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Complaints & Discipline

Frequently Asked Questions About the Professional Conduct Complaint Process

The role of the CRDHA includes regulating the professional conduct of dental hygienists in Alberta. If you have a concern about a dental hygienist, you may make a complaint to the CRDHA. The complaint will be dealt with in accordance with the process set out in the Health Professions Act, which governs the CRDHA.


How do I make a complaint?

A complaint about the professional conduct of a dental hygienist may be submitted, in writing, to the CRDHA Complaints Director.

The complaint must name the dental hygienist and must be signed by you. The complaint should provide details about the behaviour in question, including dates, times, and locations. It should also include any documents or other evidence that support your complaint.

If you wish to discuss the complaint process or make a complaint, please contact:

Valerie Hill, Complaints Director
College of Registered Dental Hygienists of Alberta
302, 8657 – 51 Avenue
Edmonton AB  T6E 6A8

Telephone: (780) 465-1756 Fax: (780) 440-0544
Toll Free (Alberta): 1-877-465-1756

What happens after I make a complaint?
After you submit a written complaint, you will be referred to as the complainant and the dental hygienist will be referred to as the investigated person.

The Complaints Director has a number of options for how to proceed, depending on the circumstances of the complaint. You will be advised of the action to be taken within 30 days after the Complaints Director receives your complaint.

After receiving a complaint, the Complaints Director may:

(a) encourage you and the investigated person to communicate with each other and resolve the complaint,
(b) attempt to resolve the complaint, with your consent and the consent of the investigated person,
(c) refer the complaint to an alternative complaint resolution process,
(d) ask an expert to assess the subject matter of the complaint and provide a written report,
(e) conduct or appoint an investigator to conduct an investigation,
(f) dismiss the complaint,
(g) direct the investigated person to undergo certain physical or mental examinations, if the Complaints Director believes the investigated person may be incapacitated.

If the Complaints Director dismisses the complaint before conducting an investigation, the Complaints Director will advise you of the decision within 30 days. You may have this decision reviewed by a complaint review committee. The right to apply for a review is discussed further below.
What happens during an investigation?
If the Complaints Director decides to conduct an investigation, the Complaints Director will advise you and will usually give the investigated person the name of the investigator and reasonable particulars of the complaint to be investigated. This means that if you have filed a complaint, the Complaints Director will give the investigated person information about that complaint. In most cases, it will not be possible to keep your complaint confidential.

The investigator will interview everyone who might have information about the complaint. The investigator will also review any documents that may be relevant.

After the investigation is complete, the investigator will make a report, and the Complaints Director will either:

(a) refer the complaint to a hearing, or
(b) dismiss the complaint, if
     (i) the complaint is trivial or vexatious, or
     (ii) there is insufficient or no evidence of unprofessional conduct.

The Complaints Director will notify you in writing of the action taken.
How long does the investigation process take?
It depends on the nature of the complaint. The review and investigation of a complaint can take three months or longer.
What if I disagree with the Complaints Director’s decision to dismiss the complaint?
If your complaint has been dismissed, you may apply to the Hearings Director for a review. Your application for a review must be in writing and must provide reasons for your request. You must complete the request within 30 days of being advised that your complaint was dismissed.

The CRDHA’s Complaint Review Committee will review the decision to dismiss the complaint. Both you and the investigated person will be given an opportunity to make submissions to the Complaint Review Committee.

The Complaints Review Committee may:

(a) refer the complaint to a hearing,
(b) direct a further investigation, or
(c) confirm that the complaint is dismissed.
What happens if my complaint is referred for a hearing?
If a complaint is referred to a hearing, the Hearings Director will set a hearing date and provide you and the investigated person with notice of the date, time, and location of the hearing. Hearings are open to the public unless the Hearing Tribunal orders otherwise.

The purpose of the hearing is to ensure that the Hearing Tribunal has enough information to decide if the conduct of the investigated person does or does not constitute unprofessional conduct. As the complainant, you may be called as a witness, but you will not make submissions on your own behalf.

If the Hearing Tribunal finds that there has been unprofessional conduct, it can do one or more of the following: 

(a) caution or reprimand the investigated person;
(b) impose conditions on the investigated person’s practice permit,
(c) require the investigated person to satisfy the Hearing Tribunal that she/he is not incapacitated,
(d) require counselling or a treatment program, 
(e) require a course of study, 
(f) suspend or cancel the investigated person’s practice permit, 
(g) impose fines, or 
(h) make any other appropriate order.

You and the investigated person will receive a copy of the decision.

Will I receive financial compensation?
No. The professional conduct process in the Health Professions Act is intended to determine whether or not a dental hygienist’s conduct is unprofessional. The Hearing Tribunal does not have the power to award monetary damages to a complainant. If you are seeking financial compensation from a dental hygienist, you may need to contact a lawyer.