These women became the brave faces following a series of Toronto Star stories that shed light on the secrecy surrounding the patient complaints system in Ontario.
When the Star published one story in March 2001 of seven women who had separately launched complaints and lawsuits against a Pickering obstetrician/gynecologist, the reporters were shocked by the response. The phones didn’t stop ringing for weeks as dozens more women accused Dr. Errol Wai-Ping of bungled hysterectomies, deliveries and routine gynecological procedures dating back years. Most shocking, each woman thought she was the only one harmed by his care.
The reporters on the story, swamped with the task of recording the horror stories, had no time to organize photographs. So after procuring a list of names and numbers, Faught started calling. In all, 44 women were contacted and 34 showed up at a public park next to Dr. Wai-Ping’s office. In total, 29 took part in the shoot; the remainder showed up just for comfort.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario had received complaints about Wai-Ping as far back as 1994, but it was only after a succession of stories—and this photograph—that the doctors’ regulatory body took action.
Dr. Wai-Ping lost his Ontario medical license in 2004 after a lengthy hearing. In the end, 225 women joined a class-action lawsuit against him. In 2006, Wai-Ping and his lawyers settled out of court.
PhotoSensitive is a non-profit collective of photographers committed to using black-and-white photography to address social issues. PhotoSensitive’s new exhibition, Picture Change, is a Toronto-based show dedicated to highlighting the ways that photography makes a difference in the world by provoking action, reflection, or even a change in a policy or law.