Complaints

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We are here to help you…

The ACAO’s mission is to ensure that opticians provide safe and effective care to the public. As a result, it is also our duty to discipline members in violation of our rules. Please let the college know if you feel that your experience has violated our mission statement, or the practice competencies required of opticians. The ACAO investigates all complaints related to an optician’s professional practice. Furthermore, we can advise you of where to address complaints that don’t fall under our jurisdiction.

For a step by step look at how the ACAO complaints process works, please refer to our interactive Complaints Process Flowchart (Please note: This program works best in Firefox. Second best in Google Chrome. If you open the flowchart and elements of it are not working correctly, close it and try again — it may just need to cache first).

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Before you file a complaint, here are some things you should know…

What constitutes a complaint?

A complaint must include an explanation of the act or omission of a specific registered optician with respect to their practice. If you have grounds for a complaint, you need to submit it in writing to the ACAO.

Can I make an anonymous complaint?

Unfortunately, the ACAO cannot act on anonymous complaints. Accused opticians must be in a position to respond fully to the allegations; therefore they need to know who filed the complaint against them.

Can the ACAO make a dispensary give me back my money?

The ACAO regulates opticians and contact lens practitioners ( this includes non-practicing and provisional opticians). However, we have limited legal authority or jurisdiction over optical stores, dispensaries, corporations, or other non-optician owners or management. Unfortunately, the ACAO has no legal authority to deal with issues that are solely of a monetary nature. This includes prices, warranties, or refunds. We recommend that you take any concerns of that nature to the Better Business Bureau or the small claims court.

Can the ACAO give me information about an ongoing investigation?

The results of the disciplinary hearing may become a matter of public record, but we hold all information relating to the investigation and resolution of complaints in confidence. The ACAO may not make any information regarding ongoing and resolved complaint investigations public knowledge.

What is the difference between Unauthorized Practice and a Complaint?

A Complaint must contain the name of a registered member of the ACAO. However, if the complaint you wish to register is against a non-member, we can help you find the correct avenue.

 

 

 

Registering a Complaint

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What is the process for filing a complaint?

If you feel you have grounds, you may file a complaint against an optician through the ACAO office. Please submit your complaint in writing to the Complaints Director, and include details of the reason for the complaint.

The ACAO does not have jurisdiction to investigate concerns about business practices, financial matters, poor customer service, or manners. For this reason, we recommend that you refer these concerns to the manager of the practice.

Before the ACAO can take any action, we must receive the complaint in writing, either as a letter, fax, or e-mail (Health Professions Act, section 59). The ACAO is unable to act on verbal complaints.

 

 

Format for a Complaint

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What should a complaint look like?

The written complaint needs to include:

  • Complaintant’s full name, mailing address, and telephone contact information.
  • Complaintant’s signature and the date of the written complaint.
  • Name of the offending optician.
  • Optician’s business name, business address, and phone number.
  • Clear and concise details, and a summary of what happened. This could include the date and time of the incident, the order of events, and the names of any witnesses.
  • Any supporting documentation, such as copies of receipts and the products in question.

 

Please send all complaints to:

Attention: Complaints Director

Alberta College and Association of Opticians

201, 2528 Ellwood Dr SW

Edmonton, AB, T6X 0A9

 

E-mail: general@acoa.ca

 

 

 

Unauthorized Practice

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Only licensed professionals may fit and dispense in Alberta…

Fitting and dispensing eyeglasses, contact lenses, and subnormal vision devices to the public are restricted activities under Alberta law. Consequently, only registered members of these three regulatory bodies are authorized to practice the fitting and dispensing of corrective lenses:

  • Alberta College and Association of Opticians (ACAO)
  • Alberta College of Optometrists (ACO)
  • College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA)

Unregistered or unregulated persons who fit and dispense corrective lenses to the public are engaging in unauthorized practice, unless supervised by an authorized practitioner. Unlicensed practitioners are a risk to the safety and health of the Alberta public.

Anyone who engages in or who condones unauthorized practice places the public in harm’s way. It is the duty and responsibility of this college and its members to do everything possible to protect the public.

 

Report Unauthorized Practice…

The college encourages both the public and our members to report unauthorized practice. If you would like to file a report, please contact the ACAO by phone, fax, mail, or e-mail:

 

Attention: Complaints Director

Alberta College and Association of Opticians

201, 2528 Ellwood Dr SW

Edmonton, AB, T6X 0A9

 

Email: coa@opticians.ab.ca

 

 

Hearing Tribunal

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How does a complaint get resolved?

Ideally, we can resolve a complaint shortly after you bring it to us; the optician and complainant usually reach an agreement before any further action is taken. However, when a complaint cannot be resolved through the consensual resolution process, the Complaints Director may issue a citation for a disciplinary hearing.

Once a citation is issued, the Hearings Director coordinates the hearing and acts as an administrative support to the committee. In these circumstances, the ACAO’s hearing tribunal serves as the legal body that reviews the complaint, the investigative findings, and the accused optician’s response. At the hearing, the committee is presented with evidence about the complaint. Depending on their findings, they will then decide to either dismiss the complaint, or to take action as specified in the Health Professions Act. For example, they may decide to suspend or cancel the optician’s registration, or issue fines for misconduct.

Anyone can attend, but give notice…

Hearing tribunals are open to the public, and all decisions are a matter of public record. To ensure that there is adequate seating for all attendees, please notify the ACAO if you plan to attend, at least one week before the hearing date.

 

 

Disciplinary Hearing

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Public record…

After a disciplinary hearing has been resolved, the results may become a matter of public record. Please contact the college if you wish to view the full written decision of the discipline committee.

Prior disciplinary hearings…

A discipline hearing was held on April 7, 2014 in Edmonton, AB.