Regulation of Occupational Therapy Practice

The profession of occupational therapy is regulated in the province under the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 and the Occupational Therapy Act, 1991

Individuals who practice in Ontario as an occupational therapist must be registered with the regulatory body, the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario (COTO). Unless registered, the title of occupational therapist cannot be used. The scope of occupational therapy practice is defined in the Occupational Therapy Act but is not protected and remains in the public domain as are the scopes of practice of other regulated health professions in the province.

Ontario's health professions regulation focuses on the regulation of key activities deemed potentially harmful to the public. These activities, identified as "controlled acts", are restricted to delegated professions. The profession of occupational therapy is not delegated to perform any of the 13 designated controlled acts, however when the controlled act of psychotherapy is proclaimed, the profession will be authorized to perform this controlled act.

The practice of occupational therapy includes direct service, education, consultation, research, administration and/or sales. Registration with the College qualifies occupational therapists to use the title "Occupational Therapist" or "OT", and the designation "OT Reg. (Ont.)". 

College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario 
The College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario (COTO) has a mandate to protect the public interest by regulating practice. Registration assures the public that the occupational therapist has met entry-to-practice requirements, and meets the College's standards of practice and quality assurance requirements. A complaints and discipline process provides the public with a channel through which they may address concerns they may have about occupational therapy services they have received.  Occupational Therapists seeking to work in Ontario are encouraged to engage the COTO registration process early as the paper work can be time consuming.

The College establishes eligibility criteria for registration and the practice of occupational therapy in the province.  View the COTO registration requirements and processes.

The College may be contacted at 1-800-890-6570 or 416-214-1177. Visit the COTO website or contact them via email at info@coto.org.

International Graduates

Occupational therapists who have been educated in other countries will be required by the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario to complete Substantial Equivalency Assessment System (SEAS) process as the first step for registration in Ontario.  The SEAS process is endorsed by all Canadian OT Regulators and operates under their oversight. The Substantial Equivalency Assessment System (SEAS) process may be commenced while still outside of Canada and includes the following components;

  • initial application and academic credential assessment
  • language readiness assessment
  • profession specific credential assessment
  • jurisprudence knowledge assessment
  • competency assessment

Upon successful completion of the SEAS process, one can apply for COTO registration and to write the National Certification Exam administered by the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists.  In advance of successfully passing the National Certification Exam, applicants can be eligible for Provisional Registration providing they are able to comply with the requirements for that category.  The College allows for a maximum of 3 attempts at the Certification Exam.

How can OSOT Support your access to the Registration Process?

Whether you are a Canadian graduate or an international graduate, OSOT has supports that can assist you through the process of establishing your eligibility for practice in Ontario.  The  Society is a professional association and distinctly separate from the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario which is the regulator.  While the College exists to protect the public, the Society exists to serve, benefit and promote the member and their profession, occupational therapy.

If you are a Canadian graduate....

  • Students enrolled in Canadian occupational therapy programs are eligible for complimentary OSOT membership.  Haven't accessed this resource?  Why not join now?  your OSOT membership can help you track practice, emerging trends, and new opportunities and challenges for the profession and to access member benefits that support you as you prepare to become an occupational therapist.  Get to know the OSOT website!
  • Moving to Ontario from another province?  While your professional practice is likely well established, OSOT can help you with those things that may be different in Ontario - structure of health care, legislative and policy structures that impact where, how and for how much you practice.  Get to know the OSOT website!
  • Returning to practice?  Let us know if you need a consult to help find a Re-entry Fieldwork Placement or general accident insurance to meet the requirements of your placement facility.  We can help!
  • A requirement for College registration is evidence of COTO-approved professional liability insurance coverage.  OSOT's Professional Liability Insurance Program exceeds COTO requirements and is competively priced.
  • Preparing to write the certification exam or entering into Ontario practice for the first time?  OSOT's Find-a-Mentor or Find-a-Colleague portals provide members access to over 4400 colleagues who can be supports, mentors, colleagues to network with, etc.
  • Need to talk?  We're only a phone call away.  Your professional resource is here to help when we can.  Contact us by email at osot@osot.on.ca or by phone at 416-322-3011/1-877-676-6768.

If you are an International Graduate....

  • While your professional practice is likely well established, OSOT can help you with those things that may be different in Ontario - structure of health care, legislative and policy structures that impact where, how and for how much you practice.  Get to know the OSOT website!
  • A requirement for College registration is evidence of COTO-approved professional liability insurance coverage.  OSOT's Professional Liability Insurance Program exceeds COTO requirements and is competively priced.
  • Preparing to write the certification exam or entering into Ontario practice for the first time?  OSOT's Find-a-Mentor or Find-a-Colleague portals provide members access to over 4400 colleagues who can be supports, mentors, colleagues to network with, etc.
  • Need to talk?  We're only a phone call away.  Your professional resource is here to help when we can.  Contact us by email at osot@osot.on.ca or by phone at 416-322-3011/1-877-676-6768.