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Update on OATA Specialties Submission

The College has previously provided information about its review of a submission from the Ontario Athletic Therapist Association (OATA) concerning authorization of a specialty. The submission was made under the Specialties Assessment Framework.

Background on specialties

Registrants practice in a number of different areas of kinesiology, including athletic therapy. The submission from OATA, which represents about 300 registrants in the College, proposes that the College authorize use of a specialty title for athletic therapists to strengthen public protection.

The College understands that as professions develop and as the practice of kinesiology evolves, some practitioners may reach a level of expertise that is recognized across the profession as “expert”. This recognition within the profession does not require “authorization” by the regulator. The regulator’s interest relates to the expertise necessary to perform functions within the scope of practice. If, as the profession evolves, functions expand within the scope of practice and specialized knowledge and expertise are required, the regulator has a role to play to restrict that area of practice to those with the specialized competencies to practice safely. This is addressed in different ways by regulators. In some instances, a specialty title is authorized for use by those individuals who meet specified criteria.

Review of OATA’s submission

OATA’s submission is being reviewed by the College’s Specialties Committee. The College’s power to consider requests for a specialty or class of registration is defined in Clause (e) of subsection 95(1) in the Health Professions Procedural Code. This section gives colleges the power, subject to review and approval with government, to make regulations defining specialties in the profession, among other matters related to specialties. When making all decisions, the College’s primary concern is public protection and what is in the public interest.

The Specialties Committee must be rigorous in its work and Council must be both rigorous and thoughtful in its review ensuring that stakeholders, the public and the profession see the authorization of a specialty as necessary for public protection.

The Specialties Committee has met four times to review the OATA’s submission. The Committee received information from OATA concerning the specific aspects of practice that may be unique to those who are certified athletic therapists, including how risk is manifested in the client population. The College has met with interested stakeholders and sought additional information from OATA, the Canadian Association of Athletic Therapists, educators and practitioners. The Committee will, as it moves forward, consider both education and certification requirements. Once the Committee completes its evaluation, it will present its observations and findings to Council.

Next steps

Once Council receives a final report from the Specialties Committee, if it decides to proceed with this or any future submission to the next stage under the framework, Council will initiate a consultation process. If after extensive consultation Council decides to proceed with a specialty, a regulation will be drafted, circulated for comment, revised as necessary, and submitted to the Ministry of Health for consideration. All stakeholders are consulted regarding a draft regulation including other health profession regulators, professional associations, the Office of the Fairness Commissioner and the public.

The College understands that the Ministry of Health will be rigorous in its review of a draft regulation. Regulation must be proven to be the only and the best solution to a defined concern of public interest.

We strongly encourage anyone with questions about this process to contact the College directly. You may reach us via email. You may also review Council minutes and Council summaries for information about Council’s discussions on OATA’s submission.

In keeping with our commitment to transparency, we are sharing our most recent communication to the OATA and the CATA on this matter:

April 2020 update on specialties

At its March 30, 2020 meeting, Council reviewed a report from the Specialties Committee on the OATA submission. Below are the highlights from the report:

On April 18, 2020, the College’s Registrar presented at the OATA Annual General Meeting. The presentation focused on the College’s progress and process to-date in considering the OATA’s proposal; a detailed explanation of the criteria the College is considering; and next steps. View the full presentation.