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Understanding the Complaints Process

One way in which the College works to protect the public is by investigating complaints that are made against its registrants; opticians, intern opticians and student opticians.

Each step of investigating a complaint is done in accordance with the legislation.  The process is intended to be fair to both the person who makes the complaint (the “complainant”) and the optician, intern optician or student optician who is the subject of the complaint.

If you have a concern regarding the conduct or care you have received, this guide will provide useful information about the complaints process.  

Who can make a Complaint?

Anyone can make a formal complaint against a registrant of the College of Opticians of Ontario.

How do I make a Complaint?

A formal complaint can be filed with the College in writing or through a recording (audio or visual).  Complaints cannot be made over the phone and cannot be anonymous.  You can send your complaint by email using the Complaints Form or if you require a paper copy, please contact the College at 416-368-3616 ext 213.

Please provide the College with as much information as possible, including:

  1. Your name mailing address, email address and phone number
  2. The name of the optician, or if you do not know their name, details that would assist the College to identify them (such as where they work and when the incident(s) took place)
  3. The name and address of the store where the interaction with the optician took place
  4. The name of patient (if it is not you)
  5. As much detail as possible about the incident(s) and your concerns
  6. The name of any other opticians, health care practitioners (e.g. the optometrist who gave you the eye exam) or other persons that may have relevant information
  7. Any supporting documents, such as prescriptions, lab receipts, invoices and eyeglasses

Is there a time limit for making a Complaint?

While there is no time limit you are encouraged to make the complaint as soon as possible so the College may follow up and investigate the matter effectively.

Investigating the Complaint

Once the complaint is received:

  1. The information will be reviewed.
  2. A letter confirming the receipt of your complaint will be sent to you. 
  3. You may be contacted for follow-up information or to confirm the information provided.  If you have concerns with more than one optician, you will need to file separate complaints.
  4. A copy of the complaint is forwarded to the optician, intern optician or student optician who is the subject of your complaint and they are invited to submit a written response to the College.

The complaint will be investigated by the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee of the College (ICRC). College staff may assist the ICRC to gather information about the issues raised in the complaint.  This may involve: 

  • Interviewing the complainant, the subject of the complaint or additional witnesses
  • Compiling documents related to the complaint such as patient records
  • Obtaining eyeglasses

The ICRC is composed of both opticians and non-opticians.  College staff are not members of the ICRC, nor are they involved in any way with the decision making. 

Reviewing the Complaint

The ICRC will screen complaints and may request:

  • Additional information or clarification from the complainant or from the subject of the complaint
  • That an expert comment on the case 
  • That an investigator be appointed

The Decision

The ICRC uses a risk-based approach to guide their decision-making process in each investigation. Learn more about the Risk Assessment Framework

Depending on the results of the investigation, the ICRC can make a range of decisions with respect to the optician who is the subject of the complaint. These decisions can include:

  • Referral to a formal discipline hearing into allegations of professional misconduct or incompetencefind
  • Further investigation of possible mental or physical incapacity
  • A requirement to appear before a panel of the ICRC to be cautioned about conduct or the delivery of care
  • A requirement for continuing education or remedial training
  • A request to enter into an agreement with the College
  • Provide written advice and/or recommendations
  • Take no action 

The complainant and the subject of the complaint will receive a copy of the ICRC’s written decision.  Unless the decision was to refer the matter to Discipline Committee or to the Fitness to Practice Committee for incapacity proceedings, the ICRC will also provide the parties with written reasons for its decision.

Reviewing the Decision

If either party is dissatisfied with the decision, they have the right to request a review by the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board (HPARB), unless the matter has been referred to the Discipline Committee or the Fitness to Practice Committee.  A request for review must be made within 30 days of receiving the decision.

HPARB is an independent body established by the Ontario government and is separate from the College. Please contact HPARB directly for more information about the process for reviewing an ICRC decision.

Read more of what to do if you are the subject of a complaint


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