“Forget It, Jake, It’s Canada!”: The Craziest Ethics Ruling Ever!


Alexandru Tanase, a Canadian dental hygienist, has been stripped of his license because he violated an ethics regulation forbidding sexual relations between dental hygienists and their patients even if they are married. Many professionals have such ethics prohibitions, including lawyers. Tanase’s patient in this case, however, was his wife.

The College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario felt that a disciplinary hearing was necessary following a complaint against Tanase made by a jerk of a colleague who had read a Facebook post from Tanase’s wife about the care he had provided her.  It wasn’t the first time: they had become romantically involved after Tanase had learned that she had neglected her teeth for years out of fear, and agreed to provide free in-office treatment as a kindness. This was in 2012; by 2014, the platonic friendship had turned to  love, and they later became man and wife. Because of Ontario’s no-sex-with-dental-hygiene-patients rule, Tanase had stopped cleaning her teeth around this time. Ontario enacted the zero-tolerance policy in 1993 to protect patients from sexual exploitation, and under the (lazy and stupidly written) law, mutual consent creates no exceptions.

Another hygienist  at a clinic where Tanase was employed told him that dental hygienists were allowed to treat their spouses. He was mistaken, though I would have believed him: why wouldn’t they be?  But although the College had approved a spousal exemption in September of 2015, the Ontario legislature never formally adopted the rule. It had approved   a spousal exemption for dentists, however.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse, though, as the maxim goes (though mistake of law can be), so when the confused hygienist began treating his wife in 2016, he was  unknowingly breaching an ethics mandate. Thus, after the complaint, the discipline committee ruled that it had no choice but to hold  that Tanase had violated the ban on sexual relations with a patient and was  subject to mandatory license revocation for at least five years. Stunned and angry, Tanase then appealed to the courts, arguing the law violated his constitutional rights.

The court noted that there was a previous case in which the College took no action against a female hygienist who treated her husband, and expressed puzzlement that this precedent hadn’t been followed.  The court also observed that it was odd  that dentists can ethically treat their spouses  but hygienists are regarded as sexual abusers if they do the same.

Odd is not the word I’d use.

Nevertheless, the judges ruled the license revocation and the stigma of having the specifics of poor Tanase’s  discipline posted on the college’s public website were not   cruel or unusual punishment by constitutional standards—even though the court had acknowledged that the punishment was unusual, indeed unprecedented.  “There is no other case of any dental hygienist anywhere in Canada who has been found guilty of sexual abuse for treating his wife,” the court said. “It is indeed unfortunate that the (discipline committee) elected to proceed with the complaint.” However, it concluded, current law and previous legal decisions upholding the validity of the mandatory punishment for a violation of the no-sex rule prevented a reversal.

“Unless and until the Ontario government approves the regulation put forward by the College of Dental Hygienists to enact a spousal exemption, the mandatory revocation and ancillary relief imposed by the discipline committee as they pertain to spouses must be upheld,” the panel said.

The villains of this utter fiasco are, in order of despicableness, the hygienist who reported Tanase out of meanness or malice, the College’s disciplinary board for not having the common sense and decency to refuse to act on the complaint, and the Ontario legislature for not fixing an obvious error, and indeed a trap, in the law.

The court cannot be faulted for upholding the law as written, though many judges, especially in the U.S., would have found some way to prevent this clear miscarriage of justice.

As for Tanase, he did nothing wrong at all. He and his wife should move to the United States.

10 thoughts on ““Forget It, Jake, It’s Canada!”: The Craziest Ethics Ruling Ever!

  1. Is his next step to claim that he is being discriminated against based on his gender, as no action was taken against a female hygienist who did the same thing?

    I would say clearly there is more to this story. Someone, or some people, do not like him for some reason. Might not be anything he did, but to have someone file a complaint, and then have it acted on, you would think there is more to it.

  2. I think he should have stated that he and his wife have a platonic non sexual marriage. (unless they have a kid, in which case, the evidence speaks for itself.)

    Or maybe he just says that they had a fight in Dec 2015 and since she was withholding sex for 4 years as punishment, it was fine for him to treat her.

    • “… prove we were having sex while I was providing treatment…”

      There is no way this cannot be gotten around. If they had a kid, are the accusers going to force a paternity test? Even then, artificial insemination could be responsible.

      Make the bastard WORK to cause you trouble.

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