I am sometimes asked who watches over veterinarians to ensure we are practicing good medicine, we are keeping up with the new information available and our hospitals, clinics and offices have all the equipment needed to assist animals with their problems. Veterinarians, like human doctors, lawyers and police are self-regulated meaning we govern ourselves, ensure we practice to certain standards and when veterinarian gets in trouble we, as a profession, investigate and apply whatever punishment is deemed necessary.
The Canadian government allows professions to regulate themselves as long as those professions do so within a certain set of rules. In Ontario, these rules of governance are spelled out in the Veterinarians Act and the organization which does the governing is the College of Veterinarians of Ontario in Guelph. This is not to be (but often is) confused with the Ontario Veterinary College which is the school at the University of Guelph where veterinarians are trained. The College of Veterinarians (CVO) licenses veterinarians to practice in Ontario as long as we have met certain standards of knowledge and skill. The CVO also licenses veterinary practices as long as they meet the requirements set out in the Veterinarians Act.
This Veterinarians Act was created by the government of Canada to ensure the protection of the general public by proscribing how veterinarians can practice veterinary medicine in Ontario. This document was first created in 1990 and multiple amendments have been made since then. The most recent amendment was just published on November 24, 2015.
The new amendments brought the Veterinarians Act up-to-date with current practices on advertising, computerized medical records and the relationship between veterinarians and their clients. The Act is a constantly evolving document and changes with the times but the main aim of the document will never change. That aim is to protect the public by ensuring veterinarians practice in a consistent manner from well-equipped facilities and that we are ever mindful of the duty we have to our patients and our clients.
If you would like to examine the documents which govern and guide veterinarians in Ontario, please access this link: https://cvo.org/Public/Legislation.aspx