In October, the Ontario and British Columbia governments introduced significant changes to health professions’ regulatory frameworks. These changes will have major ramifications for how health professionals are regulated and what the registration process looks like moving forward in both provinces.

Ontario Announces Optimization of Registration Process for Physicians and Nurses

As part of the Ontario government’s “Plan to Stay Open: Health System Stability and Recovery” existing registration obstacles are being removed to create a faster and smoother registration process for health care professionals. Starting immediately, physicians from other provinces and territories can apply for the new temporary independent practice registration class that will allow them to work in Ontario for up to 90 days. Additionally, non-practicing and retired nurses will have an easier and cheaper application process for the reinstatement of their nursing licenses. Furthermore, internationally trained nurses can register for a temporary class of license and commence practicing earlier as they move towards a full class of license.

Further changes are coming In January and August 2023. Beginning on January 1, 2023, health regulatory colleges will have set time limits within which they will have to make registration decisions. With some exceptions, health regulatory colleges will no longer be allowed to require Canadian work experience as part of the registration process. Immigrants to Canada will also be allowed to use their language tests that are approved under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada) when providing their language proficiency evidence. On August 31, 2023, health regulatory colleges will introduce a new registration category to allow for faster registration in the event of a health workforce shortage during a future emergency. While these changes to the Ontario regulatory model signal a welcome means of handling the healthcare practitioners’ shortage, there will be adjustments for both regulators and professionals.

British Columbia Streamlines Regulation of Health Professions and Occupations

In British Columbia, the Health Professions Act, is being replaced with the Health Professions and Occupations Act, which creates a new independent discipline tribunal, oversight body and complaints process for regulated health professions. British Columbia currently has 15 regulatory colleges that regulate 25 health professions. With the implementation of this new Act, the regulatory colleges are continuing an ongoing process of amalgamation, which includes reducing the number of colleges to six. These changes, which have been in development over several years, are intended to streamline the regulatory process, improve governance systems, simplify information sharing and reduce patient confusion over the correct college to send complaints to.

The new colleges are as follows:

  1. The Oral Health Regulatory College (overseeing dental hygienists, dental surgeons, dental technicians and denturists);
  2. The Regulatory College of Allied Health and Care Professionals (overseeing dietitians, occupational therapists, opticians, optometrists, physical therapists, psychologists, speech and hearing health professionals);
  3. The Regulatory College of Alternative and Complementary Health and Care Professionals (overseeing chiropractors, massage therapists, naturopathic physicians, traditional Chinese medicine practitioners and acupuncturists);
  4. BC College of Nurses and Midwives (overseeing nurses and midwives) and
  5. College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC (overseeing physicians and podiatric surgeons).

At the time of posting this blog, Ontario has not announced a similar amalgamation of health profession regulatory bodies. We will continue to monitor these changes so as to best advise our clients.

At Mills & Mills LLP, our health lawyers regularly work with regulated health care professionals and regulatory colleges to address their regulatory, business and employment needs. To learn more about how we may be able to assist you, please reach out to us online or by telephone at (416) 863-0125.

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