Approved by Council, September 30, 2015
This policy explains, in the interests of transparency and fairness, how the College of Optometrists of Ontario assesses information from or about applicants for whom evidence of past conduct raises questions about their ability to practise optometry with honesty and integrity, which is also known as “good character.”
This policy applies to all applicants who apply for a certificate of registration from the College of Optometrists of Ontario (the “College”).
The College’s overriding mandate is to serve and protect the public interest. As part of its commitment to doing so, the College adopted a mission statement which provides:
Mission: To serve the public by regulating Ontario’s optometrists. The College uses its authority to guide the profession in the delivery of safe, ethical, progressive and quality eye care at the highest standards.
One of the ways in which the College ensures that the profession delivers safe and ethical eye care is by requiring applicants to be of good character. Good character can be understood as being willing and able to practise optometry with honesty, integrity and in accordance with the law.
While the College does not currently have an explicit general good character requirement in the Registration Regulation, good character is implicitly required by the College’s Registration Regulation and the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991. In addition, several other specific registration requirements help ensure that future members of the College are of good character, including:
Applicants are generally presumed to be of good character unless and until evidence demonstrates otherwise. Good character remains an ongoing expectation of registered optometrists who are required to submit declarations about their conduct to the College as part of the annual registration renewal process.
The relevant legislation is set out in the attached Appendix 1.
Optometrists are expected to demonstrate honesty and integrity in all of their actions, to practise in an ethical and safe manner, and to comply with all legislation, regulations, College By-laws, and policy governing the profession.
Examples of conduct or circumstances that may give rise to doubt on the part of the Registrar that the applicant is of good character include, but are not limited to:
If the Registrar has doubts about whether an applicant is of good character, or is of the opinion that terms, conditions or limitations should be imposed, or proposes to refuse registration, the Registrar will refer the application to the Registration Committee in accordance with the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991. The applicant will be provided with notice of the referral and an opportunity to make written submissions to the Registration Committee about his or her good character.
The Registration Committee of the College then reviews the application and the submissions, if any, in order to determine if the issuance of a certificate of registration—with or without terms, conditions and limitations—is in the public interest.
When making decisions about the issuance of a certificate of registration, the College is committed to ensuring that:
The Registration Committee reviews applications referred to it by the Registrar.
The Registration Committee will review the application and any submissions of the applicant in order to make a determination of whether the applicant is of good character at the time of the application.
When the Registrar has doubts about an applicant’s character, the applicant has the onus of establishing that he or she is of good character. In other words, it is up to the applicant to prove to the College, generally through supporting documents, that the applicant is of good character.
Therefore, if an applicant answers “yes” to any declaration question on the application form, the College recommends that the applicant provide additional supporting documentation as follows:
Applicants are responsible for making arrangements at their own expense with the proper authorities to have official information (such as transcripts) sent directly to the College.
The Registrar may request any of the above information if the Registrar has doubts about the applicant’s good character.
The College keeps all information confidential except as required or allowed by law.
In each case, several factors will be considered by the Registration Committee vis à vis the conduct under review, including the following:
After considering the application, the submissions of the applicant and the factors set out above, a panel of the Registration Committee may:
Where the Registration Committee determines that the public interest may be protected by directing the Registrar to register the applicant with terms, conditions and limitations, the following is a non-exhaustive list of the types of terms, conditions and limitations that may be imposed:
Decisions of the Registration Committee may be appealed by the applicant to the Health Professions Review and Appeal Board (HPARB) within 30 days of receipt of the written Decision and Reasons.