The Competition Bureau recently published an article advocating for provincial governments and regulators to provide greater access to online eyewear sales. This highlighted an issue that has been around for quite some time in our industry.
The Ontario Opticians Association (the “OOA”) believes consumers should have the right to make purchasing choices … but they must be safe choices. The OOA supports changes to the regulations and standards of practice that permit opticians to better utilize the internet to serve their clients.
The fact that a corporation chooses to operate only online should not give them the right to circumvent the regulatory rules which the Ontario Government has put in place to protect the public. Corporations can comply with the law by properly involving opticians in the dispensing process and still have successful business models. Furthermore, the OOA is committed to assisting its members to determine how current technology can be used to safely perform the controlled acts that they have been authorized to perform. The OOA believes that current technology provides the opportunity to allow for safe practice if appropriate controls are in place.
Dispensing has been designated, at law, as a controlled act within the Regulated Health Professions Act in Ontario. The law recognizes, and it has been confirmed by the Ontario courts that an act that has been designated as a controlled act is inherently dangerous and therefore has been taken out of the public domain. This is intended to ensure that only those individuals with the appropriate skills, education and knowledge, as evidenced by their registration with the appropriate regulatory agency, are permitted to perform particular tasks.
In their response to the Competition Bureau’s article, the College of Opticians stated: “… the Colleges agree that a free and competitive market for corrective eyewear is in the public interest and are aligned with the Competition Bureau in wanting to ensure that patients have as many options as can be safely provided for in how they access their eye care”. The OOA is well placed to provide information and consultation to both the College and the provincial government if they are considering making any changes to the current regime. We will take every opportunity to be the voice of Ontario opticians for any consultations on changes to any legislation or standards of practice related to the dispensing of eyewear online to ensure that our members can be successful while remaining in compliance with any proposed changes. Additionally, one area of particular interest to the OOA involves the delivery of eyewear directly to consumers without the direct involvement of a healthcare professional. On behalf of our members, we will continue to communicate the importance of ensuring that online dispensing should not take place without the appropriate involvement of a healthcare professional.
A link to the article can be found here:
College of Opticians & College of Optometrists of Ontario Statement
Opticians Association of Canada British Columbia Chapter Statement
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