The following information has been provided to all Naturopathic Doctors in British Columbia.
As you are aware, the College is currently reviewing the marketing materials of Registrants to ensure compliance with s. 100 of the Bylaws, the College’s Advertising Policy, the Immunization Standard, and the Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics as set out in the Guidelines on Advertising and Improper Inducements to Treatment.
On May 24, 2018, the College directed that all Registrants review their advertising to ensure compliance with the Bylaws and Advertising Policy. On December 28, 2018, the College once again directed Registrants to ensure that their advertising does not contravene these requirements, and included a self-assessment tool to assist with the advertising review. Since these notifications were sent, many Registrants have made changes to bring their advertising into compliance. The College recognizes the timely response from these Registrants in bringing their practice in line with legal requirements for all naturopathic physicians in BC.
Unfortunately—and with unacceptable frequency—College staff continue to find advertising infractions.
There are some Registrants who continue to engage in improper advertising. This improper advertising includes: advertising services requiring certification without being certified to provide those services, patient testimonials, claims of specialization, false or unverifiable claims about treatment, and/or other unlawful or inappropriate marketing practices.
These Registrants are placing self-regulation, a privilege that gives naturopathic physicians direct involvement in how the profession is regulated, at risk. When naturopathic services are misrepresented and/or professional and ethical standards are disregarded, strong regulatory sanctions are required if the profession is to maintain self-regulation.
As a result, the College will be pursuing stronger enforcement mechanisms to bring the profession into compliance.
Beginning Monday, January 21, 2019, advertising and marketing infractions by Registrants will be referred immediately to the Inquiry Committee. At minimum, it is expected that the Inquiry Committee will seek fines of $500.00 per infraction in addition to other sanctions.
All Registrants are responsible for their own advertising and marketing and are expected to oversee the work of any web designers or marketing professionals working on their behalf. Ignorance of the content of one’s own marketing activities is not a defensible explanation for failing to comply with legal requirements.
As provided in the College’s December 28, 2018 email, Registrants are strongly encouraged to use the Self Assessment Tool (https://www.ahpra.gov.au/Publications/Advertising-resources/Check-and-correct/Self-assessment-tool.aspx) to determine whether their advertising meets College standards and to immediately make any necessary changes to bring their advertising and marketing into compliance.
The College will continue with this plan of action until compliance with the College’s advertising and marketing rules is achieved by all Registrants.
We thank you for your recognition that the safety of the public is paramount, and we appreciate your swift action on this issue.