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Study of Registration Practices of the
COLLEGE OF OPTOMETRISTS OF ONTARIO, 2007

  1. 1. INTRODUCTION
  2. 2. BACKGROUND OF THE REGULATORY BODY
    1. a. Legislation
    2. b. Protected Titles
    3. c. Definition of the Profession
    4. d. Labour Market/Economic Trends
    5. e. New Developments Within the Profession
    6. f. Staffing
  3. 3. REGISTRATION PRACTICES
    1. a. Registration Requirements and Application Process
    2. b. Documentation Required from Internationally Trained Individuals
    3. c. Credential Assessment (Third Party and/or Internal)
    4. d. Academic/Program Requirements
    5. e. Work Experience Requirements
    6. f. Examinations
    7. g. Language Requirements
    8. h. Fees
    9. i. Third Parties
    10. j. Typical Length of the Registration Process
    11. k. Accredited Programs
    12. l. Internal Review/Appeal Process
  4. 4. BRIDGING PROGRAMS
  5. 5. MUTUAL RECOGNITION AGREEMENTS
  6. 6. APPLICANTS’ INTERACTIONS WITH REGULATORY BODY
    1. a. Nature and Frequency of Communication
    2. b. Backlogs
    3. c. Complaints Regarding the Registration Process
  7. 7. CHANGES SINCE THE 2005 SURVEY
  8. 8. REGISTRATION INFORMATION AND STATISTICS
  9. 9. SOURCES

ISBN 978-1-4249-6470-3 [HTML English version]


1. INTRODUCTION

The Office of the Fairness Commissioner (OFC) undertook a study of registration practices of Ontario’s regulated professions during the fall and winter of 2007–2008. The purpose of the study was to understand each regulated profession’s 2007 registration practices and to establish baseline data and information to enable the OFC to measure progress as it fulfills its mandate under the Fair Access to Regulated Professions Act, 2006.

This report reflects the registration practices of the College of Optometrists of Ontario as of December 31, 2007. Information in this report was gathered from:

The College of Optometrists of Ontario also provided registration information and statistics for 2005, 2006 and 2007 through a standard spreadsheet designed by the OFC.

An analysis and summary of the findings for all of the regulated professions is contained in the OFC’s Ontario’s Regulated Professions: Report on the 2007 Study of Registration Practices.

2. BACKGROUND OF THE REGULATORY BODY

a. Legislation

The authority and limitations of the powers of the College of Optometrists of Ontario (COO) can be found in legislation including the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991, the Health Professions Procedural Code, the Optometry Act and regulations.

The COO establishes the professional requirements that must be met before an optometrist can be registered in the province. The COO is entrusted with the responsibility of determining that the candidate has the knowledge, skills and judgment necessary to practise optometry according to standards set by the COO.

b. Protected Titles

“Optometrist” is the protected title regulated by the College of Optometrists of Ontario.

c. Definition of the Profession

The practice of optometry is the assessment of the eye and vision system and the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disorders of refraction; sensory and oculomotor disorder and dysfunctions of the eye and vision system; and prescribed diseases.

The Canadian Association of Optometrists defines an optometrist as “an independent primary health care provider who specializes in the examination, diagnosis, treatment, management and prevention of disease and disorders of the visual system, the eye and associated structures as well as the diagnosis of ocular manifestations of systemic conditions.”

The main responsibilities of optometrists, as primary eye care providers, are:

d. Labour Market/Economic Trends

The COO does not track labour market trends for the profession. There is a trend toward optometrists practising in more than one location; the COO requires that optometrists who work in more than three locations must get Council approval.

e. New Developments Within the Profession

New requirements under the Health System Improvements Act, 2007 (Bill 171) related to greater public information and accessibility may lead to an increase in membership dues.

In addition, under the act, optometrists will be authorized to prescribe therapeutic pharmaceutical agents (TPAs). This change will improve access to vision services, reducing wait times for the treatment of certain eye conditions by permitting optometrists to prescribe selected drugs for conditions such as infections. In 2007, the COO Council approved a policy titled “Educational Requirements for Members to Prescribe Drugs,” designed to ensure that all members who prescribe TPAs are competent to do so.

New regulations regarding conflict of interest and professional misconduct and the expansion of working relationships between optometrists and opticians were submitted to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care late in 2007.

In the technology field, advancements are allowing optometrists to work more efficiently and delegate more tasks to assistants.

f. Staffing

The COO staff consists of 5.5 full-time employees. Three staff are involved in some stage of the registration process.

3. REGISTRATION PRACTICES

a. Registration Requirements and Application Process

To practise optometry in Ontario, applicants must hold a General Certificate of Registration or an Academic Certificate of Registration issued by the College of Optometrists of Ontario. If applicants have a full-time appointment to the faculty of the School of Optometry of the University of Waterloo or to a university or other optometric educational facility in Ontario approved by the COO and are required to practise optometry in the course of their employment, they must be members of the COO, holding a General Certificate of Registration or an Academic Certificate of Registration.

In order to obtain a General Certificate of Registration or an Academic Certificate of Registration, candidates must meet the following requirements:

b. Documentation Required from Internationally Trained Individuals

i. Standard Documentation

Registration requirements for a General Certificate of Registration or an Academic Certificate of Registration are the same for international graduates as for North American graduates. To assist international graduates in meeting the academic equivalency requirement for registration, the COO and the University of Waterloo School of Optometry have developed the International Optometric Bridging Program (see section 4).

ii. Options for Applicants with Unavailable/Destroyed Documents

Internationally trained applicants can describe their educational background and certification in a signed undertaking or declaration.

c. Credential Assessment (Third Party and/or Internal)

Internationally trained optometrists must take an Optometric Credential Assessment administered by the International Optometric Bridging Program at the University of Waterloo. There are four parts to the assessment:

d. Academic/Program Requirements

Both the General Certificate of Registration and the Academic Certificate of Registration require one of the following:

e. Work Experience Requirements

For applicants who hold a degree of doctor of optometry from an ACOE-accredited school or college, there are no work experience requirements. Practical experience is built into the optometry program at the University of Waterloo.

To enter the International Optometric Bridging Program, international candidates must be currently licensed or registered to practise optometry outside Canada and must have successfully completed either (a) two years of university undergraduate courses prior to entering an optometry school and a four-year optometry degree, or (b) a four-year optometry degree followed by two years of optometric work experience.[1]

f. Examinations

i. Ontario Jurisprudence Exam

All applicants must successfully complete the Ontario Jurisprudence Exam within one year after applying for registration. Application to write the Jurisprudence Exam is made directly to the COO. A one-day seminar is offered to applicants on the day before the exam.

ii. Canadian Standard Assessment in Optometry Exam

Applicants must take the Canadian Standard Assessment in Optometry (CSAO) exam. To be eligible, applicants must provide valid documentation of one of the following qualifications:

Canadian Examiners in Optometry (CEO) administers the CSAO exam. CEO assesses individuals’ competence in the practice of optometry. The results from these assessments are used by provincial and territorial regulators in deciding whether an individual will be issued a licence or a certificate of registration to practise.

The exam contains seven components and is offered in English or French. CEO offers an orientation to the four skills components of the exam on the day before they begin. Attendance at the orientation session is highly encouraged. This session provides an opportunity for candidates to become familiar with the examination facilities and procedures as well as to participate in a question-and-answer forum specific to these components.

After completing the CSAO, applicants must submit their results to the COO. If applicants successfully complete the CSAO exam before applying for registration in Ontario, they must submit a notarized copy of the results.

g. Language Requirements

An applicant for registration must be able to speak and write in English or French with reasonable fluency.

h. Fees

The following fees are subject to GST.

Application fee, including Jurisprudence Seminar and Exam Fee

$400

Certificate fee

$25

Duplicate certificate fee:
When ordered at the same time as the initial certificate
When ordered some time after ordering the initial certificate

 
$10
$25

Annual registration fee

$750

Late penalty fee (application, membership renewal, Certificate of Authorization renewal)

$50

Reinstatement fee (memberships)

$150

Certificate of Authorization (Incorporation) application fee

$500

Certificate of Authorization (Incorporation) certificate fee

$25

Certificate of Authorization (Incorporation) annual renewal fee

$250

Quality Assurance Assessment fee

$1,500

Quality Assurance Evaluation fee

$2,750

Letter of good standing

$25

i. Third Parties

Third Party Partners Role

Canadian Examiners in Optometry (CEO)

Administers the national entry-to-practice exam. Provides the Prior Learning Assessment of UWSO’s assessment process for international graduates.

University of Waterloo School of Optometry (UWSO)

Administers and delivers the comprehensive assessment of international graduates and a bridging program.

j. Typical Length of the Registration Process

Applications for registration are open for two years from the date they are submitted to the COO. If an applicant has not completed the requirements for the issuance of a certificate of registration by the end of this period, a new application must be made.

k. Accredited Programs

The optometry programs recognized by the College of Optometrists of Ontario are North American programs accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE). All schools of optometry in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico are accredited. There are only two schools in Canada:

l. Internal Review/Appeal Process

If the Registrar proposes to refuse to register an applicant, the applicant has the right to appeal to the Registration Committee.

The Registration Committee is a statutory committee composed of one public member of Council and four professional members, one of whom is a member of Council. The committee is responsible for the entry-to-practice process of the profession in Ontario and some of the processes by which members maintain their registration over the course of their careers.

If applicants do not agree with the Registration Committee’s decision, they have the right to appeal to the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board (HPARB).

Appeals related to the Canadian Standard Assessment in Optometry exam are handled by the Canadian Examiners in Optometry, which administers the national entry-to-practice exam.

4. BRIDGING PROGRAMS

The International Optometric Bridging Program (IOBP) at the University of Waterloo School of Optometry (UWSO) consists of a comprehensive assessment process and orientation to practising optometry in Ontario.

The program is designed to provide optometrists educated outside Canada and the United States with a structured orientation to Canadian standards of optometric practice. The program provides all qualified applicants with opportunities to gain the critical language, academic and clinical skills necessary for registration in all provinces of Canada.

Once their academic credentials have been assessed as acceptable, applicants will move forward to a language assessment and a prior learning assessment to ascertain their current knowledge in optometry. The IOBP conducts the language assessment. The IOBP also offers language courses within the bridging programs.

Qualified applicants will then enter the month-long Bridging One program or a year-long structured academic program called Bridging Two. These programs are designed to prepare the applicants to move forward to the Canadian Standard Assessment in Optometry, the examination necessary for registration to practise optometry in Canada.

Placement within the IOBP is determined by an assessment of an individual's current learning in the profession of optometry. The assessment tool used by CEO for this purpose is the Indicator of Current Learning in Optometry (ICLO).[2]

5. MUTUAL RECOGNITION AGREEMENTS

Ontario has mutual recognition agreements with all provinces and territories in Canada, except British Columbia.

6. APPLICANTS’ INTERACTIONS WITH REGULATORY BODY

a. Nature and Frequency of Communication

All applicants receive regular correspondence regarding the status of their application.

b. Backlogs

There is no backlog in the registration process at this time.

c. Complaints Regarding the Registration Process

Complaints regarding the registration process will be directed to the Registrar’s attention in the first instance. If the issue is purely an administrative matter, it would normally be dealt with at the staff level. If the matter relates to a policy issue, then it would normally be brought to the Registration Committee for a decision.

7. CHANGES SINCE THE 2005 SURVEY

The Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration conducted a survey in 2005 to collect information about occupational regulatory bodies in Ontario.

Since then, the COO has implemented numerous programs, services and supports for applicants. The COO has:

Since 2005, the University of Waterloo School of Optometry has developed an updated profession-specific information package for international candidates applying to the IOBP. The IOBP has updated and streamlined academic credentialing, and the language component was made more occupation-specific. The Bridging Two program was launched, and the Bridging One stream is becoming more targeted to the applicant’s areas of weakness.

8. REGISTRATION INFORMATION AND STATISTICS

Definitions used in these tables:

Alternative class of licence: a class of licence that enables its holder to practise with limitations; additional registration requirements must be met in order to be fully licensed. Alternative classes of licence granted by the College of Optometrists of Ontario are specified under the tables below.

Applicant: a person who has applied to start the process for entry to the profession.

Applicant actively pursuing licensing: an applicant who had some contact with the COO within the year specified.

Inactive applicant: an applicant who had no contact with the COO within the year specified.

Member: a person who is currently able to use the protected title or professional designation “optometrist.”

Languages in which application information materials were available
Language 2005 2006 2007
English

Yes

Yes

Yes

French

No

No

No

Other(s)      
Countries where internationally educated applicants were initially trained in optometry
Applications received 2005 2006 2007
Largest number

India

United Kingdom

United Kingdom

Second-largest number

Nigeria

Nigeria

Nigeria

Third-largest number

Iran

Iraq

India

Fourth-largest number

Colombia

Egypt

Iran

Fifth-largest number

China

Nicaragua

Cuba

Staff employed by the College of Optometrists of Ontario
Number of staff 2005 2006 2007
Involved in registration process

2

2

2

Involved in appeals process

1

1

1

Jurisdiction where members were initially trained in optometry (before they were granted use of the protected title or professional designation in Ontario)
Members Ontario Other Canadian Provinces USA Other International TOTAL
Total members

1,204

51

259

55

1,569

Non-practising members

7

1

3

0

11

Applicants processed by the College of Optometrists of Ontario in 2005

 

Jurisdiction where members were initially trained in optometry (before they were granted use of the protected title or professional designation in Ontario)
In 2005 (Jan. 1 to Dec. 31) Ontario Other Canadian Provinces USA Other International TOTAL
New applications received

40

7

30

25

102

Applicants actively pursuing licensing

51

10

46

30

137

Inactive applicants

0

0

2

1

3

Applicants who met all requirements and were authorized to become members but did not become members

1

0

1

0

2

Applicants who became members

36

7

12

8

63

Applicants who were authorized to receive an alternative class of licence1 but were not issued a licence

0

0

0

0

0

Applicants who were issued an alternative class of licence1

0

0

0

0

0

1 Academic Certificate of Registration.

Applicants processed by the College of Optometrists of Ontario in 2006

 

Jurisdiction where members were initially trained in optometry (before they were granted use of the protected title or professional designation in Ontario)
In 2006 (Jan. 1 to Dec. 31) Ontario Other Canadian Provinces USA Other International TOTAL
New applications received

35

3

28

15

81

Applicants actively pursuing licensing

38

3

30

31

102

Inactive applicants

0

0

1

0

1

Applicants who met all requirements and were authorized to become members but did not become members

3

0

9

4

16

Applicants who became members

38

4

23

11

76

Applicants who were authorized to receive an alternative class of licence1 but were not issued a licence

0

0

0

0

0

Applicants who were issued an alternative class of licence1

0

0

0

0

0

1 Academic Certificate of Registration.

Applicants processed by the College of Optometrists of Ontario in 2007

 

Jurisdiction where members were initially trained in optometry (before they were granted use of the protected title or professional designation in Ontario)
In 2007 (Jan. 1 to Dec. 31) Ontario Other Canadian Provinces USA Other International TOTAL
New applications received

43

2

36

8

89

Applicants actively pursuing licensing

50

2

54

27

133

Inactive applicants

1

2

2

5

10

Applicants who met all requirements and were authorized to become members but did not become members

5

0

7

1

13

Applicants who became members

35

1

32

14

82

Applicants who were authorized to receive an alternative class of licence1 but were not issued a licence

0

0

0

0

0

Applicants who were issued an alternative class of licence1

0

0

1

1

2

1 Academic Certificate of Registration.

9. SOURCES

College of Optometrists of Ontario website. http://collegeoptom.on.ca/. Last accessed: February 26, 2008.

College of Optometrists of Ontario. Registration information package.

Representatives of the College of Optometrists of Ontario met with staff of the Office of the Fairness Commissioner on January 21, 2008, to provide further information for this study.



[1] These requirements will change in 2012.

[2] The Indicator of Current Learning in Optometry (ICLO) is a written assessment of optometric knowledge and its clinical application. The ICLO consists of multiple-choice questions developed by practising optometrists in accordance with the established architecture of knowledge and judgment that constitute professional competence as articulated by CEO on behalf of the profession of optometry in Canada (http://www.ceo-eco.org/home_competence.asp). The ICLO provides a reliable indication of the current level of knowledge held by an optometrist about current optometric clinical science and practice.

[3] When applicants report that they cannot get a letter of good standing from a jurisdiction in which they were registered, the COO will ask for proof that a request was made. Acceptable proof would be, for example, a copy of a letter of request and a receipt for a registered letter or from a courier company. The COO would then ask applicants to provide a sworn statement or attestation that they were registered in the other jurisdiction and that they were not under investigation and had not been subject to discipline proceedings.