Council highlights for December 1, 2022
The 433rd Council meeting of the RCDSO was a virtual meeting held via Zoom on Thursday, December 1st, 2022. The meeting was also livestreamed; a video recording of the Council session will be available on the College’s YouTube channel.
RCDSO President Sandy Venditti and Registrar and CEO Dan Faulkner recently spoke at the annual meeting of the Ontario Dental Association. There, and at other events, Dr. Venditti spoke about issues facing the profession as a whole, as well as the collective responsibility for public protection. At Council, Dr. Venditti reflected on her two years as President. She noted significant progress in governance-focus and that Council meetings had become more effective. Discussions have been open, frank, forward thinking—and in particular focused on the public interest, the College’s legislated mandate.
To the departing members of Council, Dr. Venditti expressed her personal appreciation. She hoped that this would be a new beginning and encouraged them to embrace other opportunities that will come their way with the same vigor and enthusiasm they have brought to the RCDSO Council. She also noted her appreciation for staff for their work to ensure that Council operates effectively. Dr. Venditti concluded with an encouragement to vote in Council elections, closing on December 14th.
RCDSO Strategic Plan 2023-2025
Council was presented with an update on operational elements that support the Plan approved by Council at its September meeting. Deputy Registrar Andréa Foti outlined guiding principles of the Plan in addition to six priority projects, designed to achieve broad, transformational change.
The six priority, externally-facing projects are:
- College Standards
- Access to Care
- Service Experience
- Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
- Governance Review and Modernization
- Practice Models and Corporate Dentistry
The 2023-2025 strategic plan is available here.
Canada Dental Benefit
On the day of the launch of the interim Canada Dental Benefit, Lindy VanAmburg, Director General, Policy and Programs, Dental Care Task Force, Health Canada, presented an overview of the program to Council. The interim Canada Dental Benefit is a tax-free, up-front payment to provide financial support for eligible families to get oral health care for their children under 12. Ms. VanAmburg walked Council through the eligibility criteria as well as the application process. Information material for dentists is available here: Dropbox - Stakeholder Kit EN - Simplify your life and en français Dropbox - Stakeholder Kit FR - Simplify your life:
Registrar & CEO Update
Registrar & CEO Dan Faulkner updated Council on several items:
- The College launched the 2022 District election cycle in August. The deadline for voting is December 14th, 2022 at 2:00 pm.
- In October, the Government of Ontario announced new regulations that will change the registration process for all 26 health colleges. These included timelines for application decisions, requirement to use approved language proficiency testing; restrictions on the use of Canadian experience for registration; and requirements to develop emergency registration.
- Registration staff completed a CQI project this year, designed to improve the user experience with updates to the website and applicant portal. Application numbers in Q3 2022 are three times what they were in Q3 2021. Annual membership renewal opened on October 13th and closes on December 15th.
- Over 300 dentists registered for the third RCDSO Connect session held on October 27th. The focus was on newer dentists and the poll results from the session noted that experience in the first few years of practice was “not what I expected”. The session featured presentations on Recordkeeping and the Continuing Education program from senior College staff. The plan for next year is to have a session that will qualify for a CE point and a public session.
- The College continues to engage in active collaboration with the other oral health regulators. Currently the group is exploring common Indigenous education for Councils. The leadership of professional conduct departments held its first meeting in November to collaborate on investigation processes.
- The investigation backlog has been reduced by over 30% from January to November 15th. Timelines are also improving: by the end of Q3 2022, the ICRC had issued decisions on more investigations than in all of 2021.
- In October, several members of RCDSO staff presented at the Canadian Network of Agencies of Regulation (CNAR) a major regulatory conference in Prince Edward Island. Sessions were well-attended and well-received by the national and international regulators.
- The College issued two emails in November designed to begin a discussion with the profession and the broader stakeholder environment on the challenges being faced by patients covered by government-funded programs. Newer apps are screening out patients based on coverage; at the same time, there are emerging programs to cover more patients (the Canada Dental Benefit and the potential Ontario portable benefits program). While many dentists see patients regardless of coverage, there remain access challenges.
The Finance, Property and Administration (FPA) Committee annually sets out the budget principles. For the 2023 Operating and Capital Budgets, the Committee requested that the budget be in surplus, and be reasonable and achievable. In response to risks related to PLP, inflation and six consecutive years of deficits, the decision made by Council in September 2022 to raise fees will reduce the strain on the financial resources of the College.
Council discussed and approved the 2023 Operating and Capital Budgets, with planned surpluses for the next three years.
Access to Care/Patients on Government Programs
Council discussed at length two related issues that are fundamental to the public interest: the first was Access to Care; the second Patients on Government Programs.
Access to Care is a key priority for the College under the Strategic Plan 2023-25. Council reviewed the early work streams for this project including: stakeholder engagement on Access to Care; highlighting good practices in the community; and defining dentistry’s role in facilitating access. Council discussed the barriers to care beyond financial resources, which include physical disability, complexity of care, geographic barriers, as well as the challenge of human resources scarcity.
Council participated in a discussion on patients on government programs in the context of the expansion of such programs in Canada—and potentially, for temporary and contract workers, in Ontario. Staff highlighted issues raised by patients in finding dentists who accepted their coverage as well as dentists who complained that some of their colleagues were not accepting patients on government programs. Council acknowledged remuneration as a factor—an issue that the ODA has taken on—as well as the need for broad professional and stakeholder participation in how to improve access for eligible patients
Professional Liability Program
Council discussed two items in relation to the Professional Liability Program (PLP), which administers malpractice protection for members and former members of the College. The first item was in regard to deductibles.
- Council considered and approved an increase of the minimum individual deductible, for a first claim, from $2000 to $2500, effective January 1, 2023. The deductible is owed by a member when there is a settlement or when there are legal fees or expert opinions sought on a matter. Deductibles step up if there are multiple cases over an 84-month period. This increase, the first in many years brings the program in line with other provinces (except Quebec).
- Council also considered and approved a recommendation from the PLP Committee to simplify the criteria for waivers and reductions to deductibles. Waivers and reductions may be granted where there is member bankruptcy, member death, when the claim has no merit or on compassionate grounds.
The second matter before Council was about the program itself. The Audit Committee and the Finance, Property and Administration (FPA) Committee reviewed the program, its history, legislation, program 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 September 2023 Council meeting.
The next meeting of Council is scheduled for Thursday, January 17th, 2023. The meeting will be hybrid: in person at 150 King St. West, Toronto and also via Zoom.
(Meeting will be live-streamed.)