Under Ontario law, no person other than a registered member of the College of Opticians of Ontario or the College of Optometrists of Ontario or the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario are authorized to fit and dispense eyeglasses, contact lenses and subnormal vision devices to the public; Opticianry Act, 1991, S.O. 1991, c. 34, s. 9(1). Those persons who are engaged in or who condone unauthorized practice place the public in harm’s way and it is important for this College and its members to do everything possible to protect the public.
The College encourages the reporting of unauthorized practice to the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (the “ICRC”) of this College. To report unauthorized practice, you can download the College’s Unauthorized Practice Complaint Form. Please clearly fill in the form to the best of your ability and return it by either mail or fax to the College. Or, you can contact the College of Opticians of Ontario at (416) 368-3616 or Toll Free at (800) 990-9793 (Ontario only).
Subsequent to the College receiving an inquiry that individuals that are not registered opticians are performing the controlled act of dispensing eyeglasses, contact lenses or subnormal vision devices contrary to the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991, the inquiry goes to a panel of the ICRC for review. Although an unauthorized practice inquiry is reviewed if submitted anonymously, if the person making the inquiry includes their name and a telephone number, the inquiry is more valuable. The form has a format that helps the College act upon the information and if a contact person and telephone member is included, the College may wish to speak to you directly in order to co-ordinate an investigation with the panel. This has proven to increase the success of unauthorized practice investigations.
After review by a panel of the ICRC, the panel may resolve the matter by discovering that a registered optician is working there and will take no further action, or by sending the business a warning in writing, or by investigating the practice. Please understand that the College cannot provide information about ongoing investigations. The panel can also recommend to the College whoever contravenes the controlled act of dispensing to prosecute individuals and their employers.
Even though the College regulates only opticians, student opticians and intern opticians in Ontario, the College firmly believes that to protect the public, unauthorized practice should be stopped and those that perpetrate it should suffer stiff penalties. Please note that the College has limited legal authority or jurisdiction over optical stores, dispensaries, corporations or their non-optician owners or managers. Unfortunately, the College does not have the authority to “shut down” optical dispensaries that engage in unauthorized practice and recognizes that the fines often awarded by the court, while in compliance with the Regulated Health Professions Act, are low.
Nonetheless, the College of Opticians of Ontario will continue to prosecute individuals and corporations that permit or encourage unauthorized practice in Ontario through the Ontario Court System. Additionally, the College can and does seek contempt of court orders when the court has ordered an individual to cease dispensing illegally and the College has reason to believe illegal dispensing is still taking place.
The College has secured the following convictions