Inquiries, Reports and Complaints

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does the complaints process take?

The Health Professions Procedural Code stipulates that a panel of the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC) should dispose of a complaint within 150 days of its receipt by the College. The College of Optometrists strives to resolve all complaints within the 150-day period. However, certain cases brought before the ICRC are more complicated than others and may require a longer period of time to thoroughly investigate the complaint and resolve it in a manner that best protects the public interest. If this is the case, the complainant and the optometrist involved will be notified of any delay, the reasons for the delay and the expected date of the panel’s decision. Should that delay exceed 210 days, the Registrar is required to provide the parties to the complaint and the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board with notice of the delay and the reasons for it. The Health Professions Appeal and Review Board can then: (i) direct the panel of the ICRC to continue to investigate the complaint; (ii) make recommendations to the ICRC or (iii) initiate its own investigation into the matter.

Does the College reimburse complainants or optometrists for costs incurred in the course of dealing with a complaint?

The complaints process is carried out without charging the complainant or the optometrist for the costs associated with processing and disposing of the complaint. Similarly, the College does not reimburse the complainant or the optometrist for costs they incur while responding to the complaint.

Do complaints against an optometrist remain confidential?

As part of our public protection mandate, the College of Optometrists of Ontario is committed to enhancing transparency. The objective of transparency is to ensure that Ontarians have access to relevant, timely, useful, and accurate information about their health care providers, which will enhance their ability to make informed decisions about their health care. Therefore, more information about optometrists is now available to the public. This includes the outcomes of the investigations (complaints and reports) that the ICRC assesses as moderate risk to the public (cautions, specified continuing education and remedial program and moderate risk undertakings) for all complaints received by the College on or after October 1, 2015.

In addition, the ICRC is required to consider all available prior complaint/report decisions involving the optometrist who receives a new complaint/report. The optometrist is given an opportunity to comment on these prior decisions (if there are any). Information about prior decisions is not disclosed to the complainant.

How does the College deal with anonymous complaints against an optometrist?

The ICRC does not initiate a complaints investigation in cases where the complainant is anonymous. However, if the Registrar becomes aware of some information of a serious nature involving an optometrist that gives the Registrar reasonable and probable grounds to believe that the optometrist has committed professional misconduct or is incompetent, the Registrar may initiate an investigation, with the ICRC’s approval.

Can information gathered by the College or the decision issued by the ICRC be used in Court?

No. In accordance with Section 36(3) of the Regulated Health Professions Act, no report or decision of a proceeding under that act or any other health professions act or the Drug and Pharmacies Regulations Act is admissible in a civil proceeding.