News From the College
Consumer Safety and
Cosmetic Contact Lenses
Competition Bureau Article July 26, 2018
The College of Optometrists of Ontario and the College of Opticians of Ontario firmly believe the internet can be an effective tool for dispensing prescription eyewear, enhancing access and convenience in line with patient demands. Furthermore, the Colleges agree that a free and competitive market for corrective eyewear is in the public interest and are aligned with the Competition Bureau in wanting to ensure that patients have as many options as can be safely provided for in how they access their eye care. To that end both Colleges have already established protocols for Ontario optometrists and opticians using the internet to safely care for their patients.
Our court action is focused squarely on ensuring Ontario patients receive appropriate eye health care regardless of where they purchase their corrective eyewear, be that online or a physical retail location. There are provincial laws in place in Ontario to protect Ontarians' eye health that require a regulated health professional's involvement in the prescribing and dispensing of corrective lenses. Unfortunately, this is not occurring with the BC-based retailer involved in our claim, which we believe is in violation of the law and putting patients' eye health at risk.
Rest assured, our Colleges are in no way attempting to prevent online ordering or purchasing of eyewear nor will this court action halt patient access to eyewear online. There are many eyewear retailers in Ontario already using the internet to provide their patients with safe, effective, and affordable eyewear, including refills for contact lenses, in accordance with the provincial laws governing eye health care.
Our eye health is an important aspect of our overall health and well-being. Improperly fitted glasses can lead to eyestrain, double vision and headaches. Improperly fitted contact lenses pose an even greater risk and can cause sight-threatening injury, such as corneal ulcers and infection. Children are at particular risk and often suffer from low self-esteem, frustration, poor literacy and headaches and wearing improperly prescribed or dispensed eyewear can lead to permanent vision development issues.
As the regulators for the professions of optometry and opticianry, our role is to ensure the utmost standard of eye health care is upheld for Ontarians and without a licensed individual involved in the process, there is no mechanism by which the Colleges can ensure that any standard of care is provided at all.
As patients we expect and require health professionals to be involved in all other facets of health care, from the prescribing and dispensing of drugs to hearing aids. Why should your eye health be held to a lower standard?
A copy of the article can be found here
Essilor has appealed the January 11, 2018 decision of Justice Lederer which ordered that it may not dispense prescription eyewear in Ontario unless the dispensing is performed by an optometrist, optician or physician who is licenced to practice in Ontario. The appeal is scheduled to be heard on September 21, 2018. The Court of Appeal granted Essilor's request to stay Justice Lederer's order until the appeal is determined. This means that Essilor can continue their "business as usual" until its appeal is heard and decided. If the appeal is dismissed, Justice Lederer's order will go into effect.
In an effort to protect Ontario patients, the College of Opticians in partnership with the College of Optometrists of Ontario initiated a legal proceeding against Essilor Group of Canada Inc./Clearly. Essilor is the company that owns and operates the online entity Clearly. The Colleges were concerned that Essilor/Clearly have been dispensing prescription eyewear via their website to patients in Ontario without the direct involvement of an optician, optometrist, or physician who is licensed to practice in Ontario. This is a violation of provincial law.
The College of Opticians and the College of Optometrists jointly filed an application in December of 2016 and the matter was heard October 11, 2017. Justice Lederer delivered his decision on January 11, 2018 in favor of the two regulatory colleges.
Although the Colleges are still reviewing the decision in detail, they are pleased that the court has agreed with the position of the two Colleges on the questions we brought forward. The two Colleges are motivated by and required by legislation to maintain patient safety and to act in the public interest.
In the event of an appeal, the Colleges will continue to defend the public interest in court. The Colleges believe that the internet can be an effective tool for the provision of vision care.
However, the dispensing of corrective lenses is a controlled act, subject to Ontario legislation, that definitively requires a regulated health professional's involvement. Mail order over the internet without the involvement of an optometrist or optician is inconsistent with legislation.
The role of the Colleges is to regulate the practice of optometry and opticianry in order to maintain and enhance public safety. The Colleges support increased access to care for the patient, whether it be via the internet or any other method that as long as legislation and regulations are respected, and standards are met ensuring patient safety.
Click here to view the findings (PDF)
Annual Report 2017
The 2017 Annual Report is now available for
viewing and downloading in PDF format.
Upcoming Council Meetings
January 28 and 29, 2019
Monday May 27, 2019
Monday October 7, 2019
Monday December 2 and 3, 2019
Location: College of Opticians of Ontario, 90 Adelaide Street West, Suite 300, Toronto, ON
All are welcome to attend College Council meetings either in person or via webinar. The agenda and meeting materials will be available the week before a meeting. If you would like to attend, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
December 2017 It's hard to believe that we are coming to the end of another year. Saying that 2017 brought significant changes at the college I believe would be an understatement. ...
Click here to read to entire Presidents Message
The College is seeking feedback from the public on these important issues concerning by-law amendments. The Survey portal will be open until the close of business day on December 19th. The College is looking for stakeholder feedback on:
Bill 87: How does it affect you?
On May 30, 2017, Bill 87, the Protecting Patients Act, received royal assent by the Ontario government and significantly amended the Regulated Health Professions Act (RHPA).
click here for complete details.
Call for Appointed (Non-Council) Optician Members
The College of Opticians of Ontario (the College) is now accepting applications from optician members to serve as Appointed (non-Council) Members. Appointments are for a two year term from January 1 2018 to December 31 2019.
click here for complete details.
On May 30, 2016 Council approved amendments to the College by-laws that resulted in clearer and consistent language throughout the by-laws, sets out an updated registration fees schedule for all classes of registration, and amends articles dealing with Council and committee member obligations and committee composition and appointment and procedures. Please click here to access a summary document highlighting the amendments. If you have any questions relating to these amendments or the by-laws in general please send your inquiry to email@example.com.
Click here to view the amended College by-laws.
New Registration Policies
At its May 30, 2016 meeting, Council approved two new registration policies. The Non-Practising Status Policy addresses members who are not practising but who wish to maintain their registration with the College. The Non-Practising Status Policy can be reviewed here. If you wish to change your status to non-practising, complete an Undertaking Form and submit it to the College.
The Retiring or Resigning Policy provides guidance to members who wish to retire or resign their certificate of registration. The Retiring or Resigning from the College Policy can be reviewed here. If you wish to resign your certificate of registration, please complete a Resignation Form and submit it to the College. If you wish to retire from the profession, please complete a Retirement Form and submit it to the College.
If you have any questions or require further information on either registration policy, please contact the College’s registration team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ANSI Standard Z80.1- 2015 Available to all Ontario Opticians
An updated ANSI Dress Standard is now being made available by the College to all members at no charge. In adherence to the College’s mandate to reduce its environmental impact and to be mindful of operational costs, the College is providing all optician members with one copy of the ANSI Standard Z80.1-2010 free of charge electronically via email.
Please click here for instructions on how to access your free electronic copy.
Update on the Clinic Regulation Project
After the public consultation ended, the Clinic Regulation Working Group met in February 2016 to consider next steps for the project. In their discussion, the Working Group considered the objectives of the project, what was learned from the stakeholder feedback, and the current policy environment.
The Working Group came to a consensus decision to make a submission to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The submission will bring awareness to the gap in public protection that currently exists, discuss alternative solutions, and call on the Ministry to take action to address the gap. The Working Group is not advocating for a particular solution or model and recognizes that more work is required to explore the issue and find the most appropriate solution for Ontario.
A draft submission has been prepared, and it will go to the Councils of all of the Working Group colleges for their approval. The Working Group anticipates making the submission to government in summer 2016. We’ll be sure to post the submission at that time, so please check back in for more updates.
Jurisprudence Tool Update
The purpose of the Jurisprudence tool is to help registered opticians acquire knowledge about the laws, standards, and guidelines that affect opticianry in Ontario. As part of the College's Quality Assurance (QA) program, all registered opticians must successfully complete Chapter 1: Professional Boundaries and Sexual Abuse Prevention of the tool every three years.
The College of Opticians is pleased to advise that a second chapter of the Jurisprudence Tool is now available for opticians on our website. Chapter 2: Record Keeping, Confidentiality and Privacy is optional, and members are not required to submit proof of completion to the College.
Members may wish to use Chapter 2: Record Keeping, Confidentiality and Privacy toward their self- directed Quality Assurance requirements. Once a member completes the module, they can download a completion certificate that they may use as proof of 2 hours of self-directed continuing education, once every three years. To do so, members must record the activity on Form 3 of their Professional Portfolio and ensure a learning goal is created that is connected to this activity.
The Jurisprudence Tool consists of a handbook and an online multiple choice test.
Adverse Event Report
Canadian eye care regulators are collecting data for a study that reviews the number of adverse incidences for patients that use the services of a regulated eye care professional as well as those patients who have sought their eyewear through unregulated sources. This report is not a punitive exercise but rather an attempt at gathering current data regarding risk of harm. This form is not a vehicle to report misconduct or unauthorized practice. If you wish to file a formal complaint or to report unauthorized practice, please visit the complaints process page. The Adverse Event Report can be found here.
Updated Standards of Practice
On September 28, 2015 Council approved new Professional Standards of Practice for Opticians in the Province of Ontario and an accompanying Guidelines document. The Standards have been updated to reflect current practices, including a new section on utilizing websites and other technology. Revisions were also made to the eyeglass and contact lens dispensing section, safety eyewear, record keeping and infection control.
Please click here to view the new Standards of Practice.
Duty to Report – Suspected Cases of Child Abuse
The Child and Family Services Act (CFSA) recognizes that the public, including professionals who work with children, must promptly report any suspicions that a child is or may be in need of protection directly to a children’s aid society. This is referred to as one’s “duty to report”.
The CFSA states that people working closely with children have a special awareness of the signs of child abuse or neglect, and a particular responsibility to report their suspicions. Under the Act, persons who perform professional or official duties with respect to children include health care professionals (e.g., physicians, respiratory therapists, opticians), teachers and social workers, among others.
Professionals should never hesitate to report suspected child abuse or neglect. It is their legal duty to make a report to a children’s aid society where they have reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is or may be in need of protection.
Please click here to view the full correspondence from the Ministry of Child and Youth Services.
Court affirms professional standards can govern refraction, refuses to endorse optician's business model
In a decision released in January 2015, the Ontario Superior Court affirmed the enforceability of professional standards governing refraction. The matter was brought to the Court by an Ontario optician, who wanted the Court to declare that his business model was compliant with Ontario laws governing eye care professionals. In denying the optician's application, the Court affirmed that regulatory bodies can enforce professional standards, such as the College of Opticians of Ontario's standards for refraction. These standards do not have to be made through government-approved regulations. The College of Opticians acted as an intervenor in this case, providing assistance to the Court regarding the standards of practice for opticianry in Ontario. Click here to read the full communication from the College as well as the Court's decision
Mandatory Reinstatement – Members Dispensing Under Delegation
In April of 2014, the College of Optometrists of Ontario amended its Professional Misconduct Regulation. There are several significant changes that help in fostering a greater degree of inter-professional collaboration. In particular, optometrists are no longer prohibited from hiring opticians, and optometrists are no longer prohibited from practising in association with opticians as long as they remain independent.
In view of these changes, the College of Opticians would like to inform its suspended members who are working either with or for an optometrist or medical doctor, that they must apply for reinstatement with the College of Opticians if they wish to continue dispensing prescription eye wear.
Please click here to view the full correspondence from the College.