October 25, 2004


The following is being distributed at the request of the Human Rights Commission:

The Human Rights Commission comments upon the decision of Judy S. Morrow, the Board of Inquiry appointed to hear the human rights matter of Keith et al v. Newfoundland Dental Board. Ms. Morrow released her decision on October 19, 2004 confirming that the nine foreign-trained dentists named in the complaints had been discriminated against by the dental board when it refused to grant them general licences before July 1, 2001.

The nine dentists had come to Newfoundland in the late 1970s and 1980s and were granted provisional licences by the dental board to practice in specific geographic locations. There were never any restrictions on the scope of practice offered by the dentists to the public. The dental board had negotiated a Mutual Recognition Agreement with other governing dental bodies across Canada which provided national mobility for dentists who held general licences on or before July 1, 2001. The nine dentists had lobbied the dental board to exercise its discretion to convert their provisional licence to general licence prior to that date.

The dental board�s position was that despite the fact they held unrestricted clinical licences, the dentists would have to undergo an expensive educational undertaking outside the province in order to have their licences converted. The dentists declined this offer but in February 2003 the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador amended the Dental Regulations so as to convert their provisional licences to general licences but this was too late for them to avail of the mobility benefits of the Mutual Recognition Agreement.

The dentists filed complaints with the Human Rights Commission and a Board of Inquiry was subsequently convened in January and March, 2004. The board ruled that the dental board had the discretion to grant the dentists a general licence prior to July 1, 2001 and its failure to do so had an adverse effect (lack of national mobility) on them because of their national origin. While the board may not have intended to discriminate against the dentists, the imposition of a condition that they undergo an educational undertaking - when the board acknowledged their competency - discriminated against them.

As a remedy, the Board of Inquiry ordered the dental board to circulate a copy of its decision to other dental boards in Canada and to assist the dentists in being grandparented with national mobility. In the alternative, the dental board is to initiate a review of the terms of the Mutual Recognition Agreement so as to negotiate mobility rights for the dentists or if necessary, file a complaint under the dispute resolution provisions of the Agreement on Internal Trade.

Media contact: Barry Fleming, Executive Director, (709)729-2709 or 1-800-563-5808

2004 10 25                   11:10 a.m.

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