harm to the public if Dr. Malthouse was permitted to continue to practise without restriction."

According to the college, Malthouse gave no response to the allegations, prompting its panel to believe there was a "high likelihood the conduct would be repeated," if lesser interim measures were imposed.

Although Malthouse has not responded to the college about the allegations, he was behind an open letter to B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer in October 2020 criticizing Dr. Bonnie Henry's response to the pandemic as illogical, harmful and contradictory to current research.

In the letter, he writes masks have been "proven useless and even harmful" and calls out the "collateral damage" of her policies, including economic disruption and psychological impacts.

The letter written about seven months into what has been a two-year pandemic asks her to tell the public "the pandemic is over, and no second wave is coming."

Malthouse is also part of a group calling itself Professionals Against Lockdowns, which in March of last year published a news release calling for "a more ethical response to COVID-19 that does not include harmful lockdowns or stay-at-home orders, which recklessly violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms."

A notice about the group described its aim as "to combat industry censorship by providing clear, evidence-based, scientific research that will educate and empower the public."

The group is supported by the Liberty Coalition of Canada, which is behind a video posted online in May 2021 advising against the vaccination of children for COVID-19. 

Malthouse is featured in this video saying the risk of COVID-19 policies outweigh the benefits, and urging parents to refuse to put masks on their children.

"If your children's school enforces damaging mask and social distancing policies, then consider home schooling," he says.

"Make your voice heard and demand change. Write, tweet and speak to your school principal and trustees, politicians, community leaders and sports organizations. Other parents will stand up with you."

CTV News has reached out to the doctor for comment.

Speaking to media Tuesday about changing mask rules in the province, the health minister said all health measures in B.C. are evidence-based, and called Henry's approach "consistently balanced and thoughtful."

Adrian Dix said any decisions made follow significant consideration of the evidence. He spoke after criticism from the provincial human rights commissioner that the lifting of B.C.'s mask mandate two weeks ago was "hasty." 

He said what's changed is not the recommendation – and in his position, with all the information available, he will continue to wear a mask indoors – but whether it's required legally.

Health officials including himself and Henry still encourage the wearing of masks.

Asked specifically about Malthouse by CTV News, Dix said, "That behaviour is of course, and I think anyone can see that, completely inappropriate. When people engage in such behaviour, especially as a health professional but regardless of who they are, there are consequences to that."

He said he thinks the action taken is exactly how these types of situations should proceed and that "accountability is necessary and I'm glad it's been applied."

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Bhinder Sajan in Victoria Top Stories

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