Did Canada or the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario -- a Canadian professional medical association -- "mandate psychiatric medication for those that refuse mRNA injections or any kind of vaccination"? No, that's not true: The official websites of the governments of Canada and the province of Ontario don't mention anything similar as of November 22, 2022. The spokesperson for the College told Lead Stories that "the College does not set diagnostic criteria for mental health disorders" and clarified that its guidance referred to a particular fear of needles recognized as a phobia.
The claim appeared in a tweet on November 19, 2022 (archived here). It said:
Holy Shit.... Canada is going to mandate psychiatric medication for those that refuse mRNA injections or any kind of vaccination.
Here is what the entry looked like on Twitter at the time of writing:
(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Tue Nov 22 18:50:20 2022 UTC)
The tweet contained a video fragment of an interview with William Makis, a nuclear medicine radiologist and oncologist. He said the following at the 0:14 mark:
So this has come out recently out of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. The College sent out a letter, or a memo, to all the doctors in Ontario, suggesting to them -- now so far, they're not mandating it -- they're just suggesting it -- that any of their unvaccinated patients that they should consider that they have a mental problem and that they should be put on psychiatric medication.
At the 0:50 mark, Makis continued:
If they're suggesting that people who wish to have bodily autonomy and don't want an experimental vaccine, that there may be something mentally wrong with them.
Unlike the tweet, the video clearly says there is no mandate for any kind of medication for the unvaccinated in Canada.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) is a body that issues recommendations for medical professionals and investigates complaints against doctors. Any physician who wants to practice in this province of Canada is required to be a member of the CPSO.
On November 22, 2022, CPSO guidance said:
It is also important that physicians work with their patients to manage anxieties related to the vaccine and not enable avoidance behaviour. For example, for extreme fear of needles (trypanophobia) or other cases of serious concern, responsible use of prescription medications and/or referral to psychotherapy may be available options. Overall, physicians have a responsibility to allow their patients to be properly informed about vaccines and not have those anxieties empowered by an exemption.
The paragraph did not state that either medication or psychotherapy was "mandated" for the unvaccinated.
According to the archived versions of the page, it was changed sometime between September 8, 2022 and October 5, 2022. The earlier version of the paragraph that had been on the website at least since January 20, 2022, did not discuss fear of needles:
It is also important that physicians work with their patients to manage anxieties related to the vaccine and not enable avoidance behaviour. In cases of serious concern, responsible use of prescription medications and/or referral to psychotherapy are available options. Overall, physicians have a responsibility to allow their patients to be properly informed about vaccines and not have those anxieties empowered by an exemption.
Shae Greenfield, senior communications advisor at the CPSO, emailed Lead Stories on November 22, 2022, that "Dr. Makis is not a member of our College, nor has he had any involvement with our College that I am aware of."
Greenfield shared the College's statement saying:
... our guidance was being grossly misinterpreted and was adding to the tidal wave of disinformation that has been circulating on social media for the past two and half years
According to the statement, the CPSO clarified the language of the guidance specifically to avoid misinterpretation.
Greenfield pointed out that the current version of the page brings up a particular condition:
...[the] except from our guidance to physicians refers specifically to trypanophobia, which is a disorder recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition, in which (among the potential symptoms) a patient may faint at the mere thought of a needle.
The College does not set diagnostic criteria for mental health disorders, of course, and even if that weren't the case, there are laws (in addition to College policies) that would prohibit physicians from administering drugs to patients without their consent.
As of this writing, the website of the Ontario government does not say anything about involuntary counseling or mandatory administration of any medication to the unvaccinated. The only page about psychotropic drugs that showed in the search results discussed the importance of monitoring side effects in children diagnosed with a mental health condition requiring medication. It does not mention a person's vaccine status at all.
By November 22, 2022, Canada had relaxed its COVID-19 regulations by lifting vaccine mandates for both domestic populations and international travelers.
Other Lead Stories fact checks about COVID-19 can be found here.