Ontario Welcomes Foreign-Trained Optometrists

On September 14, 2012, a new Ontario regulation came into effect, allowing foreign-trained optometry graduates from recognized programs outside of Canada and the United States to practice in Ontario in “a fair and transparent process.”  This new regulation also provides optometrists already registered to practice in other provinces and territories to registration in Ontario as well.1

The International Optometric Bridging Program (IOBP) offered by the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry and Vision Science has modified its application process in light of these changes. The IOBP provides qualified, foreign-trained optometrists with a structured orientation to Canadian standards of optometric practice. The program also aims to provide these individuals with the opportunities to gain the critical language, academic and clinical skills to move forward to the Canadian Assessment of Competence in Optometry (CACO) examinations that are necessary for registration in all provinces and territories of Canada.

These new regulatory changes came not long after a formal academic review of the IOBP’s viability that was conducted in April 2012.  The review team concluded that the IOBP should be continued, “in support of government policy and community needs, values and aspirations.” However, it was recommended that the IOBP clarify whether only new Canadians should qualify for the bridging program (vs. returning Canadians) and whether foreign-trained ophthalmologists should qualify for the program if their qualifications are found to be substantially equivalent to those of optometrists in Canada (e.g., refractive ophthalmologists).

Currently, both foreign-trained and returning Canadians are qualified for the IOBP, as well as foreign-trained ophthalmologists, which have been a topic of much debate in the past.  The IOBP stated in a response to the final report that they will seek confirmation with the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration about whether or not this is acceptable.

More information about the recent change in regulation can be found on the College of Optometrists of Ontario’s website. 


  1. “New Ontario Regulation Opens Doors for Foreign-Trained Graduates in Optometry.” College of Optometrists of Ontario. Canada Newswire, 17 Sept. 2012. Web. 23 Oct. 2012. <http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1036947/new-ontario-regulation-opens-doors-for-foreign-trained-graduates-in-optometry>.


Scroll to Top