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Modernizing oversight of the veterinary profession

The College Council welcomes the provincial government’s announcement on November 21, 2022 committing to the modernization of the regulation of the veterinary profession in Ontario

The College Council has been working towards the modernization of its governing legislation for several years and forwarded recommendations to the province in 2018. The College, along with the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians and the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association, are working collaboratively on modernization to strengthen public protection and more accurately reflect current veterinary practice.

The College Council sees legislative reform as an opportunity to provide the public and the veterinary profession with:

  • better protection of animal welfare
  • clarity in the role of veterinary technicians and recognition for their skillset on the veterinary team
  • a more streamlined approach to managing investigations and their resolutions
  • improved access to low-risk health care options for animal owners
  • increased accountability and transparency
  • modernized and enhanced governance

Responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

As a regulatory college, the College of Veterinarians of Ontario has legal authority through its governing legislation, the Veterinarians Act. While the College can identify the need for legislative changes, it is ultimately the responsibility of the provincial government to revise the governing legislation. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs has oversight of the Veterinarians Act. The College is pleased the provincial government is committed to modernizing the legislation, so it more accurately reflects the realities of veterinary practice today.

Reviewing the governing legislation is a significant and impactful task that can impact the delivery of veterinary medicine in Ontario well into the future. The College encourages licensed members and the public to learn about the process and to participate in the province’s consultations.

What’s new?

On November 22, 2023, the Hon. Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs opened consultation on potential changes to the Veterinarians Act. Following this initial feedback period, a discussion paper that outlines the proposed changes in more detail will be posted on the Regulatory Registry in 2023 for further review and comment.

In the first phase of consultations, the government is looking for feedback in the following key areas:

  • The scope of practice for veterinary medicine, such as the procedures, services and processes a licensed veterinarian or other veterinary professional, such as a veterinary technician, is permitted to perform in Ontario.
  • How to improve accountability and transparency to make sure that powers, responsibilities, and processes under the Act are clear to the public.
  • How to align oversight of the Ontario veterinary profession with other self-governing regulated professions in the province to ensure that the veterinary profession continues to be overseen in the public interest.

Regulation of the veterinary profession – relevant dates

1877 – veterinary medicine regulated with the first Agriculture and Arts Act

1989 – most recent update to the Veterinarians Act

2014 – College Council launches a process to modernize the oversight of the veterinary profession

2014-2018 – Council approves recommendations for legislative reform through analysis and consultations

2018 – College Council, in collaboration with the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians, sends 19 recommendations, compiled in Achieving a Modern Approach to the Regulation of Veterinary Medicine in Ontario to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

2020 – College Council continues research and consultation on further recommendations for legislative reform looking at Council composition, title protection, and defining incompetence.

July 2022 – Province announces changes to Regulation 1093 relating to advertising and accreditation.

November 2022 – Province invites feedback on potential improvements to the current legislative and regulatory framework including better defining the scope of practice for veterinary medicine, improving the complaints and resolutions process, addressing quality assurance in the legislation, and improving the overall governance of the College of Veterinarians of Ontario

Next Steps:

2023 – extensive consultation on a discussion paper circulated by the provincial government

The College recognizes the modernization of the College’s governing legislation is an extensive undertaking for the Government of Ontario. The College welcomes the opportunity to support the consultation and to assist the government to move the project forward.

New Podcast

In this podcast, Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of the College, Jan Robinson, is joined by John Stevens, Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association and Elise Wickett, Executive Director and Registrar of the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians. They discuss the ongoing consultation and progress towards the modernization of the regulation of the veterinary profession in Ontario.