Who Does What – COBC or OAC?

Our Role

The College of Opticians of British Columbia (COBC) is the regulatory body for opticians in BC. The COBC regulates opticianry* by ensuring Licensed Opticians are qualified to practice and that they are consistently providing safe and ethical care to their patients. COBC is not a school. 

COBC was established in 1994 under the Health Professions Act and has a duty to serve and protect the public interest by overseeing the conduct and competence of Licensed Opticians. The College also sets and enforces practice standards and responds to complaints when standards are not being met. 

Who can help me?

As self-regulated health professionals, opticians have an obligation to act in the best interests of both the public and the profession. In BC, this obligation is supported by two organizations: the College of Opticians of BC (the “regulator”) and the Opticians Association of Canada (the “association”).

In general, it is the role of the regulator to advocate for the public and the role of the association to advocate for the profession. However, the relationship is more complex than this. By participating in the regulation of opticianry – as licensees of COBC (at minimum) or even as volunteers, committee members, or board members – opticians contribute to the betterment of their profession at the provincial and even federal level. The regulator defines practice standards and enforces legislation, but each individual optician is responsible for modeling and promoting the value of opticianry in all that they do. And while it is mandatory to maintain a licence with the regulator, the optician adds tools to their toolkit by choosing to maintain voluntary membership with the association as well.

The work of the regulator and the association is interconnected. For this reason, it can sometimes be difficult to differentiate the two – and to know who to contact when you have a question. COBC has developed a resource to support opticians and members of the public in understanding the role of each organization:

For an electronic/printable version of the above comparison chart, click the following:

Who Does What? COBC or OAC

* A health profession in which a person provides the services of dispensing vision appliances, conducting automated refractions and promoting eye health and proper use of vision appliances.