Investigating Your Complaint

Who reviews and makes decisions on complaints?

That’s the responsibility of the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC), which includes members of the public and Registered Dental Hygienists.

A CDHO staff member (Case Manager) or Investigator looks into your complaint on behalf of the ICRC. They remain impartial. You may ask them questions about the investigation process, but they cannot provide their opinion of the complaint or offer advice.

During the investigation, you may be contacted to clarify your concerns or to sign an authorization form to assist in obtaining your oral health records. The Case Manager/Investigator may obtain other relevant documents or interview witnesses to assist the ICRC in reviewing your complaint.

Any documentation arising from ICRC investigations cannot be used in separate civil proceedings against the Registered Dental Hygienist.

The Registered Dental Hygienist will have 30 days to respond to your complaint. You will get a copy of the response and can send further comments or information to CDHO.

Are all complaints investigated?

Yes, except for the small percentage that the ICRC can decline to (by law) if it considers the complaint to be frivolous, vexatious (insufficient grounds, done to cause annoyance), made in bad faith, moot or otherwise an abuse of process. Before any decision, both you and the Registered Dental Hygienist have the right to make submissions to the ICRC.

You may also request to withdraw your complaint. However, CDHO’s Registrar may still choose to continue the investigation if that is in the public interest. If the Registrar continues the investigation, you will be kept informed.

How long will investigations take?

The ICRC aims to complete its investigation, and issue its decision and reasons, within 150 days. If it takes longer, the ICRC must notify you and the Registered Dental Hygienist, and provide details on the expected date of the decision.

What can the ICRC do about my complaint?

The ICRC assesses whether the Registered Dental Hygienist’s practice and conduct has met the standards of the profession, and may:

  • Refer allegations of professional misconduct or incompetence to the Discipline Committee for a formal hearing.
  • Investigate whether the Registered Dental Hygienist is suffering from a physical or mental incapacity that might impact their ability to practise safely.
  • Require the Registered Dental Hygienist to appear before the ICRC to be cautioned about their practice or conduct.
  • Take other action it considers appropriate, consistent with the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA), such as:
    • Enter into an undertaking (or agreement) that the Registered Dental Hygienist must abide by.
    • Require the Registered Dental Hygienist to complete a Specified Continuing Education or Remediation Program (SCERP) to improve their knowledge, skills, judgment and/or conduct.
    • Recommend that the Registered Dental Hygienist take other steps to improve knowledge, skills, judgment and/or conduct.
    • Provide guidance to the Registered Dental Hygienist.
  • Take no further action.

The ICRC decides on an outcome based on a number of factors, including the seriousness of the alleged conduct and the potential risk such conduct may pose. To help it assess what’s appropriate, the ICRC uses the Risk Assessment and Decision-Making Tool.

How will I know the outcome?

Once there’s a decision, you and the Registered Dental Hygienist will be notified of the outcome and reasons for it in writing, unless the matter has been referred to the Discipline Committee or for incapacity proceedings.

On the “Find a Registered Dental Hygienist” (public register), CDHO will publish:

  • referrals to the Discipline Committee (and details regarding the disciplinary hearing process);
  • cautions of a Registered Dental Hygienist;
  • requirements of the Registered Dental Hygienist to complete a SCERP; and
  • any undertakings entered into by the Registered Dental Hygienist.

As a complainant, your name and any identifying information about you will not appear on the register.

What if I am not satisfied with the ICRC’s decision?

Unless the decision is a referral to the Discipline Committee or for incapacity proceedings, both you and the Registered Dental Hygienist have the right to request a review (similar to an appeal). You have to make that request within 30 days of receipt of the ICRC’s decision. The ICRC cannot review its own decision. The Health Professions Appeal and Review Board (HPARB) conducts the review with a panel of non-health care professionals. HPARB is an independent body established by the provincial government.