Legislative Reform

Changing the Veterinarians Act

In late 2022, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) announced the Veterinarians Act, RSO 1990, was open for public consultation. By asking Ontarians to provide feedback on the Act, the province has started the process of considering changes that will impact veterinary medicine, and we are a part of it. The OAVT has a positive relationship with OMAFRA and is one of the leaders in these consultations alongside the College of Veterinarians of Ontario (CVO) and the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA).

Right now, we have an opportunity to help create a future-ready framework of regulations that can help address the increasing demand for veterinary services and professionals. One where the profession of Registered Veterinary Technicians, spanning all sectors of industry, are included. And one that will empower teams to expand delegation to RVTs to serve their patients and the public to the fullest extent of their credential.

The current Veterinarians Act does not distinguish between RVTs and other staff.

We know that veterinary medicine is widely practiced through healthcare teams. Yet, the current Act states that anyone providing veterinary care who is not a veterinarian is considered an auxiliary. That means RVTs are auxiliaries under the Act, even though their education and credential distinguish their knowledge, skills and expertise from other roles in the same team.

We cannot continue to advance veterinary medicine in Ontario with legislation that creates a gap in transparency and accountability to the public, who may not understand the differences between the education and skillset of the auxiliaries (RVTs and uncredentialled individuals) they trust their animals with.

Our vision is an Act that reflects veterinary medicine as a team of professionals working together with independent scopes of practice. These changes of being co-providers of care would also support RVTS as professionals co-accountable to the public.

What will happen to the OAVT if the planned changes to the Veterinarians Act are implemented?

When the planned changes to modernize the regulation of veterinary medicine are implemented, the OAVT will transition to be the professional association for RVTs and the body that accredits RVT educational programs in the province in addition to other member services focused activities. Currently, the OAVT also regulates RVTs, ensuring only those who meet training, educational (including continuing education) and exam requirements are able to be registered and use the title Registered Veterinary Technician.

What is the role of a professional association?

The primary role of a professional association is to serve and advocate for its members. A professional association decides its own direction, meaning its mandate is driven by its membership and those elected to the Board. Examples of activities undertaken by a professional association may include:

  • Educational opportunities such as the OAVT annual conference and the RVT Journal
  • Perks and Benefits including liability insurance, human resource consulting, legal advice, or discounts on scrubs
  • Wage related initiatives for example the OAVT wage and compensation survey

What is the role of a regulator?

The role of a regulator is to protect the public interest. A regulator has a mandate to protect the public by ensuring the care or service they receive from the professional (the RVT) are competent and ethical, and meet professional standards. Examples of activities undertaken by a regulator may include:

  • Set the requirements for becoming an RVT in Ontario and ensure registrants meet them.
  • Ensure registrant’s awareness of their accountabilities to deliver safe, competent, ethical care.
  • Ensure registrants engage in continuous professional improvement and education throughout their careers.
  • Develop and set standards of practice for the profession.
  • Respond to concerns about RVT conduct, competence, and fitness to practice.

Why can’t we self-regulate and have the OAVT continue as our regulatory and professional association moving forward?

The OAVT will continue in its current role until legislative reform is able to be achieved. In order to realize our objective of seeing official recognition of RVTs in Ontario legislation and regulations, as well to more accurately reflect current practice and strengthen public protection, legislative reform is required. Through legislative reform, a new regulatory body will be established; one that regulates both veterinarians and RVTs together. 

How can we be sure that the RVT voice will be heard if our regulatory body changes and we no longer self-regulate?

The OAVT has worked collaboratively with the College of Veterinarians of Ontario and the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association through the Legislative Reform Implementation Advisory Group for the past two years, and for years before that, to ensure that the voice of RVTs is heard and represented as we work towards a new regulatory framework. Throughout all of this, RVTs have been involved. Going forward, the OAVT, as the professional association, will continue to advocate on behalf of RVTs.

Why do we have to change the Veterinarians Act? Are there any changes the OAVT can make without changing the act?

In order to see the changes for which the OAVT has been advocating for many years, including recognition of the profession in the province’s legislative and regulatory framework, the Veterinarians Act must first be amended.

We have heard about Legislative Reform for years. Why are we still not there yet?

The OAVT has been working towards the goal of legislative reform for many years, but as legislative change needs to be driven by government and in particular the governing elected officials, we need to put our best efforts in to make the case that the time is now. Let the OAVT know if you’d like to get involved and email advocacy@oavt.org

Was the public and veterinary community asked about these changes?

Consultations with both the public and the veterinary community on a number of pieces related to legislative reform have occurred over the past number of years. For example, the College of Veterinarians of Ontario consulted widely on the legislative reform proposal, which can be found here. CVO has also led the consultations on other pieces including council composition and title protection.

OMAFRA released a detailed discussion paper online for public consultation that is available here: https://www.ontariocanada.com/registry/view.do?postingId=43867&language=en .The consultation period closed on May 30, 2023. 

The OAVT, along with our partners, the OVMA and the CVO, has worked to get meetings and share the data, testimonials, and information necessary to align the Government of Ontario with the need for changes to the Veterinarians Act. We need you to echo these messages, formally and informally:

  • The delivery of veterinary medicine contains two distinct professionals – veterinarians and Registered Veterinary Technicians (RVTs).
  • RVTs need amended legislation to create an expanded scope of practice that reflects their education and credentialed skillset.
  • RVTs cannot be lumped with auxiliary staff

Questions? Email advocacy@oavt.org 

We will continue to post the latest updates and communications regarding modernizing Ontario’s Veterinarians Act here:

Continue to check back for more resources to help you as the OAVT increases its advocacy efforts.

Advocacy is…

  • Acting or speaking in favour of a cause, idea, or policy
  • Attempting to influence outcomes such as public policy and resource allocation decisions.
  •  Telling your story to someone in government so that they are compelled to do (or not to do) something.

For an association like the OAVT, advocacy means building relationships with members of provincial Parliament (MPPs) and other government decision-makers and educating them about priorities for RVTs in Ontario.

Other resources

  • RVT Month 2023 Update from OAVT President Kirsti Clarida, RVT
  • This Spring 2021 episode of the CVO podcast with OAVT President Kirsti Clarida and OAVT Executive Director and Registrar Elise Wickett
  • February 2018 OAVT/CVO joint letter to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs- read here
  • April 2017 OAVT/CVO joint video discussing scope of practice consultations – watch here
  • May 2017 OAVT/CVO joint webinar (recorded): The Evolving Scope of Practice of Veterinary Medicine in Ontario – watch here
  • April 2017 OAVT/CVO joint podcast: The Evolving Scope of Practice of Veterinary Medicine in Ontario – listen here

In this section

Video: OAVT Executive Director Elise Wickett, MBA, RVT, and OAVT President Kirsti Clarida, RVT, discuss the legislative reform process and answer questions in this hour-long town hall meeting from Spring 2023

How do I become an RVT

Whether you are an Ontario student or internationally trained graduate, learn about the five steps it takes to become a Registered Veterinary Technician.

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RVT Registry

The official Registry of Ontario’s Registered Veterinary Technicians. All RVTs in good standing can be found in this searchable Registry.