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Council Highlights for March 4-5, 2020

The 421st meeting of the RCDSO Council was held in Toronto on March 4 to 5, 2020.

Council members attended a special Symposium on College Governance and Performance Measurement on March 4. The goal of the session was to consider how notions of regulatory governance, especially in health, are changing around the world. We invited some of the leading experts in the field to share their knowledge with us. Representatives of the Ministry of Health and colleagues from some other health colleges joined us.

Martin Fletcher, CEO, Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency spoke about what he describes as the “Crash through Change Model”. He described how three factors – a political moment, a spirit of cooperative federalism and a set of health emergencies – led to radical change. A common system of registration was imposed across the country. Although there was much upheaval in the early days of the now 10-year-old system, we were told that working out the bugs of the new system was probably more festive than slow, incremental change. One immense benefit was a common system to recording and tracking data which has made evidence-based decision-making much better informed.

From the west coast of Canada, Chris Hacker, Registrar and CEO of the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia (CDSBC) described that College’s ongoing transformation. The BC Government followed the recommendations of a report by Harry Cayton with the UK’s Professional Standards Authority. The result was a clear separation of the regulator and the BC Dental Association and a renewed focus on serving the public interest. The board of the College was reduced in numbers; still to come are plans to combine some colleges together. Chris told us that throughout the process, he has emphasized the importance of understanding “where the public is” and how their needs are being met.

Lawyer Rebecca Durkin, a partner at Toronto firm Steinecke Maciura LeBlanc told us about “Governance Trends” in Canada and elsewhere. Her overview described what makes a good board (or council) and a good board member. She also spoke to the need for clear competencies for different roles so that regulators can make informed decisions.

David O’Flynn, Registrar and Chief Officer at Dental Council of Ireland, described an Irish model of what he described as “balanced governance”. Despite suggestions in some areas that elected models of governance are no longer relevant, David spoke of the benefits of having professional voices, as well as those of the public, in determining best approaches to governance. He noted that, in Ireland, the Dental Council Board includes dentists, public appointees and representatives from the dental faculties, a mix that he feels is critical for success.

RCDSO Registrar Irwin Fefergrad talked about the need for well-identified “College Performance Measurements”. Irwin spoke of how a working group in Ontario has already developed a draft performance measurement framework that could be used across all regulated health colleges. The goal would be to accurately assess which colleges were succeeding and how that information could be used to bolster other colleges through best practices. Irwin emphasized the need for any college to be ‘agile and nimble’ so that changing conditions could be addressed quickly

Symposium attendees then shared ideas on how to address some of the questions raised in the day’s -presentations. A report on that session will be released later.

In other Council news from Thursday, March 5th:

  • Roderick Stableforth was welcomed as newest public member of the College.

  • Council held an election to fill an open public member position on the Executive Committee. Vivian Hu was elected.

  • For the next Council elections there will be a change to how election materials are distributed.
    Candidates will be given the opportunity to create web pages external to the College and post information about their candidacies.

  • A by-law was amended to recognize the new role of the National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB) in setting specialty exams.

  • The Search Committee has engaged an executive search agency to assist in looking for the new Registrar.