August 4, 2005
The following is being distributed at the request
of the Human Rights Commission:
The Human Rights Commission comments upon the decision
The nine dentists had come to
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
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
As a remedy, the Board of Inquiry ordered the Dental
Board to circulate a copy of its decision to other dental boards in
The Dental Board appealed all aspects of the Board of
Inquiry decision. The Supreme Court
rejected the Dental Board�s appeal in its entirety and in doing so stated:
�I conclude that the Board
of Inquiry correctly interpreted s.6(1) of the Code and that the
Board�s finding of discrimination was based upon reasonable findings of fact.
The Dental Board did not establish any defence to the claim of
discrimination. The condition that
the Second Respondents undergo additional study and examination was not
necessary for public safety since they held clinically unrestricted licences and
the Dental Board had no concerns about their competency. In the circumstances
the Dental Board could have reasonably concluded it had conducted an
�alternative evaluation process�, as discussed in the MRA, when
granting the provisional licences, by confirming the Second Respondents had
passed comprehensive examinations when they completed their dental studies and
were licenced to practice in the United Kingdom.
The Dental Board should have maintained focus upon the competency of the
Second Respondents, rather than on the fact other dentists might complain about
having had to complete the NDEB certification process.
The decision once again confirms that discrimination
can occur in the absence of bad faith or an intention to discriminate.
A neutral rule which treats everybody equally can have unintended but
adverse effects on certain groups in society.
Media contact: Barry
Fleming, Executive Director, Human Rights Commission,