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Changes to the Agreement on Internal Trade View Full Story Minimize
Posted: April 20, 2009 |

The College Explains Recent Changes to the AIT Nova Scotia Accredited Opticians Programs

The College would like to update you on the changes to the Agreement on Internal Trade (“AIT”) and how they may impact on the programs offered by Nova Scotia and other Province’s Opticians Programs.

In some recent correspondence circulated to the opticians programs throughout Canada. The correspondence suggests that there is a “new” AIT; this is not true.

Background - The Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT)

The AIT is an intergovernmental trade agreement between the Government of Canada and the provinces and territories which came into force in 1995. Its purpose is to reduce and eliminate to the extent possible, barriers to the free movement of persons, goods, services and investments within Canada. Since 1998, there have been amendments to the agreement in the form of protocols. The most recent protocols are the Ninth Protocol of Amendment: Labour Mobility (Chapter 7) and Tenth Protocol of Amendment: Dispute Resolution Mechanism (Chapter 17). It is the Ninth Protocol, which came into effect on April 1, 2009, which is at the heart of the correspondence that has circulated.

The Ninth Protocol of Amendment enables any worker certified for an occupation by a regulatory authority of one province to be recognized as qualified to practise that occupation by all other provinces. Any exceptions to full labour mobility have to be clearly identified and justified as required to meet a legitimate public policy objective such as public security and safety.

The effect of the adoption of this protocol is to formally bring into the AIT the principles that have existed in less formal form since the inception of the AIT. In other words, there is nothing “new” about the recent amendment to the AIT.

Background to the Mutual Recognition Agreement among Opticianry Regulators (the “MRA”)

By way of background, when the federal and provincial governments signed the AIT in the mid 1990’s they did so with the hope that professions would voluntarily do “the right thing” and adopt practices to ensure labour mobility. Opticians and Chiropractors, amongst others, quickly determined that it was in the best interests of their respective members, those seeking membership and the public, that registrants be able to move freely from the province in which they were educated and certified to any other province as their life circumstances changed.  The MRA is the mechanism for doing this. The purpose of the MRA is expressly to comply with the requirements of the AIT. All provincial regulators of opticians are signatories to the MRA. The MRA states as its purpose:

"The [parties] enter into this MRA in order to comply with our obligations under the Agreement on Internal Trade, Chapter 7 (Labour Mobility).  The purpose of this MRA is to establish the conditions under which an optician who is licensed in one Province or Territory in Canada will have his/her qualifications recognized in another Province or Territory in Canada...”

The MRA expressly recognizes NACO to assess the educational processes to ensure that there is a threshold level of competence and safety maintained across Canada for the protection of the public.  The MRA states:

"NACO will determine with full respect of the right and authority of the provincial and territorial regulatory bodies and of government legislation, which educational processes have a high degree of commonality and which assessment tools may be recognized as equivalent."

So, the AIT and the MRA work in tandem.  One does not replace the other, as suggested in some of the correspondence recently circulated.

The MRA speaks to the criteria by which the regulator in each province will recognize the preparatory schools in its province. By resolution, the Nova Scotia College of Dispensing Opticians (NSCDO) determined that to maintain accreditation those schools offering programs that lead to registration in NS must complete the NACOR accreditation process. If a teaching institution fails to complete the accreditation process within the amended time frames stipulated in the MRA the students from the school will no longer be eligible for registration. Absent registration in NS – graduates from programs will not be eligible to move to another province.
Comprenhensive Eye Health Examinations View Full Story Minimize
Posted: April 20, 2009 |

Information on the Frequency of Eye Examinations The NSCDO recognizes and supports eye health examinations for clients within the screening guide l ine s provided by the Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS).

The COS suggests low risk patients exhibiting no symptoms of underlying eye health or systemic problems, comprehensive eye health examinations should be conducted on individuals aged 19-40 years once every 10 years.

An individual age 41-55 years once every 5 years and for individuals age 55-65 years at least once every 3 years.
Crazy Contact Lenses View Full Story Minimize
Posted: January 15, 2009 |

Consumer Warning on Cosmetic Contact Lenses December 03, 2008

It's that time of year again....Halloween...and with it comes the temptation to use wild and colourful contact lenses to complete your costume. It's that time of year again....Halloween...and with it comes the temptation to use wild and colourful contact lenses to complete your costume. Don't let your fun turn into a disaster. Improper wear and care of contact lenses can put your eye health in danger. It is important to use contact lenses under the supervision of an eye care professional.

Click here for a consumer warning from the National Coalition for Vision Health
Nov. 2008 View Full Story Minimize
Posted: November 05, 2008 | NSCDO

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