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B.C. names five new directors to dentists’ regulatory board

The B.C. government named five new public directors to the board of the College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia on Thursday and said it was taking the "rare and significant step" of launching a review of the administrative and operational practices of the college.

The board – composed of elected members and government-appointed public members – oversees the college, which is the regulatory body for dentists, dental therapists and certified dental assistants in B.C.

The province said the review was in response to a "series of unrelated complaints."

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Read more: College of Dental Surgeons of British Columbia tried to sweep sexually inappropriate comments 'under the rug', report finds

A government spokeswoman was not immediately able to confirm whether those complaints included one made in 2016 by Victoria dentist Rachel Staples against college registrar and chief executive Jerome Marburg.

On Friday, The Globe and Mail began making inquiries about Vancouver lawyer Peter Gall's report into Dr. Staples's allegations against Mr. Marburg. Provincial Health Minister Adrian Dix said he heard of concerns related to the college board that day from a deputy minister. Mr. Dix would not say whether the allegations related to Mr. Marburg were brought to his attention.

"I asked for an assessment to be done of the situation – and had some early discussion of what we would do. And then I determined we needed to dramatically increase the public board membership of the college and add some very strong board members to stabilize it and to ensure that the public interest is protected," Mr. Dix said in an interview with The Globe.

The college said the report was covered by solicitor-client privilege and warned it would take legal action if The Globe reported on the contents of the report.

Mr. Marburg did not respond to requests for comment. His lawyer did not respond to an interview request on the contents of Mr. Gall's report.

As reported on Thursday by The Globe, a report by Mr. Gall found the college "poorly" handled Dr. Staples's allegations of sexually inappropriate comments made by Mr. Marburg.

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Mr. Marburg has consistently denied making the offensive comments. But an independent investigator retained by the college to investigate the complaint concluded that Mr. Marburg made the remarks. In his report, Mr. Gall said, "In my opinion, Dr. Staples is right in saying that the board has attempted to sweep this serious matter under the rug."

Under provincial legislation, the college is required to have at least a third and as much as half its board made up of public members, with no restrictions on the size of the board.

Until recently, the board had 12 elected members and six government-appointed public members. A public member recently left, leaving the board short of its required number.

A government spokeswoman said Mr. Marburg remains registrar and CEO and that "any changes in that respect would be up to the new board to make."

Mr. Dix said he has asked Harry Cayton, chief executive of the United Kingdom's Professional Standards Authority, to conduct the review.

Mr. Cayton is described as a leading expert in the field of professional regulation, with experience that includes a special investigation of Britain's General Dental Council in 2015.

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