TORONTO, Oct. 1 /CNW/ – The Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO) applauds Justice James Turnbull for taking a strong stand in upholding the Regulated Health Professions Act and protecting Ontarians from unscrupulous business owners, like Great Glasses founder Bruce Bergez, who put the public’s vision at risk for the sake of profits.

Mr. Bergez will serve one year without parole for civil contempt of court. Sentencing for his wife, Joanne Bergez, has been adjourned until October 7, 2011; at which point Mr. Bergez will also be back in court for further sentencing on criminal contempt of court charges.

Today’s ruling stems from hearings held in late June, at which lawyers for the Attorney General and the College of Optometrists of Ontario (COO) were in court to request the appointment of a receiver to evaluate Mr. Bergez’s business assets and determine his ability to pay restitution. At that time, Mr. Bergez and his wife were also found guilty of both civil and criminal contempt for their ongoing failure to abide by any court rulings.

Since 2003, no fewer than three court rulings have determined that Great Glasses founder Bruce Bergez and Great Glasses employees were illegally performing eye exams and dispensing eyewear without a prescription from a physician or optometrist.

“Ontarians expect businesses, like optical retailers, to obey the law,” said OAO President Dr. John Mastronardi. “For too long, Mr. Bergez took advantage of his customers’ lack of awareness on what is needed to protect their eye health.”

These court actions were brought about by the College of Optometrists of Ontario as part of their mandate to protect public welfare.

The Regulated Health Professions Act was enacted in 1991. The Act reduced cumbersome health care legislation by setting out 13 “controlled” acts that posed a risk of harm to the public. The “acts,” including prescribing and dispensing eyewear, can only be performed by trained and qualified health professionals. The Act also sets out which controlled acts can be performed by which health care professions.

Founded in 1909, OAO is the voluntary professional organization that represents more than 1,350 optometrists in Ontario. The Association proudly serves the profession by undertaking government advocacy, membership education and public awareness initiatives.

For further information: Christine Morrison, Ontario Association of Optometrists, Phone: 1-800-540-3837 Ext 223, Email: cmorrison@optom.on.ca

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