Royal College of
Dental Surgeons of Ontario
Contact Us RCDSO Portal Login
Search Filter Options

Section D: RCDSO's Council

Composition of Council

RCDSO’s Council is the College’s board of directors. It is made up of 14 dentists, and a minimum of nine to a maximum of 11 public members. Two of the dentists are academic representatives from each of the province’s dental faculties – the University of Toronto and Western University.

Role of a Council Member

As members of the College’s board of directors, Council members have a fiduciary relationship with the College. They have a legal responsibility to act in what they believe to be the best interests of the public.

By accepting a position as a Council member or committee member, you occupy a position of trust and confidence. Your personal interest and the interest of any constituency that elected you must at all times be secondary to adherence to regulation and protecting the public interest.

All Council members, whether dentists or public members, are equal at the table, and participate equally in discussions and decision-making. While you may bring your own individual opinions to a Council discussion, once a decision is made, you are bound by that decision. In addition, all Council members must adhere to statutory requirements, the Code of Conduct, their signed declarations and the College’s bylaws.

Organizational values

Council and committee members should reflect the following values to ensure the continuing trust of the public and our members and staff:

  • accountability
  • integrity
  • confidentiality
  • fairness and equitable treatment
  • respect for the individual and group differences
  • openness, transparency and accessibility
  • flexibility and openness to change
  • mutual respect and collaboration
  • quality service
  • consensus building
  • following government mandate.


Council and committee members must take an active role in informed decision-making. Substantial background support information is provided in advance of meetings.

The quality of decision-making is enriched by the variety of perspectives brought to the discussions by the various Council and committee members.

The freedom of opinion of Council and committee members, as individuals, cannot be compromised. At the same time, Council and committee members must not undermine the credibility of the group decisions.

Once Council has made a decision, it becomes the decision of the entire group. All Council members – no matter how they spoke or voted during the debate – are expected to respect and support that decision to interested parties outside of the organization.

Council members should identify their perspectives and concerns during the discussion. Ideas need to be shared with the entire group, so that all members have the same information and exposure to the fullest range of perspectives needed for effective decision-making.

Some of the statutory committees meet or carry out their deliberations in camera – that is, during private sessions dealing with information that must remain confidential for legal or other reasons. The work and decisions of these committees are not subject to review by Council on a case-specific basis. Examples include the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee, and the Discipline and Registration Committees.

Council Member Job Description

The dentists and the public members appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council are collectively responsible for the regulation of the dental profession under the framework of the RHPA and the Dentistry Act. In performing this function, Council members are expected to fulfill their responsibilities as outlined in these guidelines.

Demonstrate Leadership and Accountability

All Council members are asked to come from a place of integrity and accountability in their service to the College. Members of the Council are the leaders of the organization and are held to the highest standards to model for others. Council members:

  • Demonstrate accountability to the public through decision-making in the public interest
  • Identify potential or perceived conflict of interest situations and address such situations as set out in the Conflict of Interest bylaw
  • Understand and identify cases in which prior knowledge may affect your ability to function on a committee or Council
  • Recognize and respect confidential information learned in the course of RCDSO activities
  • Understand the division of roles and responsibilities of governing Council and staff
  • Respect appropriate social and professional boundaries between Council members and staff
  • Maintain constructive, collaborative and mutually respectful relations with other Council members and staff
  • Maintain constructive relationships with the committees on which you serve through supporting committee decisions at Council, or through informing the chair of your intention to take a dissenting position
  • Maintain good relations with membership, staff, public, dental organizations, educational groups and government bodies.

Possess the Necessary Knowledge

Council members are required to read materials relevant to their role, the organization and to the decisions they will make. Members:

  • Acquire and apply knowledge of Council and committee policies and procedures, including relevant legislation and Council values
  • Maintain knowledge of College functions and issues facing Council
  • Maintain knowledge of issues relevant to the committees on which you participate
  • Review all material in advance of Council and committee meetings
  • Identify information needed to enhance Council and committee discussions and decision-making
  • Communicate regional concerns to Council or committees
  • Relay Council decisions and rationale to individuals and groups in your region.

Effectively Participate in Council Decision-Making

  • Arrange your schedule to allow attendance at meetings
  • Contribute constructively to Council and committee discussions and decision-making
  • Maintain a positive working relationship with both Council and College staff
  • Resolve concerns with the committee chair or Council president
  • Respect the specialized knowledge and expertise of other Council members and staff
  • Identify issues to be added to the Council or committee agenda.

The Relationship between Council and Committees

No committee can operate or make policy independently of Council. Committees can only make recommendations to Council. Policy issues or decisions need Council approval.

In the case of dentist-specific issues for dentists who are in the College’s regulatory process, committees must fulfill their statutory obligations. So, for example, Council would develop a general policy on pre-hearing conferences, yet the implementation of that policy is left up to the committee. For dentist- specific matters, statutory Committees are independent of Council.

Decisions of the committees (namely the Discipline Committee; Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee; Registration Committee; and Executive Committee) are made consistent with the College’s regulations, bylaws, Council policies, the RHPA and the Dentistry Act. Specific decisions related to dentists’ conduct are made through these committees without Council involvement. Council members may not speak to the Discipline Committee, the Registration Committee nor the Inquiries, Complaints & Reports Committee about any case-specific matter.

Committees that consider matters dealing with dentist or applicant conduct are instructed to treat these matters confidentially. That means that committee members must not discuss the matter with anyone. All discussions on conduct issues must take place only in the Committee meeting.

In matters dealing with conduct or dentist-specific issues, committees meet in camera. The only exception to this is the Discipline Committee as legislation requires this committee’s meetings to be open to the public.

The Relationship between Council Members and Staff

Council, committee members and staff work in a complementary partnership. Staff members of the College serve as a valuable resource to Council members and committees in their decision-making and are responsible for the implementation of decisions made by Council and committees, however the Discipline Committee’s deliberations remain in camera.

The Process for Committee Members and Chair Selection

After Council elections in December and prior to the meeting of Council in January, Council members are asked to provide their preferences for committees on which they wish to serve. While preferences will be considered, there is no guarantee they can be accommodated.

At the first meeting following the Council elections, an orientation meeting is held, followed by a Council dinner. The next day, Council commences a formal meeting open to the public. Nominations, speeches and elections for the positions of president, vice-president and the remaining three positions on the Executive Committee are held, as set out in the bylaws. Immediately following the election to the Executive Committee, the newly elected Executive Committee assembles privately as the Nominating Committee to develop a proposed slate of committee members and chairs.

The Nominating Committee must take into account the operational policies decided by previous Councils, along with the legislative and bylaw requirements regarding quorums for committees, potential conflicts, prescribed size of committees, as well as prescribed number of members of committees fulfilling the non-council, public member and dentist requirements. The Committee makes sections based on merit, experience, CVs, and the needs of the committee.

The Council reconvenes to consider a motion to accept the final proposed slate of Committee members and chairs as presented by the Nominating Committee.

What does Council do?

Council Meetings

The Council holds at least three regular meetings a year. These meetings are open to the public, except for in camera business sessions. Guests from organizations, such as the Ontario Dental Association, dental specialty societies, and the Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care, are invited to attend.

The first meeting is typically held between January 15 and April 15, the second meeting is held between May 1 and June 30, and the third meeting is between September 15 and November 30. Each meeting is typically one full day, with an informal session the evening before. From time to time, Council may hold additional regular meetings, in person or by teleconference call.

Background information is forwarded to Council members prior to each Council meeting and is available on the College's website. This material includes reports from various committees, including recommendations and financial implications where applicable.

Council members are expected to come to each meeting prepared to participate knowledgeably in decision-making. Meeting minutes are recorded and posted on the College's website once approved by Council. The Ministry pays close attention to the content and outcomes of Council meetings.

In Camera Sessions of Council Meetings

Parts of Council meetings take place in camera, meaning in private. Typically only Council members (and sometimes, senior management of the College) are present.

Committee Reports at Council Meetings

Council members receive and review committee reports in preparation for each Council meeting. Committee reports include two distinct parts.

Part A: For Action

Committees make recommendations to Council about an action item, such as the approval of a new or updated College bylaw. These recommendations are based on the work of the Committee and need Council approval to move forward.

Council members have an opportunity to discuss the merits of a recommendation and even seek amendment to a recommendation. Once this discussion takes place, Council members vote on the recommendation. Council members should extend some deference to the work of Committees.

Part B: For Information

Committee reports also include items that are for information only. This typically includes an update on the ongoing work of a Committee, such as revisions to a practice advisory.

Council members have the opportunity to discuss an informational item in a committee report and seek additional information.

Council/Committee Member Time Commitment

The College holds a mandatory orientation session for all council members at the beginning of a council term. This typically takes place in early January. All council members are required to attend the council orientation before participating in committees.

Council has three regular meetings per year. Typically, the meetings are held in Toronto for one full day plus an informal meeting session the evening before.

Depending on the committee, participation varies from “as needed” to several days per year. Some committees have set schedules with no flexibility, while others are more flexible. Of all the committees, the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports (ICR) Committee requires the largest time commitment – up to two in-person, full day meetings per month, plus two days of preparation for each committee meeting.

Review the description of each committee for specific details on time commitments.