… and right now it’s not for the good.
I want to bring you up to speed on the changing face on naturopathic medicine in Ontario and ask for your support.
Naturopathic medicine is currently regulated in five Canadian provinces. In 2007, the Naturopathy Act was passed in Ontario and naturopathic doctors excitedly started to prepare for our transition from the old and dusty Drugless Practitioners Act (DPA) to the new and shiny Regulated Health Professions Act (RHPA). The transition has been very slow and the process laborious. In 2009, BC naturopaths became the first in the country to gain prescription rights and the Ontario NDs clapped and cheered hoping that we would be next. Within the last year our new scope and the new regulations have started to come to light (proclamation of that 2007 Act still hasn’t happened so we are still officially under the DPA) – and they are disheartening, to say the least.
Not only will we not be getting anything even remotely similar to the prescription rights of our BC colleagues, but to maintain our current scope of practice, we will have to take the very same prescription course and pass the very same prescription exam as they do. Now, I’m not afraid of the course and the test; I’m sure that the information will be immediately beneficial to my patients that are currently taking prescription medications. And, those who have been more involved in the process assure me that after we have all passed the exam it will be easier to have medications added to the list. But to have to do all of this extra work, to be able to continue prescribing vitamins D, A and B12 the same way that I have been since I started practicing, seems a little redundant. Some people wonder why we even want to be able to prescribe conventional medications since we are naturoapthic doctors, but there are times and circumstances that having access to antibiotics or thyroid medication (among others) would be helpful and mean less shuttling for patients between their MD and ND to deal with the same issue.
The real kicker is what is being done to our ability to order tests, both conventional and specialty. Our current list is 400 – it will be reduced to 80. This will DIRECTLY AFFECT OUR ABILITY TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT AND MONITOR OUR PATIENTS. I will no longer be able to perform the standard finger-prick food sensitivity test. I will not be able to run a saliva hormone panel. I will not be able to send samples out of province to all of the specialty labs that test: Lyme, cardiovascular risk assessment, gastrointestinal health panels, cortisol – this is just the list of tests that I have run over that last 12 months. There are dozens more that are important to monitor autoimmune conditions, assess patients with autism and ADHD, and provide accurate cancer care. Patients often seek out naturopathic medicine because conventional medicine has not been able to provide them with the answers they need – to limit our testing to just a fraction of the tests that are available to a medical doctor, will be limiting our ability to truly help these patients. This is not a financial issue. Tests ordered by naturopathic doctors are not covered by OHIP and will continue to be paid for by the patient.
Please take the time to click on the above link and complete the form, sending a letter of support to your local MPP and the Minister of Health. If you have a compelling story for how naturopathic medicine has improved your health, please consider sending an additional email or letter. We need as many supporters as possible to have their voices heard.
Thanks for reading.