‘I’m a Dental hygienist, NOT sexual abuser!’ Canadian dental hygienist who lost licence for treating wife, cries out against inhumane code of ethics that brands treating spouse, ‘Sexual Abuse’, regardless of consent
“It’s just heartbreaking and ridiculous at the same time because everybody feels sorry for me, but they have to follow the law and literally destroy everything that I am and everything that I’ve worked for” – Alexandru Tanase
Dental hygienist in Ontario who lost his licence for treating his wife’s teeth is appealing to the public after losing his bid to have his punishment overturned.
‘Heartbreaking and ridiculous,’ says Alexandru Tanase who lost his licence for treating wife
The medical practitioner fell victim to a zero-tolerance policy the province enacted the in 1993 to protect patients from exploitation
In Ontario, it’s considered professional misconduct if a dental hygienist has “sexually abused a patient”
According to the Regulated Health Professions Act, sexual abuse includes any sexual intercourse or other types of sexual relations
Consent is irrelevant, and a spouse is included in the definition of a patient.
Ontario dental hygienist who lost licence for treating wife speaks out
Tanase is serving a mandatory licence revocation, including a five-year hiatus from practicing dentistry, before he can re-apply for reinstatement
Ontario dental hygienist, Alexandru Tanase [right], who lost licence for treating his wife [left], speaks out. He is appealing to the public after losing his bid to have his punishment overturned
“I want people, everybody that’s looking at me right now, including the [College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario] and including the government of Ontario, I want them to know what kind of person I am,” said Alexandru Tanase who has his practice in Canadian province of Ontario.
“I’m fighting for over 14,000 dental hygienists in Ontario that can’t provide and want to provide care for their spouse,” Alexandru Tanase says.
Tanase [left] ran afoul of professional code of ethics after a disciplinary hearing arose on the heels of a complaint to the College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario from a colleague, who had spotted a June 2016 Facebook post from Tanase’s grateful wife, identified as S.M.
Earlier in September, Ontario’s Divisional Court released its decision to uphold the College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario’s [CDHO] discipline committee’s decision to revoke Tanase’s licence after he treated his wife’s teeth.
According to the Regulated Health Professions Act, sexual abuse includes any sexual intercourse or other types of sexual relations. – Consent is irrelevant, and a spouse is included in the definition of a patient.
The disciplinary committee was that Tanase’s now wife identified in court records simply as S.M., feared dental treatment and had had no care for several years when she became platonic friends with Tanase in 2012. He soon provided her with free in-office treatment.
In mid-2014 the pair became romantically involved. Tanase ceased treating her because of the blanket ban on sexual relations between health-care professionals and their patients.
The province enacted the zero-tolerance policy in 1993 to protect patients from exploitation. Consent is irrelevant.
While working at a clinic in Guelph, Ontario, a colleague told Tanase that dental hygienists were allowed to treat their spouses. On record, the college approved a spousal exemption in September 2015, but the legislature never adopted the rule.
Based on his erroneous understanding of the law, Tanase resumed treating his otherwise treatment-averse fiancee, and continued doing so after they wedded in early 2016.
The Committee ruled it had no choice but to find Tanase had violated the ban on sexual relations with a patient, though the patient was his spouse and the sex consensual.
He therefore was subject to mandatory licence revocation and a five-year hiatus from practicing dentistry.
“You have paid a heavy price,” the committee said. “We sincerely hope to see you again as an active member of the dental hygiene profession.”
Tanase appealed to the courts, arguing the law violated his constitutional rights.
In its ruling, the Divisional Court panel said Tanase posed no danger to the public, and expressed sympathy for the couple given that he cannot practice for at least five years.
Full statement video of Ontario dental hygienist who lost licence for treating wife speaks out
The CDHO council approved a regulation to exempt spouses from the sexual abuse provisions in 2015, but it hasn’t been passed as law yet in Ontario.
The four-year government delay in approving the exemption sought by the College of Dental Hygienists means that cases like the Tanase’s is subject to a a mandatory revocation of a professional’s licence for a finding of sexual abuse.
Court documents show that before Tanase started treating his wife, she told him that she had a fear of dental treatment and therefore hadn’t sought care in several years. After Tanase provided care to his wife, she posted on Facebook expressing her gratitude, at which point a complaint was launched to the CDHO.
Once there’s a complaint, statutorily, under the Regulated Health Professions Act, the College shall investigate by the college is mandatory.
According to a document on the CDHO website, the Canadian Ministry of Health delegates to health colleges the ability to govern a profession only if they do so in the public interest.
The alleged sexual abuse victim identified in court records as ‘SM’, [left], defends her husband and dentist, Ontario based dental hygienist, Alexandru Tanase [right], who lost his licence for treating her
In a a situation where the Divisional Court is bound by precedent cases, legal experts are of the opinion that if the CDHO had ignored the legislation, they could fall into the trap of losing their autonomy and having the government sending in a supervisor to run the College.
Tanase’s attorneys seeking to raise the $35,000 fee required to file a leave application to the Court of Appeal have started a GoFundMe to ask for help to pay the fees. Tanase said. “Whatever I have [left] over, I will donate to a sexual abuse organization that actually deals with preventing sexual abuse.
The Canadian Dental Hygienists Association [CDHA], which is supporting Tanase in the case. The organization has shared Tanase’s story on social media and has written to the Ontario government.
According to Ondina Love, the CEO of CDHA, the only provinces in Canada that have legislation regarding providing dental hygiene care to spouses are Ontario and New Brunswick.
“There are no regulations in the rest of the country,” she said.
Tanase and a young patient give thumbs up after a successful visit. If he loses his fightback he will have to wait five years for similar moments
e dental hygiene Alexandru Tanase
Love said Ontario even goes a step further than New Brunswick; the latter does not require a mandatory revocation of a hygienist’s licence for five years if a complaint is received.
“We really feel that for so many reasons, dental hygienists across the country, including Ontario, should be able to treat their spouse,” Love added.
“It’s a huge access to care issue.”
According to court documents, the CDHO discipline committee said while its “sympathetic” to Tanase’s personal situation, its “hands are tied by a strong legal rule.”
The committee said it also hopes to see Tanase as an active member of the dental hygiene profession again. After five years, he can apply to have his licence reinstated. Approval for reinstatement is not certain.
In other words, there’s no guarantee whether Tanase will even get his licence back.
Also not certain is when and if the Ontario government will approve the spousal exemption proposed by the CDHO.
Abramson said Tanase’s case is “very unfortunate.”
“It speaks to the gross unfairness in the broad-sweeping nature of the [current], legislation,” Abramson said of Tanase’s conviction.
“Of course, sexual abusers should be stopped…but a dental hygienist loses his licence forever effectively because he treated his wife?” he added. “I have great difficulty with the notion.”
“I’m fighting for over 14,000 dental hygienists in Ontario that can’t provide and want to provide care for their spouse,” Tanase seen here with his wife said. The CDHO has said it hopes to see Tanase as an active member of the dental hygiene profession again. After five years, he can apply to have his licence reinstated.
Since Ontario’s Divisional Court released its decision regarding the case, Tanase has set up a petition, in addition to the crowd funding page to pay his legal bills.
“Six months from now, I’ll probably have to sell my house, and I’ll be forced to pay fees,” he said.
Since Tanase has appealed to the public through social media, he’s heard from many supporters, including some of his former patients.
“I’m really, really thankful for the support and whatever I got so far is beyond expectations,” he said.
“I have patients reaching out, patients I haven’t seen in over a year and a half.”
Tanase has started an online petition drive to aid his reinstatement
“Each regulation submission is subject to prior review by the Minister of Health and approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council. The proposal is currently under review and will be brought forward for the Minister’s consideration at the earliest available opportunity,” the ministry said in a written statement.
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