Continuing Education and OE TRACKER

What are the CE requirements for the current CE cycle?

The current CE cycle runs from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2017. The College does not approve/accredit individual CE courses; instead, members are responsible for ensuring that their CE activities fall into the appropriate categories. A link to the current CE policy can be found here. The CE Policy outlines the requirements for what constitutes Category A and what constitutes Category B CE.

What about new registrants?

Members registered in the first year of the three-year cycle, i.e. 2015, must obtain 47 credit hours (a minimum of 34 Category A credit hours is required; the remaining 13 credit hours may be Category A or B). Members registered in the second year, i.e. 2016, of the three-year cycle must obtain 24 credit hours (a minimum of 17 Category A credit hours is required; the remaining 7 credit hours may be Category A or B). Members registered in the third year, i.e. 2017, of the three-year cycle have no requirements to obtain credit hours for the remainder of the cycle.

You may claim only CE credit hours that have been completed following your initial registration with the College. Accordingly, any CE credits that you have obtained prior to being registered with the College cannot be used to meet the requirements for the current CE cycle.

Is online CE accepted?

For the current CE cycle, all CE credits may be obtained online. However, only online CE that is COPE-accredited with an examination/quiz at the end would qualify as Category A. COPE-accredited CE is designated with an official COPE course I.D. number and an official COPE event number.

Do I get CE credit hours for completing the mandatory elearning module, “Professionalism, Ethical Decision Making and the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Patients”?

No, you will not be able to claim CE credit hours for completing the elearning module.

Can I carry over CE credits to the next CE cycle?

No, there is no carrying over of CE credits to the next CE cycle.

How do I set up my online OE TRACKER account?

Contact ARBO by phone at (866) 869-6852 to set up your online OE TRACKER account. You will need your OE TRACKER number and will need to inform ARBO that you are a member of the College of Optometrists of Ontario.

Do I have to submit ALL of my CE credit hours to OE TRACKER?

Yes, you must submit all of your CE credit hours (both Category A and B) to OE TRACKER. Please do not send your CE certificates to the College as the College will not be keeping records of members’ CE certificates.Yes, you must submit all of your CE credit hours (both Category A and B) to OE TRACKER. Please do not send your CE certificates to the College as the College will not be keeping records of members’ CE certificates.

When submitting your CE certificates to ARBO, you must indicate the number of CE credit hours and whether the CE credits qualify as Category A or B. Some CE providers send attendance information directly to ARBO. Otherwise, you must submit your own documents by:

  • Logging into OE TRACKER and clicking the “Submit Credits into OE TRACKER from CE Certificates” option.
  • Emailing to arbo@arbo.org. You can scan or take a picture of your CE certificates and email them to ARBO. The images should be sent in PDF (preferred) or JPEG format.
  • Faxing to 1-888-703-4848. You must fill out a fax cover sheet and send it along with the certificate.
  •  Downloading the OE TRACKER mobile app and using it to instantly send your attendance data. For more information about the app, visit ARBO’s website.

It will take 3–5 business days before the hours are reflected in the account.

Some CE credits are not marked as Category A or B. How do I update that?

All of the CE credits that you are using to meet your mandatory CE requirements must be marked as Category as A or B in OE TRACKER. To change or update the A and B categories, print out a copy of your OE TRACKER transcript, mark the changes you want made to the A and B categories, and email a scanned copy or a picture of the transcript to arbo@arbo.org. It will take 2 weeks before the changes are reflected in the account.

My OE TRACKER transcript distinguishes between COPE and non-COPE hours. Is there a minimum requirement for COPE-accredited CE credit hours?

No, there is no minimum requirement for COPE-accredited CE credit hours. For auditing purposes, the College will only consider the total number of Category A credit hours and the total number of Category B credit hours completed for the current CE cycle.

How do I submit Category A equivalencies?

  • Fellowship or diplomate in the American Academy of Optometry or Fellowship in the College of Optometrists in Vision Development: submit a copy of your certificate to OE TRACKER.
  • Graduate studies in optometry or a related health discipline: submit a copy of your certificate to OE TRACKER.
  • For publication of an article in a refereed optometric, ophthalmologic, or medical journal or publication of a case report in a refereed journal: submit a copy of your publication to OE TRACKER, ensuring that your full name and the original date of publication are indicated in the publication.
  • Certification in a Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Heart Saver AED (C) and CPR HCP (Health Care Provider) level with AED: submit a copy of your certification to OE TRACKER.
  • For all other Category A equivalencies, you must obtain a letter from the CE provider (e.g., the ACOE-accredited school, the IOBP, or the OEBC, etc.) that confirms your participation in the Category A equivalent activities. Please submit the letter to OE TRACKER.

Please note that no more than 35 hours per CE cycle may be obtained through Category A equivalencies.

Do I have to pay the subscription fee for OE TRACKER?

For the current CE cycle and for the upcoming CE cycle (January 1, 2018–December 31, 2020), the College will be paying the OE TRACKER subscription fees for all members.

Designated Drugs Regulation FAQs

  • Click here for frequently asked questions. (PDF)

Independent Contractor FAQs

Who needs an Independent Contractor Agreement?

Optometrists are permitted to practise in a variety of settings, many of which require them to have a written Independent Contractor Agreement (“Agreement”) in place.

The circumstances in which members do NOT need to have an Agreement are the easiest to determine. You do not need an Agreement if you practise:

  • on your own
  • with another member of the College who is engaged in the practice of the profession
  • with an Ontario-registered physician who is engaged in the practice of medicine

Ontario Regulation 119/94 also creates an exception so that optometrists who work in hospitals, government, or universities with others are NOT required to have Agreements.

Members practising in almost every other setting MUST have an Agreement in place, including but not limited to the following situations:

  • Members who practise at an optical store, even if it is only once a week
  • Members engaged in practice with corporations that coordinate mobile eye clinics
  • Members engaged in practice with an optometrist, group of optometrists, or corporation owned by optometrists, where some or all of the optometrists are not licensed to practise in Ontario
  • Members engaged in practice with an optometrist or a physician who is strictly acting as a manager and not seeing patients
  • Members who are practising in association with a surgical centre (and are not employed by an ophthalmologist performing the surgeries)

How do I know if my Agreement is in compliance with the College regulation? Is the College able to review it for me?

The College recommends that members entering into Agreements include the following wording (taken from (O. Reg. 119/94 under the Optometry Act, subsection 4(5) in their contracts):

The parties hereby acknowledge and agree that the optometrist, ___________ (enter name):

  1. shall control the professional services provided to a patient;
  2. shall control who he or she may accept as a patient;
  3. shall provide every patient or his or her authorized representative with a copy of his or her prescription;
  4. shall set the fee charged or collected in respect of any professional service;
  5. shall control the maintenance, custody and access to the records required to be kept in respect of the practice of the profession;
  6. shall have access, along with his or her staff, to the premises where the member practises and to the books and records related to his or her practice, at any time of the day or night; and
  7. shall ensure that any advertising relating to the professional services provided by the member meets the requirements set out in regulations made under the Act. O. Reg. 24/14, s. 1.

Agreements must include:

  • Terms for reasonable rent for office space and equipment that is paid regularly and is not based on volume of business or fees generated by the optometrist

Agreements cannot include the following:

  • Terms requiring the transfer of patient records to non-optometrists (i.e., opticians/corporations) upon termination of any agreement
  • Terms that require sharing of fees (as fee sharing is expressly prohibited by the regulation)
  • Terms whereby the optical/corporation controls the following:
    • fees
    • schedule/types of appointments
    • vacation/days off
    • attire
    • how patients receive the copy of their prescriptions
    • a requirement to disclose revenues/volume of business

The College does not have the capacity to approve members’ Agreements. Members are encouraged to ask their own lawyers to review any Agreement prior to signing to ensure it is in compliance with the regulation.

Disclaimer: The independent contractor provisions under the Optometry Act are not necessarily consistent with Canada Revenue Agency’s definition of “independent contractor,” nor were they intended to be. You should consult an accountant for advice on compliance with the CRA in that regard. This document is not intended to provide legal advice; members should consult with their own lawyers for such advice.

Professional Misconduct Regulation FAQs

Advertising and Receipts

May our clinic advertise discounts/sales/promotions to the public (e.g., 50% off all frames until July 1, or 25% off the purchase of a second pair of spectacles)?

Yes. Informational advertising respects patient choice and is permitted. However, advertised promotions must be truthful and verifiable and must not be misleading or presented in such a manner as to demean the integrity of the profession.

May our clinic offer incentives to patients (e.g., Air Miles, or a raffle for a trip to Miami)?

Yes and no. Because travel reward points (e.g., Air Miles) confer only a nominal benefit, they would represent an acceptable incentive that may be offered to patients. Conversely, an incentive involving a trip to Miami would surpass this threshold, constituting a benefit under the conflict-of-interest regulation, and may not be offered to patients.

May our clinic advertise and/or offer discounts to patients who refer family members or friends?

No. Optometrists may not offer or confer benefits for the referral of patients. This does not apply to “benefits of a nominal value,” which means small items or rebates that are not worth more than a few dollars.

May our receipts itemize a single dollar value for spectacles (frame and lenses together) or should our receipts itemize prices for frames and lenses separately?

Receipts for spectacles should be itemized to include separate values for frames and lenses, for patient information and as a third-party payor (insurance company) would require. However, optometrists may charge retail pricing for spectacles and are free to set their own prices for frames and lenses.

Mandatory Prescription Release

If a patient has an eye exam and there’s no change in prescription, must I give the patient a copy of the prescription?

Yes. A prescription must be given to the patient when two requirements are met:

  • you have assessed the patient’s eyes

AND

  • a prescription is clinically indicated for the patient

In this case you would have met both requirements because you conducted the exam and a prescription is clinically indicated for the patient, even if nothing has changed. Therefore, you must give the patient a copy of the prescription at the conclusion of the eye exam.

May I email optical prescriptions to patients?

Yes, but not exclusively. Patients should leave your clinic in possession of their prescriptions. A prescription may be written or printed, and handed to the patient on paper. Alternatively, the prescription may be delivered electronically in PDF format to the patient’s smartphone or connected device, if receipt can be verified in office. Optical prescriptions should only be delivered electronically at the request or preference of patients.

If a patient refuses the prescription, what must I do? For example, the patient might have already decided to buy glasses at my office, or might not want new glasses if the prescription hasn’t changed.

You should insist that the patient take the prescription. If they refuse to accept it, then keep the written, signed, and dated copy of the prescription in the patient’s record and let the patient know they can pick it up at any time. You should note in the record that the patient declined the prescription. You should explain to patients that you’re required to give them a copy of their prescription and that it’s in their interests to keep a copy for their records should they need it to replace broken, stolen, or lost glasses.

If a patient shows up for an emergency exam with complaints of sudden onset floaters in one eye, and no refractive measurement is investigated at the visit, must I give the patient a copy of the prescription?

No. Because the patient visit didn’t involve refractive considerations, no prescription is indicated.

If a patient receives regular binocular vision therapy at our clinic, and refractive status is investigated only periodically, when must I give the patient a copy of the prescription?

The patient should be given a copy of the prescription after a major (or comprehensive) eye exam and at interim visits whenever a refraction result suggests the prescription needs changing.

If a patient has an eye exam and no correction is needed, must I give the patient a copy of a prescription?

No. Although there might be a refractive result (either small or absent), you must write a prescription only where one is clinically indicated.

When must I release contact lens specifications?

Appliance-specific information, including the specifications of contact lenses (or “contact lens prescription”), need only be given upon patient request. Once you’ve established that, in your clinical judgment, the contact lens fitting is complete and the fees related to it have been paid in full, you must release the specifications if the patient requests.