College of Homeopaths Established to Govern Homeopathy in Ontario

On April 1, 2015, the Homeopathy Act, 2007 (the “Act”) was proclaimed and the Transitional Council of the College of Homeopaths of Ontario officially became the new College of Homeopaths of Ontario.  Homeopathy joins the ranks of 27 other self-regulated health professions in Ontario that are governed by the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA).

According to a health bulletin from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, there are approximately 600 homeopaths in Ontario, which is the first province in Canada to regulate homeopathy.  Some critics have already expressed concern that this type of regulation will serve to legitimize a profession, which they say has no basis in science.  In spite of the scepticism, proclamation of the Act marks the beginning of a new era in accountability and public protection for patients who elect to seek treatment from homeopaths.

The College of Homeopaths is responsible for regulating the profession of homeopathy in Ontario in the public interest.  Among its many powers, the College has the authority to register homeopaths, set the practice standards and guidelines to which homeopaths will be expected to adhere, administer a quality assurance program, and receive and investigate complaints and reports regarding allegations of professional misconduct, incompetence and incapacity.  Any person may lodge a complaint with the College and the impugned member will then be subject to the complaints and discipline process set out in the RHPA.

It is important to note that, as of April 1, 2015, only individuals who have been issued a certificate of registration by the College can use the title “homeopath” and/or hold themselves out to the public as homeopaths.  This is another form of public protection, as patients can be assured that practitioners using the title homeopath have met standardized training and education requirements and are subject to the College’s oversight.

The College has advised homeopathic practitioners to remove the title from their business cards, email signatures and websites until their registration with the College has been confirmed and they have been issued a registration number.  A person who uses the title or holds themselves out as a homeopath without authorization is guilty of an offence under the Act and on conviction is liable to pay a fine of up to $25,000 for a first offence and $50,000 for a subsequent offence.

As of proclamation, the College’s website contains a public register, which provides public access to information about all homeopaths registered with the College, including information about a homeopath’s disciplinary history and any current restrictions on his her practice.  Additional information about homeopaths – such as criminal charges and criminal findings of guilt, and oral cautions and specified continuing education and remediation programs ordered by the College’s Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee – will likely soon be included on the public register as part of the College’s ongoing commitment to increasing transparency.  The Transitional Council of the College adopted the transparency principles of the Advisory Group for Regulatory Excellence back in November 2014 and its intention to implement the AGRE’s recommendations on what additional information should be made publicly available.

We will provide updates on our blog regarding these new developments as they unfold.

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