What is the Resolution Program (RP) 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. The types of complaints eligible for the RP are considered low-risk by the College. 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 RP?
You and the complainant control what resolution you reach. Complainants and dentists alike find it 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 mediation process. 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 the complaint is eligible for the RP, College staff will contact first the complainant, then you, to find out whether there is interest in participating in the RP. If you and the complainant both consent, 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 complainant will also be asked for information about their goals. The College may request 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 on online (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 complainant to try to help resolve the complaint).
The mediator will review the information collected and work with you and the complainant to help you reach a resolution.
If you and the complainant can reach a resolution, the Registrar must review the proposed 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 the complainant’s concerns will be investigated.
What types of resolutions are possible?
You and the complainant have an opportunity to clarify misunderstandings that may have occurred.
In some cases, there may be an acknowledgment of the complainant’s concerns, an apology to the complainant, or an offer to do things differently in the future. Where the mediation identifies an area that needs improvement, you may offer to complete some education or a self-reflection paper to improve your practice. You may agree to make changes to your procedures and policies and share the information with your staff. The complainant could also learn that you 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 contact the complainant by telephone to provide them with information regarding the RP process. If they consent to participate, we send them a letter and forms to sign.
- We will formally notify you of the complaint. College staff will provide you with a copy of the complaint and information regarding the RP process, request a copy of the complainant’s relevant patient records, and give you forms to complete if you consent 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 complainant with the relevant materials in advance of the meeting.
- Attend the mediation. The mediation process is an opportunity to respectfully and openly communicate about the complaint and to work towards a resolution. You and the complainant are asked to come to the mediation prepared to actively listen, be flexible and without a predetermined mindset.
- Resolution. If you and the complainant reach a resolution during the mediation, a resolution will be drafted for you and the complainant to sign.
- Approval of agreement. The Registrar will review the resolution and decide whether or not to adopt the agreement. 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 complainant 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 complainant can withdraw consent to participate in the RP during the resolution process. If you or the complainant withdraw 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, you are 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.
You can access the Code here.