Table of Contents
- What is happening with PLP?
- Why was the Task Force struck in the first place?
- What did the Task Force recommend?
- What did Council decide?
- When will we hear more?
- The program has been working well for 50 years, why change now?
- What will new malpractice protection cost for dentists? And what coverage minimum amount will be required?
- What will happen with the current annual membership fee amount?
- When would these changes become effective?
- How long is the RCDSO PLP coverage valid upon the closure of the program?
- I have a PLP case. How does this impact me?
- I have further questions about PLP, who can I contact?
What is happening with PLP?
The Professional Liability Program (PLP) has been providing assistance to Ontario dentists for over 50 years. During that time, numerous staff and Council members have been dedicated to the promotion of patient safety and responsible dentistry.
In 2022, the Audit Committee and the Finance, Property and Administration (FPA) Committee reviewed the PLP program, its history, legislation, and financial structure, and assessed other comparable programs in Canada. As a result, Council established a PLP Expert Review Task Force to do a thorough review of the PLP program, outline any risks and recommend options to mitigate these risks on or before the September 2023 Council meeting.
The Expert Review Task Force, composed of liability and regulatory experts (including former Council members) met from February to July of 2023 and developed a report for review by the (now) Finance, Audit and Risk (FAR) Committee. After that review, the report findings and FAR’s analysis were presented to Council on September 21st for discussion and deliberation.
Why was the Task Force struck in the first place?
Several risks have been identified with PLP, foremost among them are reputational, regulatory and financial risks.
RCDSO is one of the few health regulatory Colleges in Canada that directly operates an in-house liability program.
Over the past several years, negative media stories, changing expectations of professional regulation, and the RCDSO’s commitment to act in the public interest have caused RCDSO to consider the benefits, risks and appropriateness of this non-legislated program as an operational department of the College.
One of the College’s primary regulatory responsibilities is to hold dentists accountable for conduct and practice issues; PLP serves as the primary malpractice protection provider for those same dentists. While the College strives to use a ‘firewall’ between PLP and our regulatory programs, this divergence in mandate and function is confusing to both the public and dentists and raises questions about how we can effectively serve both mandates.
The College is also expected to be a responsible steward of its financial resources in achieving its statutory objectives and regulatory mandate. The direct operation of PLP has presented some challenges to the RCDSO’s financial position including the completion of an adequate non-PLP operating reserve.
What did the Task Force recommend?
The Task Force Report presented a number of options with benefits and risks to help Council determine the best option for RCDSO.
The Task Force identified three options:
- Status Quo: RCDSO retains the current structure of PLP with minor modifications that could mitigate risk.
- Subsidiary: RCDSO establishes a subsidiary corporation This would create structural separation of mandate and finances, while RCDSO would retain ownership of the program.
- Divest: RCDSO stops directly offering its liability protection program over time and moves to transfer, sell or end the program
This report provided Council with considerable information to help make this decision.
What did Council decide?
Council is satisfied that the program operates effectively and efficiently today. Council unanimously agreed that the College should not continue to directly operate PLP as it is currently structured.
After considerable discussion and debate, Council directed staff to explore the option of divesting from direct ownership and operation of PLP.
The College will continue to require dentists to maintain adequate liability protection, which is consistent with other Ontario health Colleges and the expectations of the RHPA.
With Council’s direction, RCDSO staff will develop an implementation plan, with deliverables and timelines. This will include communication and consultation with all staff, the profession and stakeholders. Staff will provide Council with a progress report on this work at the December 7th Council meeting.
Council deliberations are viewable here.
When will we hear more?
RCDSO will report on progress at the next Council meeting on December 7th. We will continue to update the public, registrants and stakeholders as we progress.
There will be an opportunity to provide input, so please watch this page.
The program has been working well for 50 years, why change now?
There are a number of environmental changes, including public expectations that have changed since PLP was first established.
If an unexpected major financial event were to occur (one that exceeds the current $22 million reserve fund plus the $20 million available in reinsurance), the RCDSO would be required to draw from its regulatory reserves or to impose a fee to the profession.
What will new malpractice protection cost for dentists? And what coverage minimum amount will be required?
Consistent with other Ontario health Colleges, RCDSO will always mandate minimum liability protection, regardless of the program or organization that delivers it.
It is too early in the decision-making process for the RCDSO Council to determine liability minimums. Third party malpractice protection is available in the market today.
What will happen with the current annual membership fee amount?
Once a direction is determined, additional analysis and review will be needed to assess the impact on the annual membership fee.
When would these changes become effective?
Change to this long-standing program of professional liability will take time. It is too early to determine when the RCDSO control of the program would end. The profession will be provided with a minimum of 12 months’ notice of any changes to the program that will require alternative coverage.
How long is the RCDSO PLP coverage valid upon the closure of the program?
This level of detail is too early to determine at this stage. If the program is wound up, there would be extensive notification.
I have a PLP case. How does this impact me?
Dentists should carry on as per usual. Please keep calling PLP if you need to and our staff will continue to assist you. New and existing PLP cases will be processed as they always have been. Change to this long-standing program of professional liability will take years, not months. Once a direction is determined, additional information will be provided to registrants who have an active PLP case.
I have further questions about PLP, who can I contact?
For general information, please contact the RCDSO’s Practice Advisory Service by email at email@example.com or call 416-961-6555 or toll-free 1-800-565-4591.
Members of the RCDSO should continue to contact PLP directly for assistance with claims or potential claims.