Zeinab Merai, Sada al-Mashrek
A Canadian doctor who graduated from McGill University Dental School in May 2017 says he’s been treated very unjustly and has been subjected to great psychological and financial pressure in the last four years.
The doctor has chosen to stay anonymous and go by the name of “Dr Adam”. He recalls, “I took my written examination administered by the National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB) in November 2018. I allegedly failed it with a score of 70%, the passing score being 75%. I took the same written examination a second time in March 2019. I allegedly failed it with a score of 74%, the passing score being 75%.”
And despite repeated requests that different counsels have done on his behalf to get this issue resolved so that he can exercise dentistry normally, especially after having been a straight-A student, procrastination has been the only answer of McGill, NDEB and the court system in Ontario.
Besides, the press has turned a blind eye to Dr Adam, who’s e-mailed CBC and over 200 journalists in hopes of spreading word and pressuring the justice system to reach a just decision as concerns his case. “Dealing with the court has been very disappointing, and I am hoping that with some public pressure the following judges won’t be so dismissive with my case,” says Dr Adam.
Only long-term freelance journalist Stacey Rowan Woensdregt and Sada al-Mashrek have chosen to help spread out his story.
Notably, Sada al-Mashrek will be attending Dr Adam’s hearing in the Court of Appeal for Ontario today, but our request to get permission to write a summary about the hearing has been declined.
Another request has been made by Sada al-Mashrek to get a comment on Dr Adam’s case, but until the publishing of this article, we haven’t heard back from the Court.
Herebelow is the detailed article written and shared with Sada al-Mashrek by journalist Stacey Rowan Woensdregt in support of Dr Adam’s case.
“Allah (SWT) is the one in control at the end. You showed up –Alhamdulillah. I know He is testing us, so whatever is meant to happen will happen,” says Dr Adam.
Dentist Exposes Alleged Malpractice At The National Dental Examining Board of Canada
Opinion: NDEB's Alleged Unfair And Unjust Treatment of AspiringPracticing Dentist Shatters Dreams Of Becoming An Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon
By Stacey Rowan Woensdregt
An aspiring practicing dentist has been thrust into depression and $100,000 debt following the alleged ‘failure’ of his examinations by The National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB) and the subsequent denial of the right to appeal to the Appeals Committee. This follows previous news reports of alleged unfair and unjust treatment of other aspiring dentists.
Dr. Adam [name omitted due to confidentiality], took his Written Examination with NDEB in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Acquiring a 70% examination score in 2018 and a 74% examination score in 2019.
Both times, according to the board’s passing score, he failed. Following on from this, Dr. Adam’s requests to view his examinations, after believing his results were based on concerns to be discussed, remain unresolved with his raw scores still held by the board. Reflecting on the ‘alleged’ examination fail, Dr. Adam stated, “My dream to become an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon in Canada has been shredded into pieces. This has had a tremendous impact on my personal life, besides having to deal with depression, and having spent well over $100,000 so far (for cases against McGill University and the NDEB),” stated Dr. Adam.
He continued, “I have also lost the opportunity to reside in Quebec. In order to reside in Quebec, I need to be a licensed dentist, and this requires me to pass my NDEB's written examination.”
“I had already paid and filed all the paperwork with the Quebec immigration agency and even had a meeting with a Scotiabank employee to acquire information for a business loan for an underserved community dental clinic.”
While Certification Protocols Say One Thing, Student’s Academic
Work Suggests Another
While NDEB’s examination protocols and processes state, “In no circumstances will examinees have access to their examinations or scoresheets,” Dr. Adam believes that, in his case, access should be granted.
A documented performance evaluation form showcases Dr. Adam’s high aptitude, skill, integrity, and interest in learning. Within this document, evaluator information includes the high recommendation of Dr. Adam, who, according to the document, far exceeds all expectations in the learning environment.
“This document proves I was amongst the best of my class and with this questions the alleged failure of my examinations,” states Dr. Adam.
“Another reason why I know I passed my written examination is that the NDEB published released questions on their website and more than half of the actual written examination comes from this question bank.”
Criticisms Come To The Forefront For NDEB
NDEB’s refusal to show his written examinations as well as to release Dr. Adam’s raw score, not only presents Dr. Adam with ongoing legal fees and the inability to acquire his certificate but brings a plethora of criticisms of NDEB’s examination system and their overall treatment of aspiring practicing dentists examining under their institution. Dr. Adam asks, “Why can't dentists view their written examinations when we have already signed a non-disclosure agreement before taking our written examination?” David Cohen [name omitted due to confidentiality], Dr. Adam’s formal counsel, in his written communication to NDEB’s Counsel from Dentons, Suzanne Lee [name omitted due to confidentiality], proposed to keep the written examination material confidential should NDEB provide them with these examinations. However, this proposal was denied.
Another criticism facing NDEB is Dr. Marie Dagenais [Executive Director and Registrar at the National Dental Examining Board of Canada] admittance that she did not submit Dr. Adam’s appeal to the Appeals Committee as, according to Dagenais, they solely deal with the Assessment of Clinical Skills (ACS) Appeals. This is according to legal documents produced by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
Dr. Adam adds, “Dentists who fail the ACS examination are allowed to file an appeal to the Appeals Committee and are allowed to review their submitted typodont. If a dentist fails this examination, he or she will be able to confirm why the grader failed him or her by verifying that he or she was correct (i.e. by verifying his/her typodont).”
Dr. Adam continued, “Here Dr. Dagenais and Suzanne Lee stated that I did not have a right of appeal since the appeals are only for ACS examinations. This is factually incorrect.”
Cross-examination and supporting motions documents also reveal that this is not the case. The Appeals Committee has the right and power to hear any, and all, appeals and is not restricted to only hearing ACS appeals or compassionate appeals.
Within the legal documents, Lee refers to the Appeals Committee as the "ACS" Appeals Committee. Dr Adam, adding to this, states, “In my opinion, the reason she does that is to make it seem like the Appeals Committee is only restricted to hearing appeals of the ACS examination. It is a clever tactic.”
Is Standard Practice Allegedly Curved?
The standard practice places the pass rate for the NDEB examinations at 75%. Dr. Adam’s Counsel emailed the NDEB in 2019 asking the NDEB to clarify a few points stipulated in the initial written communication to the NDEB.
In response, Henry Salvador [name omitted due to confidentiality] , NDEB's counsel from Dentons - the global law firm brought in by NDEB - stated, “The NDEB does not permit the viewing of the Written Examination along with the answer sheets. The NDEB does not release raw scores. The NDEB does not curve or make across-the-board mark adjustments for all candidates.”
The communication continued, “Dr. Dagenais [Dr. Adam’s former Associate Dean of
Academic Affairs and Course Director at McGill University and current Executive Director and Registrar at the National Dental Examining Board of Canada] was not involved in the manual rescores. None of the individuals responsible and involved in the manual rescore have any connection or involvement with the litigation you described between Dr. [Adam] and McGill University."
According to NDEB's 2017 Written Technical report, the written examination is curved and the passing raw score can be as low as 63.8%. Dr. Adam points out, “This proves that the NDEB curves their written examination which is contrary to what Salvador stipulates in his communication.”
Salvador further mentioned in his written communication above, “Dr. Dagenais was not involved in the manual rescores and that none of the individuals responsible and involved in the manual rescore have any connection or involvement with McGill University.” This follows the fact that Dr. Adam sued McGill University for non-related damages before taking his first written national examination administered by the NDEB. With this, Dr. Adam asks, “Why did the NDEB's counsel mention that the NDEB does not curve or make across-the-board mark adjustments for all candidates? Is it possible that they deliberately or unintentionally curved all other candidates except me?” Up until now, these questions remain unanswered by NDEB.
Dr. Adam states, “Best case scenario, they made a clerical error by not curving my written examinations and are trying to hide it. Worst case scenario McGill University contacted Dr. Dagenais and asked her to fail me so that my civil lawsuit against McGill becomes futile.”
“I had previously named Dr. Dagenais as a witness against McGill University (since she was my former Associate Dean of Academic Affairs as well as my Course Director) well before taking my NDEB written examination. In my civil lawsuit against McGill University, McGill University's external counsel (Langlois) argued that my case should be dismissed based on the fact that I failed my written examination with the NDEB.”
He added, “They also added as an exhibit my lawsuit against the NDEB. When I subpoenaed Dr. Dagenais for my civil lawsuit against McGill University, Dentons sent their lawyers to the Superior Court of Montreal and objected to her testifying.”
Dr. Adam further added, “Wouldn’t Dr. Dagenais find it odd that one of her former dental student is failing a national dental board examination twice, especially when he got an A in her class, was amongst the top students in his class, and was admitted to the Dentistry program at McGill University with the highest entrance GPA (i.e. 3.98 out of 4 from UCLA)?”
Legal Proceedings Over A Four-Year Timeline
Dr. Adam’s former counsel David Cohen filed a Fresh As Amended Notice of
Application with the Superior Court of Ontario in 2019. “We basically filed a mandatory interlocutory and permanent injunction asking the NDEB to follow their own by-laws. We asked for a Special Appeal (Article 5.25 of the NDEB's bylaws).”
This course of action was taken because “We wanted to appear even more reasonable and we basically told the court via our injunction that we are willing to have the NDEB Appeals Committee decide on whether or not I passed my written examinations. Having an internal appeal with the NDEB would have allowed me to see my written examinations in order to have a fair appeal,” adds Dr. Adam.
In efforts to avoid the NDEB counterargument and/or the Judge dismissing the Judicial
Review - due to the fact not all internal proceedings were exhausted, Dr. Adam and his
Counsel decided to be reasonable and give power back to the NDEB by asking the Court to order the NDEB to have the appeal heard by the NDEB's Appeals Committee. Two years into the lawsuit, Dr. Adam’s current Counsel, John Smith [name omitted due to confidentiality], emailed Lee in 2021 with the need to file a motion to strike due to stalling of the case. At the time, Dr. Adam had not received responses to questions asked to NDEB, nor had he received clarity on whether or not the scores were raw scores or curved scores, and if the examinations were unaltered or not.
“We had to force the NDEB to file their motion to strike by requesting the Superior Court of Ontario to schedule a case conference. At the case conference, Judge Carole Brown issued an endorsement in September 2021, forcing the NDEB to adhere to a timetable” stated Dr. Adam.
The NDEB, enforced by Brown's endorsement to file their motion to strike with the Superior Court of Ontario, occurred in January 2022. This after two years of filing Dr.
Adam’s injunction with the Superior Court of Ontario.
Dr. Adam and his Counsel responded to NDEB’s motion to strike with the Superior Court of Ontario later in January 2022.
The NDEB won its motion to strike in February 2022. The endorsement was decided by Judge Akbarali after 24 hours, which raised concerns with the case file comprising well over 100 pages and allegedly requiring more time for review.
In June 2022, Dr. Adam and his counsel filed an appeal with the Court of Appeal for Ontario.
Following this, the NDEB filed a motion for Security for Costs asking the Court of Appeal for Ontario for $59,000.
It is alleged that NDEB, at this point, hoped this request would be granted by the court, leading to Dr. Adam’s inability to pay this security cost and ultimately forgoing his right to appeal to the Court of Appeal. This, however, did not happen. “We filed a response to the motion for security for costs in August 2022. The Court of Appeal for Ontario Judge Brown decided to grant the NDEB $18,000 instead of $59,000.”
The very same Judge added, "Dr. [Adam] submits that the amount of security for costs sought by the Board is excessive. I agree. This matter involves a simple, narrow issue the interpretation of the Board's by-laws. The bill of costs submitted by the Board is based on a team of four lawyers working on the appeal. The Board is entitled to pay as many downtown Toronto lawyers as it wants on this appeal, in whatever amount they charge, and the Board is prepared to pay. But, for purposes of determining a reasonable amount of security for costs, proposing a four- lawyer team is litigation overkill in the extreme."
NDEB’s Legal Fees Comes From Taxpayers’ Pockets
According to legal documents, NDEB was established by an Act of Parliament in 1952.
As a private corporation, the NDEB is mandated by the Canadian Federal Government. A formal document reads, ‘The NDEB is the body that administers national examinations for dentists and establishes national standards for the profession. It had annual revenues of $9.79 million in 2021 and retained a surplus of $1.8 million revenue in that same year. According to its Annual Report … over 80%, of NDEB’s revenues are generated by examination fees and assessment fees charged to candidates seeking to become certified as dentists in Canada.’
Until now, according to Dr. Adam, NDEB's cost outline (which includes the cost of Dentons’ first motion) stands at $111,416.52. This does not include Dentons’ costs for the security for costs motion and upcoming appeal fees at the Court of Appeal for Ontario scheduled for December 2022.
Verified information proves that NDEB's revenues come mostly from examinations and candidates' fees. With this, Dr. Adam asks, “Why can't a candidate, who paid for his or her written examination not be allowed to see his or her examination?”
Dr. Adam further ponders the implications on local taxpayers’ income. “At this rate, I believe that the NDEB will be spending well over $200,000 trying to hide my written examinations. I find it outrageous that taxpayers are paying for this. They should know that their hard-earned money is going towards unacceptable legal proceedings. A proceeding in which the NDEB lacks transparency and fairness.”
Dr. Adam further asks, reflecting on NDEB’s alleged malpractice, “Would Canadians want this corporation responsible to assure public safety, to be the last gatekeeper before a dentist could practice?”
A Fight To Bury A Motion Needs To Be Lost By NDEB For All Aspiring
Practicing Dentists To Win
Following a four-year lawsuit, Dr. Adam now believes that the only way to have a remote chance of winning his case is by placing his story under public scrutiny.
“This is a battle that can only be won if the NDEB, as well as the court, are apprised of this story becoming public. We need to hold the NDEB accountable for what they have
(allegedly) been doing. We need transparency and we need fairness. The NDEB's
( alleged) malpractice needs to stop.”
Dr. Adam, through the publication of this article, seeks to help other dentists who may face similar situations.
He concludes, “The NDEB is fighting really hard to bury my motion. If I win, it will help a lot of students and possibly re-open the door for litigations and for dentists that previously failed the written examinations and were not given the right to see their written examinations or given the right to appeal their failed written examination to the Appeals Committee. This is why the NDEB is willing to spend an unlimited amount of resources on my case. They do not want me to open this door.”
This is an ongoing story.
More updates to follow as the story progresses.
[At the time of publication, the National Dental Examining Board of Canada was unavailable to comment and stayed strong on their refusal to release Dr Adam’s raw score as well as not allowing him to see his examinations]
*Formal exhibits are available on request.*