Health Reform Observer (June 2017): Expanding Scope of Practice for Ontario Optometrists

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By Emily Catherine Bray & Ivy lynn bourgeault


In 2011, The Optometry Act, 1991 was amended to include The Designated Drugs and Standards of Practice Regulation which expanded the scope of practice for Ontario optometrists to include prescribing privileges from a specific list of drugs. The goals of the optometry reform were to increase access to care, decrease burden on medical and hospital resources and allow optometrists to practice to their full scope. The policy response was spurred by a recommendation from the Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council and the prescribing precedence in other Canadian jurisdictions. Bill 171, The Health Systems Improvement Act, amended The Optometry Act, 1991, Section 4 to include the authorized act of prescribing designated drugs, while The Designated Drugs and Standards of Practice, passed on 6 April 2011, listed the individual drugs optometrists are authorized to prescribe. The resulting response of a specific list of authorized drugs was seen as a limiting and inflexible system that will require changes as newer drugs are developed. 

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