“I’m not joining this year because I don’t need the Professional Liability insurance now that my employer covers me. And what does the association spend our money on, and what do they do for me?”
It’s that time of year again when we are asked to join or renew our membership in the OOA and OAC. When I speak with opticians here in Ontario, and across Canada, I’m both heartened and concerned with the comments I hear about why, and why not, an optician joins. From the majority of our members I’m told it’s a no brainer as to why they are joining. They understand that it’s not just the tangible member benefits like free professional liability insurance, or discounts at educational events, but it’s the benefit of a collective voice. Opticians work in different practice models, but at the end of the day, a common theme runs through our community, and that is we all work hard solving our client’s vision problems through the day leaving few hours for our personal lives, let alone getting involved. We need to support those who are able to do the heavy lifting. This is where some of your membership money goes.
Most opticians don’t have time to review and research regulations, standards and bylaws when given the opportunity by the College of Opticians of Ontario (COO). Who has time to write letters and meet with politicians and bureaucrats at the Ministry of Health? The OOA and the OAC are our collective voice when it comes to the representation of our profession. This past year your OOA spent quite a bit of time and financial resources reviewing draft regulations, standards, bylaws and policies proposed by the COO. Of course the COO doesn’t implement all of our recommendations, but we have an obligation to always try to effect positive change whenever possible to ensure our profession thrives within a fair, safe regulatory system. This doesn’t happen without the support of opticians. This is where some of your membership money goes.
Last weekend Toronto hosted Canadian Opticianry’s national meetings and Vision Canada. At these meetings representatives from the National Association of Canadian Regulators (NACOR), the Canadian Association of Opticianry Educators (CAOE), and the Opticians Association of Canada (OAC) met to discuss the current state of and future of Canadian Opticianry. All three groups have their own mandates, points of view, and agendas. With the multiple opinions, coming from multiple perspectives, consensus was reached on many issues addressed, with others requiring more dialogue. The format of the conference provides for both meetings of all three groups in one forum, and also the opportunity for the three groups to meet individually. Ontario opticians were there with a voice. This is where some of your membership money goes.
It’s understandable that with the cost of your registration with the COO going up, once again, you are concerned with what it now costs you to earn a living. Another membership fee is not what you need now. But your membership is needed in order for your associations to represent you. Opticians need a collective voice in order for our profession to stay relevant and grow as others do in the eye care field. Just looking at the savings when attending educational events, you’ll find that your membership fee is very affordable.
I could go on and list all the member benefits, both financially tangible, and the intangible. But I have to come back again to the point that we must have a voice. Without it others will be making the decisions about our future. Don’t ride on the backs of your fellow opticians, renew now.
And by the way. History has shown that not having your own professional liability insurance doesn’t always work out well when an optician finds themself in a situation requiring coverage.
All the best for the remainder of this year, and I hope 2017 brings health, happiness, and success to you and your family.
Lorne Kashin, RO