Is a Homeopath a Physician in Ontario?

According to the Regulated Health Professions Act (RHPA) a homeopath is definately not a physician, or a doctor: or even a homeopathic doctor.  In 2006, when the Regulated Health Professions Advisory Council submitted the New Directions report to then Minister of Health George Smitherman, the Ontario Homeopathic Association thought the term “homeopathic doctor” should be a protected title under the act.  The Ontario Government disagreed and this was left out of the Act.  The Act specifically states:

“Except as allowed in the regulations under this Act, no person shall use the title “doctor”, a variation or abbreviation or an equivalent in another language in the course of providing or offering to provide, in Ontario, health care to individuals”

Homeopaths are left out of the exceptions, which include such professions as chiropractors and naturopaths.

Currently the Transitional Council of the College of Homeopaths of Ontario has been very clear to its future members that use of the term “doctor’ is restricted under the RHPA (current, and only, newsletter, page 4).  However, several of the members of the transitional council are using this term or the more specific term “homeopathic doctor” or “HD” despite their leadership role in the community, and the term is in widespread use among homeopaths that I could find who have a web presence.

To this end, and for the protection of the public, CFI Ontario and the Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Skepticism (CASS) have submitted a formal complaint to the MOHLTC and its Minister, Hon. Deb Matthews with a list of Ontario-based homeopaths we generated from web research who are using the term “doctor” or “HD”.   The fine for this fraud is $25 000 for a first offence, and $50 000 for a second offence.

We also detailed several instances of homeopaths in Ontario offering homeopathic prophylaxis for childhood illness and the flu and suggesting that normal and proven vaccines are dangerous.  The implications for public of obvious, as there is no proof that homeopathic vaccines work, despite what homeopaths say about their ridiculous ”study” of leptospirosis in Cuba, and they have ignored the vast body of evidence showing vaccine safety and efficacy.

I will keep you posted on the response from the GoO.

13 Responses to “Is a Homeopath a Physician in Ontario?”

  1. Mike says:

    I have always wondered about this. My wife and I got into a discussion recently about if they are allowed to call themselves ‘doctor’ after seeing an ad on CP24 for Wylde on Health. I had assumed they must be allowed to refer to themselves as such, even though they hadn’t gone to medical school, although I couldn’t think of a reason why

    Hopefully the Government of Ontario rectifies this situation quickly

  2. daijiyobu says:

    Great news.

    Re: homeopathy in Ontario and “such professions as [...] naturopaths.”

    I think we have to be careful about labeling naturopathy a profession.

    Because, and speaking of their homeopathy in Ontario also, I’ve noticed that the naturopathic college their labels homeopathy “clinical science” (see http://www.ccnm.edu/prospective_students/areas_study ) when in fact homeopathy is hugely science repudiated. Yet, there it is used for “primary care management.”

    And, on that same CCNM page — and being a connoisseur of naturopathy’s choice of language to represent ‘the essentially naturopathic’ — I notice that we are not given a transparent description of the ‘healing power of nature’ vitalistic premise that defines naturopathy. We instead get “healing through the cooperative power of nature” and “the inherent self-healing ability of the individual”.

    Thus, my critique of even loosely labeling naturopathy a profession: what kind of profession labels what is profoundly nonscience science, and doesn’t transparently communicate its defining principles and where such stands in terms of science to the public?

    We’re told “students will develop the skills to practice in a manner that exemplifies professionalism, strong ethics and a commitment to the principles of naturopathic medicine.”

    I argue that one of those principles is to hide what naturopathy is truly about and then mislabel it, which is in direct conflict with the idea of professionalism and strong ethics.

    -r.c.

  3. mfitzsimmons says:

    That’s very interesting. It seems so obvious, why didn’t someone do something about this earlier?

    I had sent an email to CP24 complaining of their use of the title “Doctor” for Bryce Wylde. They responded with some tripe about balanced reporting and letting the public decide.

    I’m happy to see CASS has taken up the cause, however, I’m disheartened by the complete inactivity of the government ministries that should be protecting us.

  4. Composer99 says:

    Homeopathy is a big part of naturopathy, as described by Orac over at Respectful Insolence.

    Personally speaking, I find it a bit ridiculous that naturopaths get a free pass to use a protected term when they are prepared to include homeopathy in their ‘armamentarium’ while homeopaths are restricted.

    Perhaps the Ontario gov’t should re-consider its indulgence of naturopaths using protected terminology under the RHPA?

  5. Thomas Doubts says:

    It still boggles my mind that chiropaths and naturopaths can use the “doctor” label under the legislation, unless of course they have a real medical degree or Ph.D in another discipline of course. Besides the fact that they aren’t medical doctors, some bright homeopath could use that legislative exception to argue that they should be included under the definition as well.

  6. Al says:

    If this works, and I hope it does, maybe next you can somehow go after religious leaders who “Dr.” in their title. I think they degrade the term Doctor more than homeopaths (not by much though).

  7. Bogeymama says:

    I’m not in Ontario, but it would seem that where I am in Canada the term “doctor” is also allowed for those who practise Traditional Chinese Medicine. I have a “friend” (another parent at my kids’ school) who is a D-TCM, and to everyone who will listen he calls himself a physician, talks about his days in medical school, uses the title “Doctor”, laughs about the “old days” of using beepers, complains about hospital bureaucracy and has everyone completely fooled! (Do TCM docs actually work in hospitals?? Emergency acupuncture??) His practice is located in a big city, so no one really questions him. I actually believed him at first, but since I am a health care professional who interacts regularly with all local physicians, I was stumped as to why I didn’t know him. A quick google search revealed his entire bio. No medical school, but he does have an undergrad in science and a 5-year degree in TCM. I haven’t exposed him, but I do distance myself when he offers up health advice to other parents at school. He is actually a community leader, and while he isn’t really lying about who he is, it really bothers me that he is leading everyone to believe something different. I think medical doctors need to get their title back!

  8. Michael Kruse says:

    @ Bogeymana – TCM doctors are actually an exemption in the RHPA in Ontario – they are allowed to use the term doctor – here is the text of the RHPA in Ontario, and I suspect that your jurisdiction has similar legislation – check your provincial or state legislation:

    (1.1) Subsection (1) does not apply to a person who is a member of the College of Naturopaths of Ontario. 2007, c. 10, Sched. P, s. 20 (1).
    Naturopathic doctor
    (1.2) A member referred to in subsection (1.1) shall not use the title “doctor” in written format without using the phrase, “naturopathic doctor”, immediately following his or her name. 2007, c. 10, Sched. P, s. 20 (1).
    See: 2007, c. 10, Sched. P, ss. 20 (1), 21 (2).

    Idem
    (2) Subsection (1) does not apply to a person who is a member of,
    (a) the College of Chiropractors of Ontario;
    (b) the College of Optometrists of Ontario;
    (c) the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario;
    (d) the College of Psychologists of Ontario; or
    (e) the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario. 1991, c. 18, s. 33 (2).
    Note: On a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor, section 33 is amended by the Statutes of Ontario, 2006, chapter 27, subsection 18 (1) by adding the following subsection:

    Same
    (2.1) Subsection (1) does not apply to a person who is a member of the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario and who holds a certificate of registration that entitles the member to use the title “doctor”. 2006, c. 27, s. 18 (1).

  9. daijiyobu says:

    Since so much of alt. med. is based on dogmatic ideas and premises that are quite ‘out there’ / beyond, I suggest the following more accurate titles to replace alt. med.’s appropriation of the titles physician and doctor:

    metaphysician, indoctrinator.

    My new terminology loosely resembles the established terminology, except the new terminology offers the public a more accurate context regarding alt. med. knowledge and activity.

    -r.c.

  10. Terence Elliott says:

    It’s definitely, with an “i”, not definately with an “a”.

  11. Danielle says:

    You all need a serious eduction on the history of medicine. It is your antiquated romantic and not so scientific ideals of medicine that cause more people to be harmed every day by crisis medicine approaches used for prevention of chronic degenerative disease. In other words the medicine you call scientific, historically lists “the skull of a hanged man as well as the eye of newt” in a prescription found in the British Pharmacoepia – and mercury also called “Calomel” as the medicine of choice for the syphillis and gonorrhea epidemics of old england. That;’s jsut a small exmaple of the scientific origins of yoru medicine if choice. Now remember, there is no cure for a narrow point of view and dulled mind. From the use of mercury as medicine came the phrase – ” if the disease doesn’t kill you the cure will” because one drop too many of mercury WOULD kill you. So before you spew venom toward a resurgence of “orginal medicine” with the likes of homeopathy and naturopathy, my friend, educate yourself on the origin of what you call mainstream scientific medicine. Because the true statistics if you dared to investigate them, show remarkable instances of death caused by your science in recent years, due to incorrect, contraindicating, over prescribing of uncalled – for meds, coupled with the offensive and irresponsible lack of accountability on the part of general medicine docs in both the USA and Canada. So, tread cautiously before you speak without knowledge. Otherwise it’s just flack and hot air. Oh and yes there is a prescrition for the level of dull thinking. Take several, take lots and lots in fact. A few good funerals will clear the air of disposable and inadequate minds. Cheers

    • Kim Hebert says:

      “the true statistics if you dared to investigate them”

      Go ahead and give me some evidence from a reputable source that demostrates your claim that physicians routinely go unpunished for publicly known malpractice. I’ll wait.

      Meanwhile, the CPSO refuses to intervene with non-doctors openly practicing medicine without a license, because they aren’t doctors. When it comes to alternative practitioners, Health Canada and the CPSO are playing a game of pass the buck where everybody loses.

      Also thanks for wishing us dead, that was super classy.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks


  • Michael Kruse

    Michael is an advanced-care paramedic in York Region, just north of Toronto, Ontario. A semi-retired theatrical lighting designer as well, he re-trained in 2005 as an EMT-PS at the University of Iowa and as an ACP at Durham College, and is currently working towards a B.Sc at the University of Toronto. Michael is a founder and the chair of the board of directors of Bad Science Watch. He is also the recipient of the first annual Barry Beyerstein Award for Skepticism. Follow Michael on twitter @anxiousmedic. Michael's musings are his own and do not necessarily represent those of his employer or Bad Science Watch.