Homeopathy has a long history in Canada.  In 1842, James Lilli was probably the first Canadian homeopath to begin practicing in Toronto. Joseph J. Lancaster, who had studied in New York, began practicing sometime in the 1840s in Ontario. The ‘Homeopathic Medical Society of Canada’ was established in 1854 in Hamilton, Ontario.

Since these early days much has changed. At present, all health care professions in Ontario are governed by the ‘Regulated Health Professions Act’ which allows all health-care professions the same right to practice. This law upholds the belief that the public has the right to choose what health care it wishes, and that the government should only intervene to regulate where a profession poses a significant risk of harm to the public. Only allopathic professions are currently regulated, and, in Ontario, doctors are censured if they practice homeopathy.

All schools of homeopathy in Canada offer ‘diplomate status’ and all offer three-year, part-time courses (one or two weekends per month plus perhaps one or two evenings per week). There are no legal doctorate or university degree programs for homeopathy in Canada. A doctorate in any field other than allopathic medicine cannot legally be used while practicing homeopathy.

I have been reliably informed that the regulation of homeopathy in Ontario is about to change. A transitional council of the ‘College of Homeopaths of Ontario’ had already been appointed in September 2009. The next step in the regulatory process is now imminent. On April 1 this year,  Ontario will proclaim the ‘Homeopathy Act’. The bill will further empower the ‘College of Homeopaths of Ontario’. This regulatory body will hence forth have control over who gets to call themselves a homeopath. In addition, it will also have a complaint tracking system.

This moves comes only days after the ‘Australian National Health and Medical Research Council’ has published the most thorough and independent assessment of homeopathy in the history of this form of alternative therapy. It concluded that homeopathy should not be used to treat health conditions that are chronic, serious, or could become serious. People who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is good evidence for safety and effectiveness.

In view of the fact that homeopathy has been disproven as a treatment that fails to have a positive risk/benefit balance, the move of the regulators in Ontario seems pure madness to me. It sends the wrong signal to consumers and gives credibility to a form of quackery.


11 Responses to Homeopathy: have the regulators in Ontario lost their senses?

  • Homeopathy is a faith. (A belief with no rational basis).
    Does Ontario have any Acts to regulate other faiths such as Christianity, Islam, Buddism?
    If not, why not?
    Why the discrimination?
    What are Ontario’s public policies on the regulation of faith?

    • “faith” does not mean !belief with not rational basis!” – not in that context. The comments in this blog are being taken over by atheist trolls.

      The act regulates medical treatments. Religions do not usually claim to be medical treatments. On the rare occasions they do (the outstanding example being Reiki) they will be regulated by the act.

      • But there is no evidence homeopathic remedies treat any identifiable medical condition, and therefore no evidence homeopathy is a ‘medical treatment’.
        That’s the point.
        Simply saying it is does not make it so.
        Ask Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty.
        Fairy stories should have no place in legislation.
        Even in Canada.

      • @Graeme Pietersz
        Hahnemann recommended succussion worked best when dilutions were banged against a bible.
        Christian Scientists believe you can be healed by faith alone — that’s surely a claim to be a medical treatment.
        Fundamentalist preachers offer to cure all kinds of diseases by laying on hands or whatever — that’s got to be a religious claim to offer a treatment.
        See also where a homeopath claims religion and homeopathy have more in common than they think.
        Nobody here is trolling atheism: the blog is about Big Snakeoil. It’s your persistent blind refusal to perceive the common psychology underpinning belief in nonsensical things purely on the basis of faith that is prolonging the issue.

  • I hope that those who are concerned by this sad news are aware of an organisation that tries very hard to combat the insidious creeps of quackery resident in Canada:
    “Bad Science Watch is an independent non-profit consumer protection watchdog and science advocacy organization dedicated to improving the lives of Canadians by countering bad science. We are driven by a vision of a safer, healthier, and more prosperous Canada where critical thinking and sound science are paramount in the making of important societal decisions.”

  • What do you mean by “allopathy”? Or is this the official term used in the Canadian legislation?

  • I have been taking homeopathic remedies since my childhood. They are really effective. Regulation of homeopathy in Ontario would be great for the public as people will receive regulated and true homeopathic treatment.

    • Sonia said:

      I have been taking homeopathic remedies since my childhood. They are really effective.

      The best, most robust, most independent, least biased evidence says otherwise.

      Regulation of homeopathy in Ontario would be great for the public as people will receive regulated and true homeopathic treatment.

      How would you tell a good homeopath from a bad one and what’s ‘true’ homeopathy?

    • Great!
      But how do you know the remedies are effective?
      Have you carried out a trial – using pills from two unlabelled bottles, one of which has had no homeopathic preparation, for example?
      If not, why not?

    • Shill and/or troll!

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