College of Alberta Dental Assistants

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Complaint Process

Our College is a self-governing body whose primary mandate is protection of the public. To ensure public safety, we respond to complaints about the professional activities of Registered Dental Assistants.

Discipline is a process whereby complaints are investigated, hearings are held, and offending practitioners are sanctioned for unprofessional conduct.*

The Complaints Director is the person responsible for all matters relating to the complaints/discipline process.

The Complaint

In most cases, a written and signed complaint must be received to initiate an investigation. Using the Complaint Reporting Form will help to ensure the necessary information is provided. Letters of complaint can be submitted by members of the public, registered dental assistants or any other health care providers.

Within 30 days of receiving a complaint, the Complaints Director has several options for action which include, but are not limited to the following:

  • encouraging the complainant and the investigated person to communicate, and resolve the complaint 
  • attempting to resolve the complaint, with consent from the complainant and investigated person 
  • referring the complainant and investigated person to the Alternative Complaint Resolution process 
  • conducting an investigation 
  • dismissing the complaint 
  • assessing incapacity

The Investigation (if applicable)

The purpose of an investigation is to collect all pertinent information/evidence relating to the complaint, and the conduct of the registered dental assistant. The Complaints Director generally conducts the investigation.

A Notice of Investigation is sent to the registered dental assistant who is being investigated. Any person can be compelled to answer questions, and provide documents related to the investigation. After the investigation is completed the Complaints Director will decide whether to refer the matter for a hearing, or dismiss the complaint.

The Hearing (if applicable)

Information is presented to a Hearing Tribunal, and witnesses may be called. A Hearing Tribunal consists of registered dental assistants, along with the number of public members required under the Health Professions Act (HPA). Legal counsel and a court reporter are also present. The investigated person is informed of the date, time and location of the hearing, and may be represented by his or her own legal counsel. Hearings are generally open to the public; there are guidelines in place for public attendance.

The Decision (if applicable)

After consideration of all the information, evidence and witness testimony provided, the Hearing Tribunal decides whether or not the conduct of an investigated person constitutes unprofessional conduct.*

If a finding of unprofessional conduct* is made, the Hearing Tribunal may make any orders, and/or assess fines and costs of the hearing as it sees fit. Examples of orders include, but are not limited to the following:

  • issuing a reprimand
  • imposing conditions on a practice permit (i.e. practicing under supervision)
  • mandatory counselling
  • mandatory upgrading/courses
  • suspension or cancellation of the registration and practice permit
  • fines of up to $5000 for each finding of unprofessional conduct* ($25,000 maximum)
  • costs, or a portion of the costs of the hearing

The Appeal (if filed)

The investigated person may appeal the decision(s) of the Hearing Tribunal in writing. The appeal is submitted to College Council for a decision. The investigated person may be represented by legal counsel at an appeal. Legal counsel is also present. If the appeal is denied, Legal Council may order the investigated person to pay all, or a portion of the costs of the appeal; in addition to any orders/fines assessed by the Hearing Tribunal.

For additional information or to file a complaint, contact the Complaints Director.

*Unprofessional Conduct

Unprofessional conduct is defined in the Health Professions Act as follows:

"unprofessional conduct" means one or more of the following, whether or not it is disgraceful or dishonourable:

(i) displaying a lack of knowledge of or lack of skill or judgment in the provision of professional services;

(ii) contravention of this Act, a code of ethics or standards of practice;

(iii) contravention of another enactment that applies to the profession;

(iv) representing or holding out that a person was a regulated member and in good standing while the person’s registration or practice permit was suspended or cancelled;

(v) representing or holding out that person's registration or practice permit is not subject to conditions when it is or misrepresenting the conditions;

(vi) failure or refusal

(A) to comply with the requirements of the continuing competence program, or

(B) to co operate with a competence committee or a person appointed under section 11 undertaking a practice visit;

(vii) failure or refusal

(A) to comply with an agreement that is part of a ratified settlement,

(B) to comply with a request of or co operate with an investigator,

(C) to undergo an examination under section 118, or

(D) to comply with a notice to attend or a notice to produce under Part 4;

(viii) contravening an order under Part 4, conditions imposed on a practice permit or a direction under section 118(4);

(ix) carrying on the practice of the regulated profession with a person who is contravening section 98 or an order under Part 4 or conditions imposed on a practice permit or a direction under section 118(4);

(x) carrying on the practice of the regulated profession of physicians, surgeons, osteopaths, dentists, chiropractors or optometrists on behalf of a corporation that does not meet the requirements of sections 104 to 115 or as a partner of a partnership that does not meet the requirements of section 98(3);

(xi) carrying on the practice of the regulated profession of physical therapists on behalf of a corporation that does not meet the requirements of Schedule 20;

(xii) conduct that harms the integrity of the regulated profession.

The Alberta Ombudsman is responsible for determining administrative fairness. Section 127 of the HPA states that anyone may make a complaint to the Ombudsman regarding anything under the HPA in accordance with the Ombudsman Act.