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In September 2013, Ontario’s Office of the Fairness Commissioner (OFC) performed a targeted assessment of the way the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (RCDSO) registers people who apply for a licence to practise in Ontario, to ensure that the registration practices are fair and continue to improve.

Assessment is one of the Fairness Commissioner's mandated roles under the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA).

Assessment Cycle

To hold regulatory bodies accountable for continuous improvement, the OFC assesses their licensing practices using a two-year assessment cycle.

Assessment cycles alternate between full assessments and targeted assessments:

  • Full assessments address all specific and general duties described in the RHPA.
  • Targeted assessments focus on the areas where the OFC made recommendations in the previous full assessment.

This approach establishes continuity between the assessment cycles.


Focus of This Assessment and Report

The September 2013 targeted assessment of the RCDSO focused on the areas where the OFC made recommendations in the full assessment it completed in December 2011.

The OFC’s detailed report captures the results of the targeted assessment. The assessment summary provides the following key information from the detailed report:

  • duties that were assessed
  • an overview of comments related to the general duty
  • commendable practices
  • recommendations


Availability of Report

The OFC encourages the RCDSO to provide the detailed report to its staff, council members, the public, and other interested parties.

To receive a copy of the detailed report, click here.


Assessment Methods

Assessments are based on the Registration Practices Assessment Guide – For Health Regulatory Colleges. The guide presents registration practices relating to the specific duties and general duty in the RHPA.

A regulatory body’s practices can be measured against the RHPA’s specific duties in a straightforward way. However, the general duty is broad, and the principles it mentions (transparency, objectivity, impartiality and fairness) are not defined in the legislation.

As a result, the specific-duty and general-duty obligations are assessed differently (see the Strategy for Continuous Improvement of Registration Practices).

Specific Duties

The OFC can clearly determine whether a regulatory body demonstrates the specific-duty practices in the assessment guide. Therefore, for each specific-duty practice, the OFC provides one of the following assessment outcomes:

  • Demonstrated – all required elements of the practice are present or addressed
  • Partially Demonstrated – some but not all required elements are present or addressed
  • Not Demonstrated – none of the required elements are present or addressed
  • Not Applicable – this practice does not apply to this regulatory body

General Duty

Because there are many ways that a regulatory body can demonstrate that its practices, overall, are meeting the principles of the general duty, the OFC makes assessment comments for the general duty, rather than identifying assessment outcomes. For the same reason, assessment comments are made by principle, rather than by practice.

For information about the OFC’s interpretations of the general-duty principles and the practices that the OFC uses as a guideline for assessment, see the Registration Practices Assessment Guide – For Health Regulatory Colleges.

Commendable Practices and Recommendations

Where applicable, the OFC identifies commendable practices or recommendations for improvement related to the specific duties and general duty.


Assessment outcomes, comments, and commendable practices and recommendations are based on information provided by the regulatory body. The OFC relies on the accuracy of this information to produce the assessment report. The OFC compiles registration information from sources such as the following:

  • Fair Registration Practices Reports, audits, Entry-to-Practice Review Reports, annual meetings
  • the regulatory body’s:
    • website
    • policies, procedures, guidelines and related documentation templates for communication with applicants
    • regulations and bylaws
    • internal auditing and reporting mechanisms
    • third-party agreements and related monitoring or reporting documentation
    • qualifications assessments and related documentation
  • targeted questions/requests for evidence that the regulatory body demonstrates a practice or principle

For more information  about the assessment cycle, assessment process, and legislative obligations, see the Strategy for Continuous Improvement of Registration Practices.


Assessment Summary

Specific Duties

Specific duties assessed

As a result of the recommendations made in the full assessment completed in December 2011, the RCDSO has been assessed in the area(s) marked below:

None Checked
Information for Applicants Unchecked
Internal "Review" Unchecked
Information on Appeal Rights Unchecked
Documentation of Qualifications Unchecked
Assessment of Qualifications Unchecked
Training Unchecked
Access to Records Unchecked


General Duty

Assessment Method

The RCDSO selected the method marked below for the assessing of its adherence to the general-duty principles, and informed the OFC:

a. OFC assesses based on the practices listed in the assessment guide Unchecked
b. Regulatory body self-assesses based on the practices in the assessment guide Checked
c. Regulatory body self-assesses using a system-based approach, in which it explains what it does to ensure that its practices are adhering to the general-duty principles Unchecked

Principles assessed

As a result of the recommendations made in the full assessment completed in December 2011, the RCDSO has been assessed on the principle(s) marked below:

None Unchecked
Transparency Checked
Objectivity Unchecked
Impartiality Unchecked
Fairness Unchecked


The OFC found that since the last assessment, the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (RCDSO) has demonstrated all general-duty practices related to transparency.


Commendable Practices

A commendable practice is a program, activity or strategy that goes beyond the minimum standards set by the OFC assessment guides, considering the regulatory body’s resources and profession-specific context. Commendable practices may or may not have potential for transferability to another regulatory body.

The RCDSO is demonstrating commendable practices in the following area(s).


  • ensuring that policies and criteria are readily available to staff and decision-makers through several instructional binders, including the RCDSO’s Registration Membership Policy Manual and Registration How-to Guide. The binders:
    • contain easy-to-understand resources for staff and decision-makers who are involved in registration. For example, the how-to guide contains many plain-language procedures, instructions and policies on how to deal with day-to-day problems and questions that staff may encounter.
    • provide detailed explanations about processes and documentation used in international jurisdictions
    • are quickly updated to ensure that they are consistent and accurately describe policies and procedures
  • ensuring that all staff members are informed electronically about upcoming changes to registration information
  • in 2013, asking the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) in the United Kingdom to review the RCDSO’s performance as a regulator against the PSA’s Standards of Good Regulation. The PSA issued a report on the RCDSO’s performance, which the RCDSO published on its website. The review was an independent assessment of how the RCDSO was performing compared to regulators in other countries. This proactive approach to external assessment of its governance and processes demonstrates the RCDSO’s openness towards ensuring public accountability.
  • providing, in its registration information, a detailed explanation about its conduct requirement. The explanation:
    • informs applicants that they will be asked for information and documentation about past and present conduct
    • includes examples, processes and rationales for the types of information requested and helps applicants to better prepare to show that they meet this requirement
  • creating a new dedicated section on the RCDSO website, called "How is Training Completed Outside of Canada Assessed?" This section explains:
    • the roles of the RCDSO and its third parties – the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada and the National Dental Examining Board of Canada – in the assessment process
    • global differences in dental training
    • competency standards used in curriculum development, standard setting, exam development, and assessment procedures
    • immigration matters and pathways to registration that are commonly asked about The RCDSO has provided these explanations as a result of increased feedback from individuals who need more information about the assessment processes. RCDSO plans to further develop this section to make it easier to access particular topics.
  • in 2012, reviewing registration information on the RCDSO website, revising and improving the information, and redesigning the website. The improved website includes clearer information for applicants, and is more accessible and user-friendly.



The OFC has not made any recommendations for this assessment period.
The OFC expects that the RCDSO will continue maintaining its standards in the future.
In the spirit of continuous improvement, the OFC encourages the RCDSO to continue its efforts towards more transparent, objective, impartial and fair registration process.

Assessment History

In the previous assessment, the OFC identified three recommendations for this regulatory body.

They have all been implemented.