Professional Conduct: Frequently Asked Questions

Complaints FAQ

Can I make an anonymous complaint?

No. The College is not able to act on anonymous complaints. The optician, intern optician or student optician who is the subject of the complaint must be in a position to respond fully to the allegation(s).


Can the College give me information about an ongoing investigation?

No. The College is prohibited from making any information regarding ongoing complaint investigations public knowledge.  Complaints investigations are a confidential process, only the complainant and the registrant against whom the complaint was made will receive information.


Who decides the result of the investigation?

 The Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC) is composed of both opticians and non-opticians.  This committee will investigate, review and make a decision based on the complaint received.


Are the decisions and/or reasons of the ICRC made available to the public?

No. The ICRC’s decision and reasons are communicated only to the complainant and to the optician, intern optician or student optician who is the subject of the complaint.

Information will only be made available to the public on the College’s Public Register under the following circumstances:

  • ICRC refers specified allegations of professional misconduct or incompetence to the Discipline Committee
  • The optician, intern optician or student optician is ordered by the ICRC to appear for an oral caution
  • The optician, intern optician or student optician is ordered to complete continuing education or remedial training
  • The optician, intern optician or student optician enters into an acknowledgment or undertaking with the College in relation to the complaint


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

No.  Under Section 36(3) of the Regulated Health Professions Act, no report or decision relating to a proceeding under that act or any other health professions act is admissible in a civil proceeding.


Can the College make an optical dispensary give me back my money?

No.  This can only be done through a civil proceeding.

While the College can investigate inappropriate business practices, including charging excessive fees, the College does not have the legal authority to order monetary compensation.


If requested, do opticians have to provide patients with information from their personal health record (i.e., pupillary distance measurement (PD), keratometry readings, etc.)?

Yes. Under the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (PHIPA), a patient has a right of access to his or her own personal health information. As a result, opticians have a corresponding obligation to provide access to this information under PHIPA.  The physical record of a patient’s personal health information belongs to the optician, but the personal health information contained within the file belongs to the patient.


Can opticians charge a fee for providing /releasing a patient record?

Yes. Opticians may charge a fee for providing a patient with access to their personal health information if the optician first provides an estimate of the fee to the patient. The fee must not exceed the optician’s reasonable cost recovery.

Reporting Obligations FAQ

The College offers the following FAQ to assist individuals who employ opticians, or who own and/or operate an eyewear store or dispensary, or who may be considering doing so:

Who is authorized to dispense prescription eyewear in Ontario?

Only opticians, optometrists and medical doctors are legally authorized to dispense prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses or subnormal vision devises in Ontario.


Do I have to be an optician/optometrist/doctor in order own or operate an eyewear store or dispensary?

No, anyone can own or operate a store or dispensary that sells eyewear.


Can I operate my store/dispensary without involving an optician/optometrist/doctor?

Yes, however it is important to be aware that in order to DISPENSE prescription eyeglasses or contact lenses, the legislation requires that an optician, optometrist or medical doctor (ophthalmologist) be involved. You are not precluded from selling eyeglass frames or non-prescription eyewear (for example, non-prescription sunglasses) without the involvement of an authorized regulated health professional.


How do I know whether my employee or business partner or associate is authorized to practice as an optician in Ontario?

The College maintains a public register that provides information regarding all registrants of the College of Opticians of Ontario. The public register indicates whether a registrant is entitled to practice in Ontario, whether there are any terms, conditions, or limitations on the registrant's certificate of registration, and whether the registrant is subject to any allegations or previous findings of professional misconduct, incompetence or incapacity. Click here to access the College's Public Register.


What legal obligations do I have as someone who employs opticians or who owns or operates an eyewear store or dispensary?

All individuals who employ opticians or operate an eyewear-related business, or who intend to do so, should contact a qualified legal professional for advice regarding their legal duties and obligations. The following list of obligations is not exhaustive and is intended for information purposes only:

  • Mandatory Reporting: The Regulated Health Professions Act requires those who employ a health professional or who operate a health facility to make a report to the College where there is reason to believe the registrant engaged in professional misconduct, is incompetent or incapacitated, or may have sexually abused a patient. For more information on the mandatory reporting obligations of employers and facility operators click here. To make a mandatory report click here 
  • Advertising: In accordance with the General Regulation under the Opticianry Act, 1991, advertisements relating to an optician's practice or place of practice cannot contain:
    • Anything that is false or misleading;
    • Anything that, because of its nature, cannot be verified;
    • A claim of specialization, if the registrant does not hold a specialty certificate issued by the College; or
    • The registrant's name or photograph, or other likeness, in an advertisement that implies, or could be reasonably interpreted to imply, that the professional expertise of the registrant is relevant to the subject matter of the advertisement if, in fact, it is not.

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