Uncertified dentists prey on immigrants: college
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Dentists who operate without a licence, sometimes in unsanitary conditions, are targeting newcomers to Canada, says the organization that certifies dentists in Ontario.
Dental work is being done by unlicensed practitioners more often than the public knows, said Irwin Fefergrad, registrar for the Royal College of Dental Surgeons.
He estimated the college gets about half a dozen complaints a year similar to the ones against an Ottawa man arrested in Toronto this week.
'They'll insert themselves into pockets of immigrant communities, operated out of a garage or a kitchen or a basement.' College registrar Irwin Fefergrad
“Every case we've had is with an immigrant patient,” Fefergrad said Tuesday. “I think that they're victimized by unscrupulous, untrained, money-grubbing, unqualified people.”
Gzim Bytyqi, 50, of Ottawa, was charged with counts that include criminal negligence causing bodily harm and fraud under $5,000 after turning himself in to Toronto police on Monday. Police allege Bytyqi operated dental offices in the Gatineau, Que., Ottawa and Toronto areas under the name Dr. Jimmy Connolly even though he was not a licensed dentist.
Det. Glen Emon of the Toronto Police said people seeking dental services need to be careful.
“Well, it's an unfortunate situation where if the price is too good to be true, you know the services are too,” he said.
Fefergrad said an unlicensed dentist will typically take aim at a specific clientele.
“They'll insert themselves into pockets of immigrant communities, operated out of a garage or a kitchen or a basement completely unsanitary,” he said, adding that he thinks the government should raise awareness in immigrant communities in immigrants' own languages.
Victims may blame themselves: settlement worker
Lucila Spigelblatt, who works at the Catholic Immigration Centre in Ottawa, said she doesn't doubt newcomers are targeted by such dentists.
“[If] something goes wrong, they would feel perhaps less inclined to bring up what they had done because they would feel they had some responsibility,” she said.
She added that the centre impresses upon its clients that “speaking up for your rights and seeking redress when something wrong has happened is one of the things you're supposed to do in Canada.”
Ontario's Royal College of Dental Surgeons said the easiest way to check if a dentist is legitimate is to call the college.