Dear Fellow Ontario Opticians
The OOA has been hearing from many of you about concerns around the mixed messages coming from all directions. We have been working with our partner, the Opticians Association of Canada, and have also been in contact with the College of Opticians of Ontario (COO) on a daily basis. There are so many messages coming out from the COO, the OAC, the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario and local city governments. I too find it all confusing. The term essential service is being thrown around quite a bit leaving opticians and their employers wondering if opticians fall into this group.
Clinicians are in the best position to determine what is essential in their specific health practice. In making decisions regarding the reduction or elimination of non-essential and elective services, regulated health professionals should be guided by their regulatory College - Directive #2 for Health Care Providers (Regulated Health Professionals or Persons who operate a Group Practice of Regulated Health Professionals) March 20, 2020
Generally speaking, we are not. Or are we? A patient with a strong Rx who has lost or broken their glasses, would probably look at us as an essential service. We are getting calls from opticians who work in different practice models not feeling safe serving patients under the current circumstances. Some employers have given their optician employees the option of going home. Some are being told that they would be using their vacation time. Is this fair? I’m being told that some stores are closing, and opticians aren’t being told what is next. Do I need to apply for EI? Will my employer continue to pay me? I don’t have a record of employment (ROE) to submit with my EI. If I make my own decision to go home, is it considered that I quit? I could go on with questions. The COO has been sending out emails telling opticians that it is up to the individual optician to exercise their professional judgement as to whether they should stay at work and service patients or refuse service and go home. The COO, has stated, does not have the authority to tell stores to close or opticians not to practice. Hopefully employers will act responsibly. We call on employers to do the right thing. Remember, you are the one to consider all factors and decide if you are acting in the best interests of your patient, family, and of course, yourself.
What is an Essential Service? Under the MOH directive, opticians may continue to provide essential services only. What constitutes an essential service will be up to each optician’s professional judgment. The College will continue to develop its FAQs to provide further guidance on what constitutes an essential service. College of Opticians of Ontario March 20, 2020
What Does this Mean for Me? As you know earlier this week, the College of Opticians recommended that opticians suspend all non-essential in-person care. The MOH has now issued a directive to cease non-essential services, and accordingly this is no longer simply a recommendation. It is imperative that registrants follow this direction without delay. College of Opticians of Ontario March 20, 2020
Your associations are in a position to ask questions and lobby on your behalf. I have been seeking information and asking hard questions. One of the many concerns we have brought forward to the COO is the issue of portfolios. COO is listening and is extending the portfolio deadline and cancelling the Multi Source Feedback until next year. They are also, for obvious reasons, suspending onsite peer assessments until further notice. This was the right thing to do. It was a good move by the College of Opticians.
The OOA is committed to bringing you opportunities to acquire your accredited continuing education hours through our professional learning events. Due to the current situation we have unfortunately had to cancel Inside Optics on April 19th. In light of this, we have decided to offer Inside Optics live via a webcast. We appreciate the financial hardships a lot of you are anticipating with the current situation, and for this reason, we are partnering with the OAC offering the webcast of Inside Optics free to all OOA/OAC members right across Canada. I’m sure for some of you con-ed is the last thing on your mind at this time. The OOA believes that in this time of social distancing, it is important for people to stay connected. The Inside Optics live webcast will be an opportunity for you to have a connected experience. We will be able to interact with you and answer your questions. Our presenters are eager to connect with you along with representatives from the COO, the OAC and of course, the OOA. You can register for this free event by clicking this link. And for those of you who are not members, there is still time to join and enjoy this free day of connecting with your fellow opticians from across Canada.
The situation is changing day to day. We will continue to share information from all of our sources. If you have any questions or concerns I invite you to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Board of Directors of the Ontario Opticians Association, along with Martin Lebeau, OOA Deputy Executive Director, and I, wish you all the best during these extraordinary times.
Lorne Kashin, RO
Ontario Opticians Association