Dr. Verna Hunt, BSc DC ND
In the next few months naturopathic medicine will be moving from the Drugless Practitioner’s Act (DPA) to the Regulated Health Professions Act (RHPA) under the College of Naturopaths of Ontario (CONO). The decision to move naturopathic doctors under the RHPA was made in 2007 when the Naturopathy Act was passed.
Naturopathic medicine has been regulated in Ontario since 1925. Since that time it has been regulated under the DPA. In 1991, the RHPA was created. Most health professions, both those that were previously regulated under a different Act and those newly regulated health professions, have been moved under the RHPA. Naturopathic doctors are one of the last health professions to move under the RHPA. Naturopathic doctors have been looking forward to moving under the RHPA. There are many advantages and opportunities for intra-professional collaboration; and the move should benefit patient care. The Naturopathy Act, 2007 was passed with the understanding that naturopathic doctors would maintain their full scope of practice.
The Transition Council for the College of Naturopaths (tC-CONO), the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors (OAND) and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) have spent a tremendous amount of time over the last eight years, with input from various stakeholders, on ensuring that naturopathic doctors maintain their scope of practice and that their regulations fit within the framework of the RHPA.
When proclamation happens in the next few months we will have a clear definition of the scope of naturopathic medical practice and the parameters under which naturopathic doctors will be allowed to practice. Under the current draft Controlled Acts Regulation naturopathic doctors will continue to be able to do the following:
- Naturopathic diagnosis
- Gynecological exams
- Rectal exams
- Naturopathic manipulation
- Administering, by injection or inhalation, a prescribed substance
- Taking blood samples for the purpose of prescribed naturopathic examinations
Overall, naturopathic doctors are being recognized as primary care practitioners under the RHPA and the draft Controlled Acts Regulation includes all the controlled acts that naturopathic doctors require in order to maintain their scope of practice.
The concern is around access to laboratory tests and drawing blood samples in the clinic. For the last 50 years, naturopathic doctors have had full access to all laboratory tests provide by external laboratory companies. Additionally, they have had access to the full list of laboratory tests offered by Ontario licensed laboratories for the last 20 years.
Although naturopathic doctors will have the controlled act of taking blood samples, the recommendation of the MOHLTC is that there be a defined list of laboratory tests that naturopathic doctors will be able to access. Instead of having full access to all laboratory tests, NDs will be restricted to a limited number of laboratory tests.
The focus of the MOHLTC has been on laboratory tests already offered by Ontario licensed labs. These tests include labs such as Complete Blood Count (CBC), testing for cholesterol, blood sugar, inflammation markers, liver enzymes, etc; general blood work that NDs use all the time.
Our concern, and where we need your help and of all members of the public, is the following:
- External laboratories offer a full range of testing for environmental toxins, metabolic testing, detailed hormone testing and leading-edge tests. We are concerned that the access to external laboratory testing will either be extremely limited, or will be removed altogether.
- Without these tests naturopathic doctors are limited in their ability to access testing required for a full assessment, to properly diagnose the causal factors of disease and to create and monitor an effective treatment plan.
- Patients are limited in their ability to work with their naturopathic doctor to determine the role that environmental toxins are having on their health and how they can improve their overall health. Patients will also be extremely limited in their access to testing for cancer risk or aging factors.
- Naturopathic doctors currently have the ability to take blood samples in their clinic and then send them directly to either an Ontario licensed lab or an external lab for analysis. There is a concern that drawing blood and taking specimen samples will be taken away.
The deadline for responding to the draft Controlled Acts Regulation is May 15th. We require your support to influence government so that your rights and your access to the full spectrum of naturopathic care are protected.
Please send an email, or a letter, to the MOHLTC and the tC-CONO this week and let them know that you support our concerns.
- Ministry of Health and Long Term Care at RegulatoryProjects@ontario.ca
- College of Naturopaths of Ontario at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Also, write to your local MPP asking them to ensure you have access to the health care you have chosen. Listing of Ontario MPPs.
There has been a lot of tremendous amount of work done to move the naturopathic profession under the RHPA. Please support us in this last step.
If you have any questions, please give me a call or email us at email@example.com.
Thank you for your support,
Dr. Verna Hunt, BSc DC ND