Dentists may soon be able to treat their spouses
Bill 70 passes 3rd reading!
Happy times! Dentists may / will likely soon be able to treat their spouses without fear of losing their license!
The idea that a dentist who treats their spouse could lose their license for 5 years based on some bad laws could all be relegated to a bad memory… You can read this previous blog I wrote about how this all came to be.
Fast forward to October 23, 2013. On that day, the Ontario Parliament passed Bill 70 entitled the Regulated Health Professionals Amendment Act (Spousal Exemption) 2013 . This Bill makes minor amendments to the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 by allowing the RCDSO to make a regulation that would allow dentists to treat their spouses without committing what was previously considered “sexual abuse” (and which could have cost the dentist their license for 5 years).
Now, for the dentist to be able to do so, a few things must happen:
1. Bill 70 needs to receive royal assent (a formality).
2. The RCDSO must pass a regulation exempting their members (i.e. dentists) and the Ontario’s Cabinet must approve.
3. The patient must be the dentist’s spouse. The definition of “spouse” is very clear and includes someone who is married to the dentist or who has lived with the dentist in a conjugal relationship outside of marriage continuously for a period of not less than three (3) years. This is based on the definition of “spouse” in other laws, such as the Family Law Act.
4. The dentist must not be engaged in the practice of dentistry at the time the conduct, behaviour or remark that would consistent “sexual abuse” occurs. This is designed to protect spousal patients who may also be victims of sexual abuse.
So to recap: Bill 70 allows individual colleges to determine if their membership feels it’s proper to allow one spouse to treat another and to then make a regulation to adopt the spousal exemption. Currently and previously, if a member of a regulated health profession provides care to their spouse, it is automatically considered sexual abuse. The rationale for this Bill is to eliminate the default charge of sexual abuse within colleges that have a history of regulation as related to treatment of spouses.
This is a great achievement for a number of reasons. First, it was based on a private -member’s Bill which don’t often become law. Second, it found common ground among many legislators. Third, it is very flexible and allows each regulated health college the opportunity to exempt their members if they so choose. Fourth, it still compliments the Ontario Government’s ZERO Tolerance policy against sexual abuse.
Congratulations to all (ODA, Government, Dentists, Spouses!) 😉