What is the Resolution Program and when is it available?
The College must address all complaints it receives about dental care.
The law that governs the College allows it to resolve select complaints using a Resolution Program (RP) as an alternative to the formal investigation process. Several factors are assessed when determining whether the risk of a complaint is appropriate for the RP.
If your complaint is eligible, it can proceed to the RP if you, the dentist, and the College’s Registrar agree to the process.
Why use the Resolution Program?
You and the dentist control the resolution you reach. Complainants and dentists alike find it to be a more satisfactory outcome because they are involved in the decision-making. In most cases, a resolution is reached.
It is free: The College pays for the costs of the mediator. However, your costs of participating in the mediation (for example, internet service, travel, or time off work) are not covered by the College.
Mediation is often quicker than an investigation.
Details about the Resolution Program
If your complaint is eligible for the RP, College staff will contact you to explore your interest in participating in the RP. If you agree, College staff will then contact the dentist who is the subject of the complaint to ask if they agree to participate in the RP. If everyone agrees to it, the Registrar reviews the complaint to verify that it is in the public interest to be resolved. If so, the Registrar will formally refer the complaint for resolution.
The College will ask you to provide information outlining your goals for the mediation. The dentist will also be asked for information about their goals. The College may obtain relevant dental records to assist in the process.
The College staff will schedule the mediation. A trained facilitator/mediator will facilitate the mediation which will be held by telephone or on Zoom. It is usually scheduled for two hours. Some mediations can also take place over a few days by shuttle mediation (where the mediator shuttles between you and the dentist to try to help resolve the complaint).
The mediator will review the information collected and work with you and the dentist to help you reach a resolution.
If you and the dentist can reach a resolution, the Registrar must review the resolution to verify that it is in the public interest. Most resolutions are approved. If approved, the complaint is closed. If the resolution is not approved, the College will investigate the complaint.
Although rare, the College occasionally finds information mid-process that makes the complaint unsuitable for the RP. If this happens, College staff will let you know and your complaint will be investigated.
What types of resolutions are possible?
You and the dentist have an opportunity to clarify misunderstandings that may have occurred.
In some cases, there may be an acknowledgment of your concerns, an apology from the dentist, or an offer to do things differently in the future. Where the mediation identifies an area that needs improvement, the dentist may offer to complete some education or a self-reflection paper to improve their practice. The dentist may agree to make changes to their procedures and policies and share the information with their staff. You could also learn that the dentist acted appropriately in the circumstances and acknowledge that no further action is required.
In a few cases, a small financial remedy (like a waiver or a refund of fees) may be available.
What are the main steps in the Resolution Program process?
- We will contact you by telephone to provide you with information regarding the RP process and canvass your interest in participating. If you consent to participate, will send you a letter and ask you to sign forms.
- We will notify the dentist of the complaint. College staff will provide the dentist with a copy of your complaint, request a copy of your relevant patient records, and give them forms to complete in order to participate in the process.
- Referral to the RP. The matter goes to the Registrar for their review and approval to move forward with the RP process.
- College staff will schedule a mediation meeting and provide you and the dentist with the relevant materials in advance of the meeting.
- Attend the mediation. The mediation is an opportunity to respectfully and openly communicate about the complaint and to work towards a resolution. You and the dentist are asked to come to the mediation prepared to actively listen, be flexible and without a predetermined mindset.
- Resolution. If you and the dentist reach a resolution during the mediation, a resolution will be drafted for you and the dentist to review and sign.
- Approval of resolution. The Registrar will read the resolution and decide whether or not to adopt it. Resolutions are usually adopted.
Your role in the RP process
For the RP to work, you need to:
- Consent to participate in the process
- Complete any requested forms and provide information
- Actively engage in the mediation
- Respond in a timely way to requests from College staff or the mediator
The RP is time limited. Under the law, you and the dentist have only 60 days from the date the Registrar approves the matter into the RP to resolve the case. The Registrar may extend the timeline to a maximum of 120 days if the Registrar thinks it is in the public interest to do so.
If the deadline is passed, the RP process must end, and the College will investigate the complaint.
At any time, you or the dentist can withdraw consent to participate in the RP during the resolution process. If you or the dentist withdraws consent, the resolution process ends, and the complaint will be investigated by the College.
The RP is not about assigning blame
The RP process is designed to protect the public by improving the practice of dentistry. It is not intended to punish or discipline dentists. By taking part in the RP, a dentist is not admitting any wrongdoing.
Accessibility and Accommodation
If you would like to have an accommodation under the Ontario Human Rights Code (“Code”), please speak with the staff person assigned to your case about how we can assist you. You may need to provide some paperwork to support your request.