Q: What is My ACAO Profile?
A: Every Licensed Optician has now been provided with a personal login for their profile to be able to keep track and monitor their CE credits file, register/renew, register for upcoming events and update your personal, contact, and employer information.
Login here: My ACAO Profile
If you do not have your username or password to login to your ACAO Profile, please contact the office.
Q: How many credits do I need to fulfill my continuing education requirements?
A: A licensed optician requires 20 credits for every 3 year con-ed cycle. 12 of these credits must be in the EG or EC category. The other 8 can be from any category the ACAO approves. Contact lens practitioners require an additional 15 credits in the CL or EC category.
Q: What do EG, CL, EC and RF stand for?
- EG stands for eyeglass. That is any credit that relates to the manufacturing, fitting or dispensing of eyeglasses. It may also include pathology or anatomy / physiology areas especially related to eyeglasses.
- CL stands for Contact lenses. That is any credit that relates to the manufacturing, modifying, fitting, cleaning or dispensing of contact lenses.
- EC stands for any course that can be used as either Eyeglass or Contact Lens. These are generally in the areas of Ocular Pathology, Anatomy, Physiology, Pharmacology or Refraction.
- RF stands for Related Field. That is any credit that is involving a field related to opticianry. That is optometry, ophthalmology or medical i.e. CPR. It can also be any credit that is sales, motivation, or business related.
Q: Can I carry over any of my excess credits to the next three-year term?
A: Yes, you may carry over a maximum of five credits in the EG category and a maximum of five credits in the CL category.
Q: Do I still need credits if I am Non-Practicing status?
A: You are required to have your continuing education credits up to date to maintain your non-practicing status. This ensures that no matter what the length of time you are away, you will be prepared with the skills to enter back into practice.
Q: Why would credits be necessary if I am not practicing?
A: The point of continuing education is to be sure that your knowledge is up to date and to the current levels of acceptable safety. When you reinstate or upgrade your license, if your credits are up to date we know that you have kept your knowledge current.
Q: How can I be sure that I am credited for courses that I have taken?
A: Make sure to send one copy of your Accreditation Form to the college office and keep one for yourself. Every Licensed Optician has now been provided with a personal login for their My ACAO Profile to be able to keep track and monitor their CE credits file. If a course is missing you can then contact the office for further verification.
Q: How can I have a course approved before I attend it?
A: The Quality Assurance Committee has a form that can be filled in and sent for pre-approval of a course.
Q: What does the Alberta College and Association of Opticians do for me?
A: The ACAO has been designated by the government to protect the public. We do this by regulating Opticians, thereby making sure that they have the education and practical skills necessary to protect the health and safety of the public. The ACAO ensures that opticians keep up with new technical innovations and advancements in the practice. We also expect opticians to maintain high levels of professionalism and ethical behavior.
Q: Who pays for regulation?
A: Opticians pay annual membership fees. Registration and payment of fees are mandatory in order to practice. Through these mandatory fees, we are able to administer continuing competency, organize volunteers, settle disputes, and more.
Q: I am an Optician in Alberta but will be working in Saskatchewan, do I need licenses in both Provinces?
A: You must have a valid license in the province where you are practicing. If you are practicing in two provinces you mush carry a valid license for each.
Q: What is the AGM?
A: AGM stands for Annual General Meeting; we meet once a year. AGM is a public forum to air grievances and to discuss and vote on important issues. The AGM is scheduled for the first Sunday in May each year.
Q: How is this meeting run?
A: In order to introduce a special motion to the agenda, any twenty members in good standing may deliver written notice to the Registrar thirty days before the meeting. This meeting is conducted much like a board of directors meeting. We deal with old business first. Following that, directors report on their particular area. These reports include updated decisions made over the year and any progress in projects.
We welcome questions at this time. We review the financial statement and answer any questions. Any new business is discussed and voted on. The voting then takes place for new directors. We accept proxy and mail in ballots to allow more members to participate in such an important decision. With the introduction of the Health Professions Act we are hoping that online voting by computer will be available to further make this vote accessible.
Q: What are the requirements to be able to attend the AGM?
A: In order to attend the general meeting you must be a member in good standing of the ACAO. Only practicing members may vote.
Q: How are Directors chosen? How long is a term?
A: Directors‘ terms are for three years, and two consecutive terms are permitted. A council member may be removed by a three quarters vote of council for conflict of interest or failing to attend to duties as a director. A council member may resign at any time with written notice. The council decides, from among their ranks, who will hold the position of president and vice president for one year of their terms on the board. Directors may hold their positions consecutively.
Q: What are the Nomination and Voting Procedures?
A: We request names in advance. You must submit a nomination in writing at least ninety days before elections; the nominee and five other members in good standing must sign the nomination. We will mail each member a ballot at least thirty days before elections. The ballot must be placed in a sealed envelope, signed on the outside and received before voting closes.
Q: What is Field Supervision?
Q: How many students may one supervisor have under them?
A: One supervisor may have two eyeglass students. One supervisor may have one eyeglass and one contact lens student provided they hold a valid contact lens license. A contact lens student may supervise one eyeglass student while taking their course.
Q: I am a second year student, who has all my fitting hours, but I have not completed my final or practical exam; can I fit without supervision?
A: No, you must have supervision until you are licensed.
Q: What is The National Association of Canadian Optician Regulators (NACOR)?
A: NACOR is an association of regulatory bodies with the goal of developing ways to make the mobility of Optician licenses from province to province in Canada a reality. Each province’s Regulatory Body has one seat and one vote in NACOR.
Q: What is the National Examination Committee?
A: The National Examination Committee (NEC) is a subcommittee of NACOR. The purpose of the National Examination Committee is to develop and maintain an examination, which will facilitate mobility. 9 of the 10 provinces, excluding Quebec, now accept the National Optical Sciences Examinations. We consider the exam in Quebec equivalent to the NACOR exam.
Q: Can Opticians sign off for passports?
A: Any member of the public can sign off for a passport as long they follow current government guidelines. Please visit the Government of Canada website for further information.
Q: If a patient wants to get new glasses with a prescription that is over two years old at one optical store, and another optical store has the prescription and won’t release it, what is the policy on this?
A: It doesn’t matter how old the prescription is, it belongs to the patient. It is the patient’s decision what they want to do with their prescription; the stores do not have a say in who can make the glasses. However, there are rules about privacy and safety that opticians must follow. If you would like to file a grievance, please read the frequently asked questions on our Complaints and Disciplines page to make sure that you have grounds, or contact us if you have any further questions.
Q: How long do I keep patient records?
A: At this point the Standards of Practice currently state that patient records should be kept for 10 years. However, this may eventually change, as our Standards of Practice are currently under review.
Q: A patient is covered by a third party contract (such as NIHB, Human Services, etc.) but the optician says they don’t participate in the third party contracts? How can this be?
A: The ACAO facilitates third party contracts in an effort to ease financial strain on patients who need those benefits. While we would love for all opticians to be able to participate in these third party contracts, it is not always possible, particularly for independent and small business opticals. Some jobs are covered so that the optical won’t lose money, but there are some jobs that require extra care and expense, and will end up costing the optician. We encourage opticians to try to honour these third party contracts if possible, because it is our social responsibility to help those who need it, but some find that they cannot offset the cost of the more difficult and expensive jobs.
In the interest of fairness, we expect any optician that decides to opt out of the contract, to notify the third party in writing that they will not be taking part. This shows that the optical is not picking and choosing whom they service but rather, is choosing not to take part on any level of servicing the contract. By the same token, opticians should notify their intention of taking part if they have cancelled in the past, by way of written notification.
Are you thinking about opening a dispensary, but you’re unclear about the rules? Do you have to be an eye health professional? Do you have to employ an eye health professional?
If you employ opticians, are you aware of the legislation that governs health professionals, and your responsibilities under it as an employer? The ACAO wants to ensure that your optical dispensary dreams get off the ground safely and legally. We’ve put together this FAQ to assist those who employ opticians, those who own and/or operate an eyewear store or dispensary, and those who may be considering doing so:
Q. Who is authorized to dispense prescription eyewear in Alberta?
Dispensing prescription eyewear is a restricted activity; only opticians, optometrists, and ophthalmologists (medical doctors who specialise in eye health) are legally authorized to dispense corrective lenses in Alberta.
Q. Do I have to be an optician/optometrist/doctor in order own or operate an eyewear store or dispensary?
No, anyone can own or operate a store or dispensary that sells eyewear. Non-prescription eyewear such as sunglasses, or minor correction reading glasses, can be sold at any number of locations. At an optical dispensary, as long as there is a regulated eye health professional dispensing the eyewear, the owner/operator does not have to be regulated.
Q. Can I operate my store without involving an optician/optometrist/ophthalmologist?
Yes, however it is important to be aware that in order to dispense corrective lenses, the health legislation requires that an optician, optometrist or medical doctor (ophthalmologist) be involved. You may sell eyeglass frames or non-prescription eyewear (for example, non-prescription sunglasses) without the involvement of an authorized regulated health professional.
Q. How do I know whether my employee, business partner, or associate is authorized to practice as an optician in Alberta?
All regulated health professions are required to maintain a public register that provides information regarding all registered members of their college. The ACAO’s public register indicates whether a member is entitled to practice in Alberta, may indicate where they work, and will show whether there are any terms, conditions, or limitations on the member’s certificate of registration. The ACAO’s Public Register can be found online here.
Q. What legal obligations do I have as someone who employs opticians or who owns or operates an eyewear store or dispensary?
Anyone who employs opticians or operates an eyewear-related business should get in touch with a qualified legal professional for advice regarding their legal duties and obligations. We will list some key obligations here, but this list is not meant to be exhaustive, and you should not rely solely on what you find below to inform you of your duties:
- Employers must inform the ACAO if an optician has been fired or quits due to actions that may constitute unprofessional conduct: Section 57(1) of the Health Professions Act (HPA) states that if, because of conduct that in the opinion of the employer is unprofessional conduct, the employment of a regulated member is terminated, suspended, or the regulated member resigns, the employer must give notice of that conduct to the complaints director of the ACAO.
- If the unprofessional conduct would be considered sexual abuse or sexual misconduct, an employer must inform the college as soon as possible: Section 57 (1.1) of the HPA states that an employer who has reasonable grounds to believe that the conduct of a regulated member constitutes unprofessional conduct based on behaviour that, in the employer’s opinion, is sexual abuse or sexual misconduct must, as soon as possible, give notice of that conduct to the complaints director.
- Section 96 of the HPA states that an employer must not knowingly require their regulated employee to contravene an order given by a hearing tribunal or council; this means that if your employee has restrictions placed on them, or has their license stripped, you are not allowed to ask them to perform tasks that they are no longer licensed to perform.
- Section 102 of the HPA requires regulated members to not engage in advertising that is untruthful, inaccurate or otherwise capable of misleading or misinforming the public. Standard 5.6 of the opticians’ Standards of Practice further clarifies that all marketing and promotional material must be clear, accurate, truthful, complete, and not misleading. This means that marketing and promotion by an optician or on behalf of an optician needs to:
- act in the best interest of the patient,
- claim only those skills authorized by the College,
- be in good taste ,
- accurately represent the value of the product or service being offered ,
- maintain the integrity of the profession, and
- not claim superiority over another optician or health professional.