Naturopaths Now Governed by the Regulated Health Professions Act

The Naturopathy Act, 2007 (the “Act”) came into force on July 1, 2015, establishing naturopathy as the 29th health profession in Ontario to be regulated under the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA). Unlike psychotherapy and homeopathy – two professions which also became regulated under the RHPA earlier this year – naturopathic medicine has been regulated in Ontario since 1925 under the Drugless Practitioners Act. During that time, naturopathic doctors were governed by the Ontario Board of Drugless Therapy – Naturopathy (“BDDT-N”). On July 1, 2015, the new College of Naturopaths of Ontario (the “College”) assumed the role of regulating the profession of naturopathy in Ontario and registrants of the BDDT-N automatically became members of the College.

Among its many powers, the College has the authority to register naturopaths, set the practice standards and guidelines to which naturopaths 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.

Now that the Act has been proclaimed, only individuals who are registered members of the College are permitted to use the protected titles “Naturopath” or “Naturopathic Doctor”. Any person who uses a protected title or holds themselves out as a naturopath or naturopathic doctor without being registered 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. Members of the College are allowed to use the title “Dr.”, but must ensure that the phrase “naturopathic doctor” or “ND” immediately follows his or her name.

Under the RHPA, the College is required to keep a public register on its website, which provides access to information about all naturopaths registered with the College, including information about a naturopath’s disciplinary history and any current restrictions on his or her practice. The College also has an Unauthorized Practitioner Register, which provides information about individuals who are not registered with the College but are holding themselves out to the public as naturopaths. This will also include publication of all applications made by the College for injunctions against illegal practitioners and any injunctions that have been granted.

In furtherance of the ongoing initiative of all Ontario health regulatory colleges, the College of Naturopaths has expressed a commitment to increasing transparency about its decisions and operations. The Transitional Council of the College adopted the transparency principles of the Advisory Group for Regulatory Excellence (“AGRE”) back in March 2014 and had already implemented a number of the AGRE’s recommendations on what information should be made publicly available before proclamation of the Act. In accordance with the College by-laws, criminal findings of guilt made by a court after April 1, 2015 of which the College is aware, and oral cautions and specified continuing education or remediation programs (“SCERP”) ordered by the College’s Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (“ICRC”), will be posted on the public register. The information about oral cautions will be removed from the register 2 years after the member appeared before a panel of the ICRC to receive the caution. For SCERPs, the information will be removed 2 years after the member successfully completed the SCERP.

For more information about the Act or if you have any questions about how the Act affects you or your practice, please contact us.

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