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.
For the last few years, the College has been working to increase regulators’ accountability and improve patient choice by making more information available to the public about the regulatory process.
This is a priority project whose importance has been acknowledged by the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. To this end, the College has teamed up with five other regulatory colleges in the Advisory Group for Regulatory Excellence (AGRE). Together, the Colleges have been working on a multistage transparency initiative to determine how we can provide more information about Ontario’s regulated health-care professionals and the decisions and processes that affect their practice.
The first task of AGRE was to develop a set of transparency principles to guide the discussions about making more information publicly available. The councils of the six AGRE colleges have all approved and endorsed these principles.
At our Council meetings in January 2015 and September 2015, new by-laws were approved that allow the posting of additional information on our public register. These decisions followed an extensive external consultation with members of the College, the public, and other stakeholders.
Taking AGRE’s work and recommendations into account, the Council has approved making the following information about optometrists publicly available:
By default, the information will remain on the public register indefinitely. There is a process to request removal of the complaints/reports decision information three years after the information was posted, provided that certain criteria have been met. In addition, if any other information is obsolete and no longer relevant to the optometrist’s suitability to practise, the Registrar may decide to remove it. Any such requests will be considered by the Registrar on a case-by-case basis.
Optometrists will be expected to self-report this information, and it will also be collected during annual membership renewal process. Information pertaining to complaints/reports decisions will be in effect for complaints received on or after October 1, 2015. Information pertaining to findings of guilt will be posted if made by a court after January 17, 2015.
Transparency is not just about making additional information public, it is also about making the information we share clear, accessible, and easy to understand. For this purpose, the College has worked hard to make the transparency principles part of who we are. This includes: