Each regulated health care profession has its own definitions about what its professionals can and cannot do to, and for, patients and clients.

The province’s legislation defines:

  • the scope of practice for the profession, and
  • the controlled acts (certain activities and procedures) professionals are permitted to do, in whole or part.  

Learn more below. 

Scope of Practice

A scope of practice describes what a health care practitioner is permitted to do in keeping with the terms of their professional license.

For occupational therapists (OTs), the legal basis for practice comes from the Occupational Therapy Act, 1991. It sets out what OTs are trained, competent and authorized to perform:

“The practice of occupational therapy is the assessment of function and adaptive behaviour and the treatment and prevention of disorders which affect function or adaptive behaviour to develop, maintain, rehabilitate or augment function or adaptive behaviour in the areas of self-care, productivity and leisure.”

This definition is broad enough to cover a range of activities related to assessment, intervention and prevention. The College interprets scope of practice to consider an OT’s education, competencies and ongoing professional development. The scope of practice includes a range of procedures, actions, processes, roles and responsibilities that an OT can safely and effectively perform.

Controlled Acts

In health care, certain activities and procedures have higher risk, so not everyone is allowed to perform them. These are called controlled acts.

Under Ontario law, only authorized health care professionals can perform the 14 controlled acts. Different health care professionals may be permitted to perform certain controlled acts, in whole or part.

There are two ways to be able perform controlled acts.

  1. A health care profession could be granted that authority. Occupational therapists (OTs) have the direct authority to perform the controlled act of psychotherapy.
  2. A health care professional who does have the authority can transfer that authority to another health care professional. That’s called delegation.

Many OTs currently perform several of the controlled acts through delegation. An OT can only perform a delegated controlled act if:

  • it falls within the scope of practice of occupational therapy; and;
  • the OT has the knowledge, skills and abilities to carry out the act.