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The cost to the public for dental complaints investigation information
college of dental surgeons of bc

The College of Dental Surgeons Of British Columbia is the regulatory body appointed by the provincial government to regulate the dental profession, license dentists and dental assistants and investigate public complaints about its membership which consist of dentists and dental assistants. The College is not an educational institution as the name 'College' would imply: The College is a registered corporation.

According to the dental laws of the province, it is the duty of the College at all times:

    (a) to serve and protect the public, and
    (b) to exercise its powers and discharge its responsibilities under all enactments in the public interest.
Three requests were made to the College by an individual residing in British Columbia (who is also a dental patient) under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA). The requests pertained to the College's investigative activities as a result of written public complaints - in particular, the requests for information were intended to reveal the general outcomes of those investigations.

The objective was to
    1. Determine the level of transparency and cooperation that the requests were met with.
    2. Determine whether the costs associated with simple requests would be within an ordinary person's range of income (ie. reasonable)
    3. Determine the validity of the College's responses

Details of the requests and the College's responses are below:

** Records are defined by FOIPPA as "any thing on which information is recorded"
*** Registrants is the name given by the College when refering to a member (dentist or dental assistant)

Date Of Request Information Requested Estimated Cost from College Comments/other
March 15, 2005 To voluntarily provide the number of decisions which were made by the College [...] to "take no action" in response to public complaint investigations for the fiscal year 2003-2004 $122.50 The College replied that it "does not have a record in its custody or control which sets out the information. The College would have to create a record and it will take some time and effort to do so."
Evaluation: The requestor wanted to know how many of the complaints received from dental patients by the College in the fiscal year 2003-04 were, in effect, dismissed. The College's response suggests that it would have to create the information ("record") on a year which had already passed and during which the investigations had been completed. The College, in its reply, may be indicating that it simply does not want to provide the public with how many of the complaints the investigator(s) dismissed, or took no action on, without payment.

Date Of Request Information Requested Estimated Cost from College Comments/other
April 22, 2005 All releasable information pertaining to the College's Mutual Agreements and Undertakings (MAUS) with the Registrants that the College has investigated for the fiscal year 2003-2004, a total of 21 MAUS. $1,167.50 "MAUS were entered into with registrants who have been the subject of a complaint investigation which did not warrant an Inquiry Hearing and thus which did not result in any finding against the dentists in question." June 10, 2005, H. Laing, Registrar.
Evaluation: If the College did not have "any finding against the dentists in question", why did the College enter into MAUS with those dentists? If the College maintained that there had been no wrongdoing, as the dental patients who had submitted written complaints claimed there had been, why would MAUS be required with those dentists? Could there have been a minor or major breach of law? Due to the high cost of obtaining the releasable information, the requestor did not pursue the information.

Date Of Request Information Requested Estimated Cost from College Comments/other
June 2, 2005 The names of registrants whom the College did not find to be in contravention of the Dentists Act or Rules as a result of an investigation by the College in the period 2000 to 2005 $2,094.75 The College noted that any response would not name individual registrants although the registrants had been cleared of any wrongdoing by the College.
Evaluation: The College stated that it would not provide the names and that was the request made by the requestor. The College would provide the number of members who had not been in contravention of provincial dental laws as a result of a written public complaint for the five year period for the sum of $2,094.75

The total cost invoiced by the College for the three requests for information above was $3,384.75

The requestor wrote a letter to the (former) College Registrar, Heather Laing, asking to be excused from paying all or part of the fees calculated by the College. The Registrar, in a letter dated June 10, 2005 replied that she had "decided not to waive the fees".

Due to the cost factor, none of the information was obtained by the requestor. The information has not been made available to the public gratis.
college of dental surgeons of bc college of dental surgeons of bc

Update Letter to the BC Premier and Health Minister

British Columbians are also urged to email the following letter in support of equal public representation on all the committees and the Council of the College Of Dental Surgeons Of BC
(changes can made to the text):

Full Name:
My E-mail: 
Locale I live in:
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More on the College Of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia
The BC Health Professions Act (and why you should care)  ·  The cost to the public for dental complaints investigation information  · 
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