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Denman doctor suspended for allegedly signing false vaccine, mask exemptions

Dr. Stephen Malthouse has spoken at rallies against public health measures and allegedly signed fake vaccine and mask exemptions.
A doctor wears a stethoscope around his neck as he tends to patients in his office in Illinois on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia says it has suspended a doctor from practising while it completes an investigation into allegations that he sidestepped COVID-19 public health orders. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Jeff Roberson

Denman Island is deeply divided over the suspension of a doctor who allegedly signed vaccine and mask exemptions that were false.

On Thursday, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. suspended Dr. Stephen Craig Malthouse while it investigates.

The college said an inquiry panel is also considering evidence that Malthouse provided diagnoses and courses of action that were potentially harmful to his patients and that he used his status as a registrant of the ­college to try to circumvent COVID-19 public health orders.

Because of the seriousness of the allegations, the panel concluded there would be “a real risk of harm to the public” if Malthouse continued to practise without restriction.

“The panel’s assessment was that restrictions on Dr. Malthouse’s practice would not be sufficient to protect the public from the concerns raised in this case,” the college says in a public notice.

In October 2020, Malthouse wrote an open letter to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry alleging masks are “useless and even harmful” against COVID-19 and claimed people were “rarely” becoming ill from the virus.

He has spoken at rallies against public health measures and appeared in a video posted by Liberty Coalition Canada alongside other B.C. and Ontario doctors who oppose measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Malthouse declined to comment when contacted by the Times Colonist, but when the college warned doctors they could be penalized for contradicting COVID-19 public health guidance he urged the regulator to discuss practitioners’ questions with them. “We really need to have scientific debate about these topics rather than just having rules and regulations and attempts just to make doctors follow the policy alone,” Malthouse told The Canadian Press in May 2021.

Malthouse’s suspension has not only left the 1,500-member Denman community scrambling for another doctor, it has created a lot of tension, said one Denman Island resident who requested anonymity, calling it a touchy situation that has left people not talking to each other.

“It just exacerbates the situation with COVID in general because we are such a small community. We’re like a huge family because we know each other and we’re in close proximity,” he said

“If this was happening in Victoria, there wouldn’t be the same implications. But we know this person, we know his wife.”

Malthouse, who practises both naturopathic and western medicine, was controversial even before COVID, said the resident. The doctor made house calls and was seen by some to have a kind bedside manner, he said, but others were skeptical of his alternative medicine.

A group of Denman physicians wrote a letter published in the Islands GrapeVine, a weekly newsletter, denouncing Malthouse for spreading false information about COVID.

The other doctors on the island were trying to promote public health orders and Malthouse, with his credentials as a physician, was countermanding the public health order, said the resident.

“It undermines the public health order itself. That’s really difficult. It’s a tough one on Denman. Dr. Malthouse has a following here. He’s well-respected among the people who do follow him.”

The college said its investigation will take as long as necessary to gather and review evidence. It will conclude when the inquiry panel renders a decision.

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