The Regulation of Telepractice: An Update
Perspectives for the Professions
In June 2019, we reported on the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision in College of Optometrists of Ontario v Essilor Group Inc, where a company, primarily located in British Columbia, sold eyeglasses and contact lenses over the internet to individuals in Ontario without the involvement of optometrists or opticians registered in Ontario. In that decision, the Court of Appeal determined that Ontario’s legislation did not apply to the company.
At that time, and as noted in our prior report, the College of Optometrists of Ontario was applying for leave to the Supreme Court of Canada to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision. Earlier this month we learned that the Supreme Court of Canada denied the College’s application for leave to appeal. This means that the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision is now final.
Even now that it's final, the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision is not strictly binding on courts in Alberta. However, it is likely to be strongly influential. If applied here, the regulatory scheme in another province may determine whether professional services can be delivered in Alberta over the phone or internet. This creates complexity and may also undermine the authority of Alberta regulators to address public protection issues arising from phone or internet-based platforms. Field Law’s Professional Regulatory Group would be pleased to assist you in addressing the legal issues raised by telepractice or developing a strategy or plan for dealing with telepractice going forward.