Labour mobility refers to the freedom of workers to practice their occupation wherever opportunities exist. In Canada achieving labour mobility requires a complex series of negotiation and agreements within the parameters of conflicting federal and provincial laws.
Labour mobility is important for two reasons. The first is because Canadians move around a lot. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people across Canada relocate to a different part of the country and look for work. Thousands more cross provincial boundaries to find jobs without relocating. The latest census shows that between 2001 and 2006 1,738,261 Canadians moved to another province and another 1,109,980 immigrants came to Canada. Without a sensible approach to labour mobility all of these migrant workers risk being caught in endless tangles of red tape.
The second reason labour mobility is important is that it is a fundamental right. As a citizen you are entitled to earn a living in any part of Canada, free from undue restriction. Section 6 of the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms, entitled “Mobility Rights” reads “Every citizen of Canada and every person who has the status of a permanent resident of Canada has the right to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province, subject to any laws or practices of general application in force in a province other than those that discriminate among persons primarily on the basis of province of present or previous residence.” In short, without justification you cannot be denied the right to work as a dental assistant anywhere in Canada.
In Canada, regulation of professions and licensed occupations falls under provincial jurisdiction. Provincial laws exist to ensure that nobody’s health is put at risk by unskilled practitioners. Licensing authorities have the right under provincial statute to restrict access to the profession and review the credentials of anyone claiming to be qualified to work as a professional.
In addition to the variety in scope of practice, the way in which dental assisting is regulated also complicates labour mobility. There are nearly as many provincial regulatory structures as provinces in Canada. Some are self-regulated while others fall under the supervision of the dental authority. All regulated provinces require that all applicants for initial registration have successfully completed the NDAEB written examination and for those applicants that are graduates of non accredited programs, a clinical practice evaluation is required. In Ontario and Quebec there are no requirements for licensure, yet in Ontario only those holding the NDAEB certificate are allowed to practice Level II dental assisting.
In contrast to our own profession, dentists and hygienists enjoy similar regulatory structures that are nearly identical from province to province. Practitioners must graduate from an accredited program and pass an exam. Dental assisting evolved much differently. For most of the past 100 years our profession was unregulated. Our duties were limited to chairside assisting. With the addition, over the past 25-30 years, of intra-oral duties, the need for some form of controlled access to the profession became necessary. However, intra-oral skills were introduced at different times in different provinces with widely different levels of support from the dental regulatory authorities. As a result we have at least eight different regulatory models with a wide variety of duties (see ‘Regulatory’ chart).
|Regulated||Regulatory Authority||Accredited Preferred||NDAEB Certificate Required||Non-Accredited Applicant Requirements|
NDAEB= National Dental Assisting Examining Board written exam CPE= Clinical Practice Exam (NDAEB)
In 2008 the Dental Assisting Regulatory Authorities in Canada, the Ontario Dental Assistants Association and the Association des Assistant(es) Dentaires due Quebec signed the mutual recognition agreement for Level II dental assisting for the purpose of Labour Mobility.
DARA Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA): View this document for complete details of the agreement.