‘A step forward’: Dental hygienist who lost licence for treating wife allowed to practice for now

Alexandru Tanase (pictured left) was branded as a sexual abuser after cleaning his wife's (pictured right) teeth. Provided by Alexandru Tanase

An Ontario dental hygienist who lost his licence for treating his wife’s teeth is allowed to practice pending his case going through the Court of Appeal.

“It’s a step forward, but knowing that a potential judgment can take it all back again, it’s not a victory,” Alexandru Tanase told Global News.

In September, Ontario’s Divisional Court released its decision to uphold the College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario’s (CDHO) discipline committee’s decision to revoke Tanase’s licence after he treated his wife’s teeth.

In Ontario, it’s considered professional misconduct if a dental hygienist has “sexually abused a patient.” According to the Regulated Health Professions Act, sexual abuse includes any sexual intercourse or other types of sexual relations.

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Consent is irrelevant, and a spouse is included in the definition of a patient.

“A stay of the revocation of his licence has been granted, which means that he’s permitted to practice,” Seth Weinstein, Tanase’s lawyer, told Global News.

Weinstein said he filed a leave application with the Court of Appeal on Sept. 27 and that an application for the stay on Tanase’s previous order was filed earlier this week.

“I was hopeful that the stay would be granted, so I’m obviously thrilled for Alex that he’s permitted to practice and to do what he loves to do, which is to treat patients,” Weinstein said.

“I’m obviously hoping for the court to reconsider its previous rulings.”

Click to play video: 'Ontario dental hygienist who lost licence for treating wife speaks out'
Ontario dental hygienist who lost licence for treating wife speaks out

Since the Divisional Court’s decision, Tanase has spoken out about his case. He said the support he’s received so far has been overwhelming.

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“It moves me to tears, and I choke when I read comments and messages,” Tanase said.

“I have people adding me, people that I don’t know, and they feel my pain.”

In 2015, the CDHO council approved a regulation to exempt spouses from the sexual abuse provisions, but it hasn’t been passed as law yet in Ontario.

Tanase started a petition for his case, which has garnered over 11,500 signatures, in addition to a GoFundMe page to help him pay fees.

“It’s not just me [who believes] that this spousal exemption should be granted, should be approved. There’s thousands of people,” Tanase said.

“The law is important and has to protect clients and spouses against sexual abuse, but at this point, there was no sexual abuse.”

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Weinstein said his and Tanase’s next step is to file their argument for leave to appeal.

“We have to file the written argument with the court, and then only if the court agrees to grant us leave to appeal will they then give us a date for oral argument.”

Tanase said he will return to work at his old office on Tuesday.

“It was a huge relief, but given the fact that I already went through this once, I’m still reserved,” Tanase said of the news that he’s able to practice.

“It’s a huge burden to live [my] life with this charge on my name and not having anything guaranteed, it gives you false hope.”

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