The purpose of this policy is to establish a fair process for members who are not practising in Ontario, but wish to maintain their registration with the College, while ensuring the delivery of the highest quality of eye care in the public interest.
This policy applies to all members of the College of Optometrists of Ontario (the “College”).
There are two classes of membership with the College: (1) general and (2) academic. The College does not have an inactive or non-practising class of membership.
It is a condition of registration for both the general and academic classes of membership that a member must provide at least 750 hours of direct optometric care to patients in Canada in every three-year period (Registration Regulation, s. 7). If a member holds an appointment at the School of Optometry of the University of Waterloo or other optometric educational facility in Ontario approved by the Council, the member may apply to the Registration Committee for an exemption from the practice hour requirement on the basis that the member’s academic duties prevented the member from meeting the requirement. The Registration Regulation does not provide for any other exceptions to the practice hour requirement.
If a member does not meet the practice hour requirement and has not been exempted from it, the Registrar must refer the member to the Quality Assurance Committee for a practice assessment (in accordance with the Registration and General Regulations). A practice assessment may include the inspection and assessment of records, an inspection of the member’s office and a practice questionnaire. If the Quality Assurance Committee finds deficiencies in the member’s practice, the Committee can make recommendations, require the member to complete continuing education activities or require the member to undergo a clinical evaluation. Following a clinical evaluation, the Quality Assurance Committee may require the member to complete a more comprehensive remedial program or impose terms, conditions and limitations on the member’s certificate of registration (General Regulation, ss. 27-29).
The purpose of the practice hour requirement is to ensure that practising optometrists remain current and up-to-date in their ability to practise the profession safely and competently. Nevertheless, the College recognizes that members may need or want to stop practising in Ontario for a variety of personal and professional reasons. Those members may not want to resign their membership with the College. Accordingly, the College has developed this policy to establish the process to follow when a member requests non-practising status with the College, as well as the steps that are required for a member with non-practising status to return to practise in Ontario.
As noted above, the College does not have a non-practising or inactive certificate of registration. Non-practising status is recognition that a person is still a member of the College but has agreed not to practise optometry in Ontario unless certain conditions are met. The member’s entry on the College’s public Register will state “Member Non-Practising”.
Non-practising status is voluntary. However, if a member does not request non-practising status, that member will continue to be subject to all of the conditions of registration with the College, including the practice hour requirement.
A member may change his or her status from practising to non-practising by signing and delivering an undertaking to the College in the form attached as Appendix A (updated). In order to obtain non-practising status, the member must agree to:
Upon receipt of an acceptable undertaking, the College will change the member’s status to non-practising, notify the member of the change in writing and update the public Register.
If a member does not sign an undertaking and does not resign, the member will remain subject to all of the conditions and obligations of membership with the College, including the practice hour requirement. In other words, if a member has not signed an undertaking and does not meet the practice hour requirement in a three-year period, that member will be referred to the Quality Assurance Committee for a practice assessment.
A member may request to return to practising status in accordance with the terms of the undertaking he or she has provided to the College. The member must first complete a Return to Practise Form (including a declaration of hours of practice in the current year and statement of good standing), provide proof of liability insurance, and complete the Practice Location/Change of Information Form.
In accordance with the terms of the member’s undertaking, the member may be required to complete a practice assessment or practice evaluation depending on the number of practice hours the member provided in the three years before his or her request to return to practise. Specifically:
The College strives to process Return to Practise applications in a timely manner. However, the College urges members to consult with the College prior to making any practice arrangements.
Registration Regulation, O. Reg. 837/93 under the Optometry Act, 1991, S.O. 1991, c. 35: section 7
General Regulation, O. Reg. 119/94 under the Optometry Act, 1991, S.O. 1991, c. 35: sections 23-34