In 2011, the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) became essentially a federation of Canadian provincial and territorial dental associations (PDAs). The members of CDA are the 10 PDAs that have joined CDA as what we call Corporate Members. The Quebec Dental Surgeons Association (QDSA) has chosen not to support CDA and therefore is not one of our Corporate Members. In the province of Quebec, individual dentists can join CDA as affiliate (individual) members upon paying an annual fee.

As part of this evolution, CDA has changed its mandate and has eliminated most of the programs and services aimed at individual dentists. In serving its Corporate Members, CDA has become a source of information and knowledge, primarily in the areas of science and clinical dentistry. CDA continues to play a role in other areas where the issues are interprovincial or where economies of scale make it logical for CDA to run certain programs. CDA delivers these programs to individual dentists through the Corporate Members.

Currently, membership in the PDAs is automatic in all but the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. With the Ontario Dental Association (ODA) being a Corporate Member of CDA, dentists in Ontario who join the ODA have access to the programs and services of CDA. In the province of Quebec, dentists have to join CDA to access its programs and services because, as noted above, QDSA is not a Corporate Member of CDA.

CDA's activities center mostly on knowledge and advocacy.

Knowledge — CDA acts as a knowledge broker to facilitate consensus on the issues that directly affect the profession. CDA captures, organizes and disseminates the relevant knowledge and information to Corporate Members and key stakeholders.

Advocacy — influencing outcomes that protect, promote and advance the dental profession, the CDA's primary tools are government relations, media relations and public education.

Through its committees and participation on international bodies, CDA collects, analyses and disseminates information to help dentists make informed decisions about the delivery of patient care. On behalf of Canadian dentists, CDA advocates for better access to dental care for Canadians and to promote dentistry as a heath care profession.

In addition to providing services for dentists, CDA also operates programs aimed at the public including:

  • Consumer Product Recognition (CPR) program – the CPR Seal of Recognition that appears on consumer products such as toothpaste is designed to help the public make informed choices.
  • Dental Aptitude Test (DAT) program – the DAT is designed to help students assess their aptitude for a career in dentistry and to assist dental schools in selecting first-year students.

These activities are intended to meet a public purpose and accrue to all members collectively. They may also involve investigations, conciliations or the need to resolve issues of particular concern to Corporate Members and the profession as a whole. As is typical with virtually all associations, the benefit of our efforts accrues to the profession as a whole, and to the public, not just our members.

Conclusion

The change to the new membership model, which was accompanied by a new governance model, is aimed at creating a more efficient organization. It is designed to eliminate duplication and redundancy and to encourage cooperation among the PDAs. While the new CDA is a smaller organization and while it has eliminated a number of programs and services, its mandate remains the same: The Canadian Dental Association is the national voice for dentistry dedicated to the promotion of optimal oral health, an essential component of general health, and to the advancement and leadership of a unified profession.

An Invitation to Quebec Dentists

The QDSA has chosen not to support CDA and therefore is not one of our Corporate Members. In the province of Quebec, individual dentists can join CDA as affiliate (individual) members upon paying an annual fee.

Join now — Join online or download the enrolment form and mail or fax it to CDA.