Optometrists trained outside of North America or with academic training unaccredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE) must complete credential assessment through the Federation of Optometric Regulatory Authorities of Canada (FORAC). Credential assessment will determine the applicant's eligibility to challenge the Internationally Graduated Optometrist Evaluating Examination (IGOEE). Successful completion of the IGOE Exam will determine the applicant's eligibility to challenge the OEBC Exam & OSCE (national optometry exam) or apply to bridge training at the University of Waterloo in Ontario.
Internationally educated applicants should be prepared for significant time and expenses that can be involved in this process. For information on the approximate costs and length of time required, visit our International Applicants - Time and Costs page.
Before initiating the application process, potential applicants can prepare as follows:
- English language proficiency will be required if the applicant's optometric degree program was not conducted in English. These applicants will need to achieve a minimum score on a test approved by FORAC. More information on English proficiency testing can be found on the International Applicant's page of the FORAC website, under the blue box "4".
- Canada's English language optometry school is the University of Waterloo School of Optometry and Vision Science. Course listings for the University's Doctor of Optometry program can be found on the University's website: click here. Applicants may wish to review the course listings for comparison with the courses taken in the applicant's optometric degree program. This will give the applicant an idea of how similar the applicant's optometric education was to a Canadian optometric education.
- Canadian citizenship, permanent resident status or convention refugee status must be established prior to participation in the IOBP bridging program (see Step 4 below). In order to register in Manitoba (see Step 6 below), if the applicant is not a Canadian citizen then proof of ability to work in Canada must be provided.
- Start preparing application documents. Many documents can be requested in advance and will remain valid throughout the application process (however, please note that the criminal record checks required under Step 6 below must be dated within the 6-month period prior to Manitoba registration).
- Review the FORAC website to gain a better understanding of the steps involved, and contact FORAC to initiate the process.
Step 1: Credential Assessment
Credential assessment services are provided through the Federation of Optometric Regulatory Authorities of Canada (FORAC). For details please visit forac-faroc.ca. Please note that applicants who have previously had their credentials assessed by the College of Optometrists of Ontario will not be eligible to apply again to the national credentialing process.
The fee for credential assessment is approximately $1,000 plus taxes. FORAC requires an evaluation of the applicant's education credentials from World Education Services (WES-ICAP, $245). If the applicant's optometry degree program was not conducted in English, FORAC will require successful completion of an English proficiency test.
FORAC's assessment will determine if the applicant is eligible to challenge the IGOE Exam.
Step 2: Apply for referral to the IGOE Exam
If FORAC's credential assessment determines that the applicant is eligible to challenge the IGOE Exam, the applicant must complete the appropriate referral form, which can be found on FORAC's website and submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a referral number.
Step 3: Internationally Graduated Optometrist Evaluating Examination (IGOEE)
The IGOE Exam is a written and clinical exam that assesses the applicant's current knowledge, skill and judgment as it relates to the practise of optometry in Canada. It is administered in Toronto by the Touchstone Institute and the cost of the IGOE Exam is $5,000 per attempt.
The results of the IGOE Exam will determine if the applicant is eligible to proceed directly to the OEBC Exam & OSCE OR if the applicant is eligible to apply to bridging training at the University of Waterloo.
Step 4 (if required): Bridge Training/Advanced Standing Program
For the past 14 years, the University of Waterloo, School of Optometry and Vision Science (WOVS) has provided the International Optometric Bridging Program (IOBP). The final IOBP program began in January 2020. The program will transition to an advanced standing program. The IOBP program was a one year program at a cost of $50,998, contact WOVS for information on tuition fees for the new advanced standing program. Tuition fees do not include the cost of textbooks, living expenses, travel, accommodation, etc. The program includes classroom lectures, clinical instruction, and externship rotations. Among those admitted to the bridging program in the past, approximately 80% successfully complete the IOBP and national optometry exam. Offers of admission were made based on rank order with no guarantee that meeting the minimum eligibility requirements would result in acceptance into a bridging program.
WOVS will transition to an advanced standing program for internationally-trained optometric graduates, which will begin in 2022. The program will consist of an orientation term (term length and cost to be determined) followed by integration into the 3rd year of the WOVS Doctor of Optometry degree program. Those who successfully complete the orientation term, 3rd and 4th years of the program will be granted a Doctorate of Optometry degree from the University of Waterloo.
For more information, visit the University of Waterloo IOBP web page. Canadian citizenship, permanent resident status or convention refugee status must be established prior to participating in a bridging program.
Step 5: OEBC Exam & OSCE
In order to qualify to register as an optometrist in Manitoba, applicants must pass the OEBC Exam & OSCE (national optometry exam) administered by the Optometry Examining Board of Canada (OEBC). To apply to write the exam, applicants complete an application form, pay a $5,900 fee (2017) and provide the required application documents.
The OEBC Exam & OSCE is new in 2017 and replaces the CACO national optometry exam. The new exam consists of a one day Written Examination, using 62 cases to test competencies; and a 3 hour and 10 minute Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), using 16 stations to test practical competencies. It is offered in April/May and October/November of each year and is held in Hamilton, ON (English) and at the University of Montreal (French).
Step 6: Manitoba Registration Process
Upon successfully completing the OEBC Exam & OSCE, the applicant must apply for registration with the Manitoba Association of Optometrists. To complete registration in Manitoba, the applicant must provide the following:
- Application form, including application and exam fee of $400 plus GST.
- Recent notarized photograph certifying proof of identity and current legal name.
- Evidence of optometric education:
- original mark transcripts certifying the applicant's graduation from an approved Optometry program; OR
- IOBP certificate or WOVS advanced standing Optometric Doctorate transcripts; OR
- if an international applicant was able to proceed directly from the IGOE Exam to the OEBC Exam & OSCE, successful IGOEE results from Touchstone Institute.
- Original transcripts with respect to any degree program the applicant intends to include with his/her signature as an Optometrist (e.g. BSc).
- Evidence of good standing in every other jurisdiction in which the applicant is or has been registered during the previous seven years.
- Canadian criminal records check including vulnerable sector search, as well as criminal record checks from every other jurisdiction of residence during the past five years. Criminal record checks must be dated within 6 months prior to registration date.
- If the applicant is not a Canadian citizen, proof of ability to work in Canada.
- OEBC Exam & OSCE (national optometry exam) results.
- Proof of liability insurance.
Applicants must also successfully complete MAO's Jurisprudence Examination. The exam consists of short answer, true or false, and multiple choice questions based on the Optometry Act, Optometry Regulation, and MAO By-Laws. The exam is one hour and may be written at the MAO office. Alternatively, applicants may apply to have the Manitoba Jurisprudence Exam proctored in another location.
These requirements are subject to change, there may be additional requirements. If international applicants are unable to provide all the necessary documents, the MAO Board of Examiners will consider alternatives on a case by case basis. When you are having documents sent to MAO by a third party (i.e. transcripts sent by your university), be sure to contact the MAO office to confirm that your documents have been received.
MAO's By-Laws contain provisions for an applicant who is denied registration in Manitoba to appeal to the Council of the Manitoba Association of Optometrists. Applicants must make appeal in writing stating the reasons why they feel the refusal was unwarranted.
Provisions for appeal are also in place for the FORAC Credential Assessment process (heard by the Canadian Optometric Evaluation Committee), and OEBC Exam & OSCE (heard by the Optometry Examining Board of Canada).
If an applicant believes their performance on the IGOE Exam was negatively impacted for some reason during the exam session, MAO can request that Touchstone Institute review information and reports from the exam session to determine if there is justification to request an additional rewrite of the IGOE Exam.
You will receive results from all assessments. If you don't, you should ask the institution. If you have not received results, you may contact MAO for guidance.
Fees and requirements may be subject to change without notice.
If you have any additional questions, please contact Wynne Haaksma, Administrative Manager, at the MAO office at 204-943-9811 ext. 1 or email@example.com.