July 1st, 2015 marked the beginning of a new and exciting era for Naturopathic Doctors! We are excited to share with you that on July 1st, 2015, the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care made the official announcement that the Naturopathic profession will move from operating under the Drugless Practitioners Act to the regulatory umbrella of the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991. This process has taken 8 years of hard work, dedication and endless discussions with the Ontario government. We now become a self-regulated healthcare profession under the RHPA similar to other health care professions such as physicians, chiropractors, pharmacists to name a few. This is an exciting time for the profession as we now join a community of nearly 300,000 health care professionals in Ontario who will fall under RHPA.
We want to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all of our clients and community members who advocated to their MPP’s and Ministry of Health to expand and maintain the Naturopathic scope of practice. Your letters, emails, phone calls have gone a long way to expand the proposed access to lab testing and therapeutic substances for Naturopathic clients.
Effective July 1st, 2015, Naturopathic Doctors will be regulated by the College of Naturopaths of Ontario (CONO), an arm’s length regulatory body of the government of Ontario with an independent Registrar and Council. CONO’s main responsibility is to regulate the profession of Naturopathic Medicine in the public interest.
“This is a long-awaited day for the profession of Naturopathic Medicine in Ontario,” said Dr. Alfred Hauk, Naturopathic Doctor and Chair of the OAND (Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors). “Proclamation will maximize the contribution of Naturopathic Doctors to the health and wellbeing of Ontarian's, provide added protections and safety to the public; it signals the proven safety and efficacy of Naturopathic Medicine and assists to ensure greater inter-professional collaboration”
Hon. Dr. Eric Hoskins, MPP St. Paul’s and Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care reiterated Dr. Hauk’s comments by saying: “Today is truly a milestone for Naturopathic Medicine in the province of Ontario. Our government respects alternative health therapies and the important services Naturopathic Doctors provide patients. Regulating the profession of naturopathy is part of Ontario’s Action Plan for Health Care, which puts people and patients first, provides better access to quality health services, and protects those services for generations to come. Bringing naturopathy under more robust legislation will ensure high quality care and brings important safeguards to protect patients”.
Now that we are officially under RHPA and have become a self regulated profession, what does this mean for you?
As part of the new regulations, you can be assured that Naturopathic Doctors will continue to undergo structured self-assessments and practice assessments on a regular basis. While most NDs are regularly performing their own self and practice assessments, this new structure will ensure that all NDs are practicing safely and effectively, and are following best practices. Moreover, under the RHPA, NDs will have a clearly defined role, with clearly defined rules. While naturopathic medicine is inherently quite safe, this ensures that NDs have the knowledge, skills, and judgement to perform the roles set out in the new Act.
Access to Ontario labs
NDs have been running labs with the help of MDs for years. Under the RHPA, NDs will be able to order most lab tests directly through Ontario labs, without having to go through a middleman. These tests will not be covered by OHIP. To comply with the Laboratory Act, NDs will no longer be able to collect blood samples in office, with the exception of certain point-of-care tests like blood glucose. With the way the Act is currently written, NDs will no longer be able to send samples to labs outside of Ontario. We do understand that this may cause inconvenience to some of you, but know that our clinic is working very hard to ensure this transition is as smooth as possible. While this limits some care, it is really quite important, as the Ontario government is not able to ensure the quality of any labs outside of their jurisdiction. The profession is actively working with the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care to find a solution that will enable access to certain labs, while ensuring the integrity of the facility. We are currently in discussion with a local lab (recognized by the government) to ensure we will be able to provide our patients easy access with respect to blood work requisitioned by your Naturopathic Doctor.
NDs have always had access to several controlled acts, including communicating a diagnosis, gynaecological and rectal exams, spinal manipulations, acupuncture, and administering substances through injection or inhalation. Under the RHPA, not only will NDs have access to all of those acts, but they will also be allowed to delegate some of them to associates. Furthermore, we are happy to say that we will continue providing IV therapy as part of our services.
NDs have not had prescribing rights in the past. Under the RHPA, NDs will have access to certain prescription substances after taking an extra course and passing the associated exam. NDs will have access to intramuscular injections, higher doses of vitamins like vitamin D (>1000 IU), vitamin A (>10,000 IU) and folic acid (>1mg), as well as thyroid hormone, bio-identical hormones, and some restricted herbs.
As a result of officially being under the RHPA, we now are positioned on the same “playing field” as the rest of the health care professions. In the future, we would expect that you will see better insurance coverage through your extended health care benefits, we will be able to accommodate for motor vehicle claims, be able to access additional prescribing rights and be part of a more formal referral system with medical doctors.
The future looks bright! We take great pride in serving the community of Brantford and surrounding area’s with high quality Naturopathic care. We look forward to continuing to work with you to create a healthier you and a healthier community!