Before delivering services through virtual health care, occupational therapists must ensure that decisions regarding service provisions are in the client’s best interest. It is important to consider whether the client will receive the same quality of service offered in a virtual format as would be provided by the occupational therapist in person.
Occupational therapists are to review the research evidence for virtual practice for the services they will be providing and the client population they serve. Clients can expect to be informed of virtual practice’s risks, benefits, and limitations as part of giving consent for occupational therapy services.
Occupational Therapy Services Provided WITHIN British Columbia
You must register with the College of Occupational Therapists of BC (COTBC) to provide occupational therapy services for clients located in British Columbia. This requirement applies regardless of whether you intend to offer occupational therapy services virtually or in-person.
Depending on how long you plan to provide services for clients in BC, you may choose to register in COTBC’s full or temporary registration categories.
You can find more information about how to become a full registrant on our Registration webpage.
If you are seeking temporary registration (i.e., practicing 1-45 consecutive days twice a year, or 1-90 consecutive days in a 12-month period), please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on fees and registration requirements. The COTBC registration team works diligently to expedite any temporary registrations needed to support continuity of care needs across provincial jurisdictions.
Providing Virtual Care for Clients Located in BC
You will require full or temporary registration with COTBC to practice in BC. Recently the Association of Canadian Occupational Therapy Regulatory Organizations (ACOTRO) drafted a position statement and memorandum of understanding (MOU) that addresses the regulatory processes for cross-jurisdictional (i.e., cross-provincial) practice for occupational therapists providing virtual care. COTBC recognizes that some Canadian occupational therapy regulatory organizations have adopted this MOU and currently allow occupational therapists registered in other Canadian provinces to provide some virtual services for clients within their province based on the occupational therapist’s existing registration in the province they are providing services from.
While COTBC is exploring this possibility, given ongoing provincial discussions related to common virtual care guidelines, COTBC is not in a position to consider an MOU on cross-jurisdictional virtual care at this time. As stated previously, COTBC continues to require that all individuals who wish to provide occupational therapy services for clients located in BC be registered with COTBC. This webpage will be updated should there be any new information or changes related to this requirement.
Occupational Therapy Services Provided OUTSIDE of British Columbia
Providing Services for Clients in Other Canadian Provinces
Occupational therapists registered with COTBC who are considering providing any services for clients located in other provinces are advised to check with the regulatory body of the province where the occupational therapy services will occur. This should be done prior to proceeding to ensure registrants are clear on the expectations for services being contemplated and any registration requirements which vary across provinces. Links to each of the provincial regulators can be found on the Association of Canadian Occupational Therapy Regulatory Organizations (ACOTRO) website.
As stated previously, in accordance with ACOTRO’s MOU on cross-jurisdiction virtual practice, COTBC recognizes that some Canadian occupational therapy regulatory organizations currently allow occupational therapists registered in other Canadian provinces to provide some virtual services for clients within their province based on the occupational therapist’s existing registration in the province they are providing services from. You are advised to confirm current requirements and limitations directly with the relevant regulator(s).
Registrants should also consider the implications of restricted activities and insurance coverage when providing services for clients located outside of British Columbia.
Providing Services for Clients in Other Countries
When clients are located outside of Canada, it is important to recognize that regulatory legislation of occupational therapy varies from state to state and country to country. As not all countries have regulatory legislation or regulatory bodies, it is up to registrants to confirm whether registration is required in the jurisdiction their client is located (refer to the WFOT International Practice Guide). If registration is required, registrants should secure this prior to providing services. If registration is not required, this must be documented appropriately in the client’s occupational therapy record and registrants must ensure the client is aware services are being provided from British Columbia, Canada.