Earlier this year, we asked for your feedback about our draft Standards of Practice. We added criteria to address female genital mutilation (FGM) in response to the Health Professions (Protecting Women and Girls) Amendment Act, 2022 (formerly Bill 10). Council approved the changes and they took effect on May 31, 2023.
Thank you to everyone who took time to review our draft and offer feedback.
What we heard was that our draft changes were clear and easy to understand. As a result, we made no further changes.
However, we also heard that you were wondering why we were adding standards to address female genital mutilation when it is unlikely that dental assistants would encounter it during their practice.
Why We Are Addressing FGM
Through their Health Professions (Protecting Women and Girls) Amendment Act, 2022, the Alberta Government is protecting Albertans from FGM. The Amendment Act requires that all health regulatory colleges, including ours, has standards of practice in place to address FGM.
The Government’s minimum requirements that all colleges must address are:
- regulated health professionals must not procure or perform female genital mutilation
- regulated health professionals must report if they believe another regulated health professional has procured or performed female genital mutilation
The Government understands that some health professions, like dental assisting, are very unlikely to be a part of FGM or have any knowledge of it happening. While all health professions’ standards must meet the minimum requirements, we may address FGM in a way that fits with how we interact with patients and the health services we provide.
The Government reviewed our draft Standards of Practice. They found that our draft meets the minimum requirements and is appropriate to dental assistants’ practice.
Adopting our Standards of Practice to address FGM is the right thing to do. It protects Albertans and promotes safe, quality health care from all health professionals.
How We Are Addressing FGM
To meet Government’s requirements, we added criteria to Standard 3 and 16. We also added a definition of female genital mutilation to our glossary to help make our expectations clear.
Standard 3 Patient-Centred Practice
We added “must not procure or perform female genital mutilation” to the criteria for placing patients’ well-being first.
Standard 16 Additional Reporting Requirements
In Standard 16, we made two changes:
- In the existing criteria, a housekeeping change to clarify that dental assistants must report sexual abuse or sexual misconduct by a regulated member of any college to the Complaints Director of the college of that regulated member.
- We added criteria to require dental assistants to report if a regulated member of any college is procuring or performing female genital mutilation. The dental assistant must report to the Complaints Director of the college of that regulated member.
Glossary of Terms
We added a definition of female genital mutilation as it applies to our Standards of Practice.
FGM involves the injury to or partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons and can cause life-long health problems. It is classified as aggravated assault in the Criminal Code of Canada.
The Health Professions (Protecting Women and Girls) Amendment Act, 2022, came into effect on May 31, 2022. It better protects the health and safety of Albertans by strengthening existing laws that ban FGM in Alberta. It amended the Health Professions Act to prevent health professionals from performing, offering or facilitating FGM. If a health professional is convicted of procuring or performing FGM in Alberta, they will be removed from practice. Further, anyone convicted of procuring or performing FGM in another province or country will not be allowed to practice in Alberta.
One of the outcomes of the Amendment Act is all health profession colleges having standards to address FGM by May 31, 2023. By adopting our revised Standards of Practice, we are being a responsible, ethical regulator. We support Government’s efforts to protect Albertans from FGM and ensure they receive safe, quality health care.