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(ended 12 July 2017)

Invitation to Comment on Proposed Amendments to Bylaw 12 – Advertising & Promotional Activities

Posted 11 April 2017

The College of Dental Surgeons of BC has posted amendments to Part 12 of its bylaws dealing with advertising and promotional activities.

The proposed changes are presented as a red-lined version of the current Bylaw Part 12 and as a clean version. The consultation period is open until 12 July 2017.

Read the proposed amendments to Bylaw 12 (red-lined version)

Read the proposed amendments to Bylaw 12 (clean version)

Note: this consultation invites feedback only on those sections of Bylaw 12 for which changes are proposed.


The Health Professions Act empowers the Board to make bylaws that regulate and prohibit advertising and promotional activity by registrants.

The CDSBC Bylaw dealing with advertising and promotional activities was approved by the Board in June 2015 and came into force in October 2016. This version of the Bylaw was the result of much deliberation by the CDSBC Board and the Ethics Committee, two rounds of consultation with registrants and stakeholders, and consideration of external legal advice.

One of the goals of Bylaw 12 – rooted in the College's mandate of public protection – was to address the general public's confusion about the professional titles that had proliferated in the advertising of some dental offices.

The bylaw strives to balance legitimate promotional interests with reasonable limits to prevent the public from being misled or confused.

Key Changes

The proposed changes are limited to qualifications, continuing dental education, titles and designations as laid out in sections 12.08 – 12.11.

The proposed changes apply to references to university degrees, dental-related titles, designations, certificates, certifications, associations, registrations, honours, memberships, diplomas, or any other dental-related referenced derived from or conferred through either their continuing education activities or granted, conferred, or awarded through any other means.

Under the current bylaw, these references are restricted or prohibited entirely. The proposed change allows for them to be made, provided that they are in unabbreviated form and include the year, the jurisdiction, and the name of the granting organization.


The College recognizes that policy documents are "living documents" that need to be reflected upon periodically in light of changing legal and social context. The College continues to receive feedback on Bylaw 12. In the time since the bylaw was first approved, the Board reflected on comments that have argued for increased limits (re: qualifications, titles, designations, etc.) and those that have argued for removing them altogether, all while considering the underlying public protection objective of the bylaw.

The public expects clear, understandable and verifiable information about healthcare providers. The public and the profession have consistently expressed concerns with advertising and promotional activities that are confusing and misleading. These factors argue for constraining advertising and promotional activities.

On the other hand, the ability for dentists to advertise and promote themselves and their services is a legitimate commercial interest that also deserves consideration. Restrictions that limit expression can invite a legal challenge under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Restrictions on expression must strike a careful balance between competing interests.

The proposed changes to Bylaw 12 address concerns about limits on registrants' freedom of expression while remaining loyal to the public protection objectives of the existing bylaw.

The public remains protected by the assurance that information presented by registrants in advertising and promotional materials is complete enough to allow the public to understand what is being stated about a dentist's qualifications and to make informed choices.

What the Changes Mean

The proposed changes will provide registrants with increased flexibility in referring to their qualifications, continuing dental education, titles and designations in their advertising and promotional activities. By requiring the information provided to be complete and descriptive, these changes protect the public by limiting confusion about professional titles in dentistry. The public also benefits from more information about their dentist's professional background being available.

How to Submit Feedback

Feedback must be received no later than 12 July 2017 and can be submitted to:

Ministry of HealthCollege of Dental Surgeons of BC

By email / online

online feedback form

Attention: Executive Director, Professional Regulation & Oversight Branch

By email

Include "Bylaw 12" in the subject line 

By mail

Ministry of Health, Health Sector 
Workforce Division
1515 Blanshard Street
PO Box 9649 Stn Prov Govt,
Victoria B.C. V8W 9P4

By mail

c/o Registrar's Office
500 – 1765 West 8th Avenue,
Vancouver B.C. V6J 5C6

Consultation and Next Steps

CDSBC's registrants, partner organizations, other dental professionals and members of the public are invited to comment on the proposed changes to Bylaw 12.

Notice of this amendment has been provided to the Minister of Health, and regulatory colleges of other health professions in the province as required by section 19 (6.2) of the Health Professions Act.

The Board and the Ethics Committee will review and consider all submissions received during the consultation period. If approved, the amendment will be filed with the Ministry of Health.

Revised Interpretive Guidelines will be produced by the Ethics Committee, should the proposed amendment be approved.