Frequently Asked Questions
How long does the complaints process take?
The Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee (ICRC) tries to dispose of a complaint within 150 days of its receipt by the College.
The College strives to resolve all complaints within the 150-day period. However, certain cases brought before the ICRC are more complicated than others and may require a longer period of time to thoroughly investigate the concerns raised and resolve it in a manner that best protects the public interest.
The ICRC panel may be able to come to a decision at its first meeting or may need further information from the complainant or from the optometrist. More than one ICRC panel meeting may be needed to reach a decision.
The complainant and the optometrist involved will be notified of any delay, the reasons for the delay and the expected date of the panel’s decision.
Should that delay exceed 210 days, the College is required to provide the parties to the complaint and the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board (HPARB) with notice of the delay and the reasons for it. HPARB can then: (i) direct the panel of the ICRC to continue to investigate the complaint; (ii) make recommendations to the ICRC or (iii) initiate its own investigation into the matter.
Does the College reimburse complainants or optometrists for costs incurred in the course of dealing with a complaint?
The complainant and the optometrist are not charged for the costs associated with processing and disposing of the complaint. Similarly, the College does not reimburse the complainant or the optometrist for costs they incur while responding to the complaint.
Do complaints against an optometrist remain confidential?
No. As part of our public protection mandate, the College is committed to enhancing transparency.
The objective of transparency is to ensure that Ontarians have access to relevant, timely, useful, and accurate information about their health care providers, which will enhance their ability to make informed decisions about their health care. Therefore, more information about optometrists is now available to the public. This includes the outcomes of the investigations that the ICRC assesses as moderate to high risk to the public (such as cautions, specified continuing education and remedial programs, and undertakings) for all complaints received by the College on or after January 1, 2017.
Does the ICRC consider any previous complaints submitted against an optometrist?
The ICRC is required to consider all available prior complaint and report decisions involving the optometrist who receives a new complaint or report.
The optometrist is given an opportunity to comment on these prior decisions (if there are any). Information about prior decisions is not disclosed to the complainant.
How does the College deal with anonymous complaints against an optometrist?
The ICRC does not initiate a complaints investigation in cases where the complainant is anonymous. However, if the Registrar becomes aware of information involving an optometrist that gives the Registrar reasonable and probable grounds to believe that the optometrist has committed professional misconduct or is incompetent, the Registrar may initiate an investigation, with the ICRC’s approval.
Can information gathered by the College or the decision issued by the ICRC be used in Court?
No. In accordance with Section 36(3) of the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991, no report or decision of a proceeding under that act or any other health professions act or the Drug and Pharmacies Regulations Act is admissible in a civil proceeding.
What if a complainant or optometrist is unhappy with a decision of the ICRC?
If a complainant or the optometrist believes that the ICRC panel’s investigation was inadequate or the decision was unreasonable, they may request a review by the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board (HPARB), an independent government agency. Appeals are available except in cases where the ICRC panel referred the matter to the Discipline Committee or Fitness to Practice Committee.