Opposition to CDHBC's proposed bylaw change to Patient Relations
We are signing this petition to oppose The College of Dental Hygienists of British Columbia (CDHBC) proposed bylaw amendment of its Patient Relations Program. We feel strongly that the college is doing a disservice to the public and treating spouses and partners of British Columbia’s registered dental hygienists differently than other members of the public the CDHBC is trying to protect. This proposed bylaw amendment, of not allowing registered dental hygienists of BC to provide treatment to their spouses or partners, negatively affects these spouses and partners by limiting their access to affordable dental care. Some of us have worked in multiple dental clinics over the years and most do not offer extended health benefits, but they did provide free or lab cost only dental care to their staff and their families. Please consider the following:
1. The access to dental hygiene care for spouses/partners of registered dental hygienists that work in isolated areas where the closest registered dental hygienist is their spouse/partner.
2. The coverage of dental hygiene services for spouses/partners without dental insurance that is covered only in the dental office where their registered dental hygienist spouse/partner is employed and is the only registered dental hygienist in the office.
3. The spouse/partner’s right to choose their dental hygiene provider.
We feel CHDBC’s proposed bylaw amendment to prevent professional misconduct; including sexual misconduct of a sexual nature is incomplete. We ask that you consider a spousal exception, similar to if not the same as Ontario’s Bill 70, Regulated Health Professions Amendment Act (Spousal Exception), 2013 (http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_detail.do?locale=en&BillID=2792 ) and add subsections to include :
"conduct, behaviour or remarks that would otherwise constitute professional misconduct of a sexual nature of a patient by a member under the definition of "professional misconduct of a sexual nature" in subsection (4) do not constitute professional misconduct of a sexual nature if,
(a) the patient is the member’s spouse; and
(b) the member is not engaged in the practice of the profession at the time the conduct, behaviour or remark occurs.
(6) For the purposes of subsection (5),
“spouse”, in relation to a member, means,
(a) a person who is the member’s spouse as defined in section 1 of the Family Law Act, or
(b) a person who has lived with the member in a conjugal relationship outside of marriage continuously for a period of not less than three years."
CDHBC, too, can adopt this spousal exception. As members of CHDBC, we provide quality dental hygiene care to our spouses and partners with the utmost professionalism. We feel CDHBC is questioning our ability to be professional and taking away our spouse/partner’s right to choose a dental provider. Some of us work in larger practices with other qualified dental hygienists, so these spouses/partners do not have to go to another practice and pay out of pocket for their dental hygiene services because that is a benefit offered at these dental practices. What about registered dental hygienists providing quality and professional dental hygiene services to their spouses or partners in remote areas of British Columbia? CDHBC has stated that “these spouses can visit a hygienist in another town or arrange for a mobile dental hygienist to provide care”. (http://www.cdhbc.com/Documents/Patient-Relations-Bulletin-May-4-FINAL-PDF.aspx ) What is a reasonable distance to ask patients to travel to seek dental hygiene services? 100 kilometers? 50 kilometers? What about in the winter? Do they have to wait until spring for their three month continuing care appointment because they are concerned with their safety on icy or snowy roads? Not to mention the cost of travel and dental expenses the spouse or partner now has to pay because their treatment is only covered at the office their spouse or partner works at. We feel like this is going against everything dental health professionals are trying to improve on, such as: access to affordable dental care for all Canadians, including British Columbians.
Registered Dental Hygienists of B.C. have a zero tolerance for professional misconduct of a sexual nature and we trust CDHBC to deal with any member that violates this bylaw. Providing dental hygiene treatment to our spouses and partners does not violate any B.C. laws today and nor should it in the future. If a CDHBC member has been accused of sexual misconduct, it should not matter if it is a spouse, partner or whomever, the matter should be dealt with accordingly.
Please consider adding a spousal/partner exemption to CDHBC's proposed bylaw amendment to reinforce our commitment to protect the public, all public, including the spouses and partners of Registered Dental Hygienists of British Columbia.