Access to Care Initiatives

Improving patient access to oral health care has been a priority for the College for many years. Our commitment to supporting patients’ overall health and wellbeing led to the inclusion of strategic projects focused on Access to Care in our 2020-2023 and 2023-2025 strategic plans.  

Click on the timeline below to learn more about the concrete actions and outcomes of our work on Access to Care since 2017. 

This strategic project includes a broad range of activities that fall under four key areas: 

  • Collect, analyze and report Access to Care data obtained via the College’s Annual Renewal Questionnaire
  • Explore other sources of data 
Information sharing and education 
  • Implement a Council Guest Speaker Series on Access to Care related topics 
  • Update Access to Care information on the College’s website  
  • Raise awareness of the Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) program for First Nations and Inuit and encourage dentist to sign up for the program
  • Enhance Continuing Education (CE) content and the points framework for Access to Care related activities  
Professional Expectations 
  • Develop two new College resources to set out expectations for dentists regarding accepting new patients and the values, principles and duties of the profession (i.e., professionalism guide) 
Collaboration and Engagement 
  • Plan a broad external consultation and additional engagement activities to support the development of professional expectations 

Key achievements to date 

  • Reported on the 2022 Annual Renewal Questionnaire data related to Access to Care.To learn more, read the Annual Renewal Questionnaire Report: 2023 Access to Care Key Findings.
  • Identified and scheduled speakers to present on Access to Care at Council meetings.
  • Redesigned our Access to Care web page to be user-friendly (e.g., plain language, easy navigation).
  • Updated our low-cost and specialized clinic list available on our website.
  • Conducted initial research to inform the development of the professional expectations. 

Our 2020-2023 Strategic Plan focused on information gathering and coordination and engagement with interested parties.  

Key outcomes 

  • Hosted two meetings with representatives from academia, faculties of dentistry, the ODA, public health dentistry and patient advocacy groups. Discussions focused on system level considerations, health-equity approaches and recommendations to advance access. Click here to view a summary of these meetings.
  • Created a dedicated Access to Care webpage which includes information for patients on low-cost and specialized dental clinics by geographic region.
  • Managed public concerns and complaints about refusal to treat patients on public programs
  • Addressed new application technology that might impede patient access (read these communications to registrants: Checking the fine print... more detail; New patients acquisition? Read the fine print... ).
  • Engaged with the profession about what to expect of the ethical dentist. 

The RCDSO’s work on Access to Care focused on information gathering and coordination and engagement with interested parties. 

Key outcomes 

  • We held an Access to Care Symposium in 2019 with multiple system partners (including patients, community/patient advocacy organizations, dentists, oral health care workers and academics) to discuss a wide range of topics related to Access to Care and solutions to minimize barriers. Further information on the symposium and the outcomes can be found here and the panelists' presentations are available here. 
  • Implementation of an internal staff working group to conduct research on Access to Care, including a scan of what system partners are doing to address barriers to accessing oral health care. 
  • Conducted a survey to understand the extent to which patients using social assistance programs experience barriers to accessing oral health care.