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Understanding College Fees

As occupational therapists are a self-regulated profession, College operations are funded entirely by registrant fees. The College is a not-for-profit organization.

The annual registration renewal fee is paid by occupational therapists.

The annual registration renewal fee covers:

  • assessment, registration and annual renewal of qualified individuals
  • development of resources to help occupational therapists apply practice standards, as well as other materials and resources created for registrants, students, applicants, employers and the public.
  • administration of the Quality Assurance (QA) program to ensure continuing competence and quality improvement of the profession.
  • investigation of concerns about the conduct and competence of occupational therapists
  • other regulatory work, such as developing and implementing policies and regulation changes that affect occupational therapy practice.

Questions and Answers

As the regulator of the profession in Ontario, the College’s sole mandate is to protect the public.

All regulatory organizations exist for this same purpose of public protection, while professional associations exist to advocate for the professions’ interest.

Paying your fees to be registered with the College makes you a participant in the various aspects of occupational therapy regulation and public protection. This is why we consult with the profession before the Board makes decisions about changes to bylaws, regulations and standards of practices.

Together, we protect the public by ensuring:

  • those wanting to become occupational therapists in Ontario meet requirements
  • occupational therapists have standards that inform them of their accountabilities to provide safe, competent and ethical care
  • occupational therapists engage in continuous improvement of their practice
  • we take appropriate steps when there are concerns about an occupational therapist's conduct, competence and health
  • we amend standards and regulations whenever government updates laws or passes new ones

We also work to improve occupational therapy regulation in Ontario. Here are a few examples:

  • Enhancing the Quality Assurance program to support occupational therapists with their ongoing professional development
  • Modernizing College governance to support efficient, effective leadership in public protection

To continue to meet its obligations to the public, the Ministry of Health, and provincial and federal reporting agencies, a fee increase was required. Different Colleges take different approaches to financial management. Some raise fees every year, others put forth substantial increases all at once. COTO's Board recognized these are challenging times and agreed that over the next five years any increase would be held at 2% or less.

Following review of feedback from the 60-day public consultation held in later 2023, at its January 2024 meeting, the Board approved the proposed amendments to Part 18 of the College bylaws related to fees which supports the College to increase fees up to 2% each year for five years. This year it was determined that a $15 increase would be implemented for the 2024/2025 annual renewal period. A summary of key themes and comments is available on pages 99-105 of the January Board package.

COTO’s membership fees are in the lower mid-range of all health professions in Ontario. Some Colleges will have lower or higher fees depending on how many registrants they have, the profession’s scope of practice, the number of complaints being submitted, and several other factors.

Regulation is provincially mandated, and each province has a different set of requirements and legislated Acts.  Where the College is responsible for regulating the Occupational Therapy Act, 1991, all other professions have their own Acts to administer.  This makes cross-comparison by profession and province difficult.

Here are several factors that impact regulatory fees:

  • the requirements of the profession in each jurisdiction (for example, some Colleges do not have a Quality Assurance program)
  • the implementation of legal changes (Ontario is experiencing major legislative changes, which require more College resources to manage and implement)
  • the size of the profession (there are economies of scale in some aspects of administration, but in others, higher costs to manage more registrants)
  • the number of complaints the College receives and investigates and the number of discipline hearings the College must administer
  • and more, such as necessary infrastructure projects to manage requirements.

Further information regarding the work of the College is published in our annual reports. Reports are available in French and English.

The Toronto office is close to other regulatory colleges, government and health care system partners, and accessible by transit for people who must travel to the College for meetings. Board meetings are held in person in the office as are training sessions, hearings, and other regulatory matters.

The College has maintained the same amount of space since 2001, despite the needed staffing increases to manage more than 7,000 registrants. The College uses a hybrid model to accommodate its staff instead of moving to a larger space.

*This content is adapted, with permission, from the College of Nurses of Ontario; the original work is available on cno.org

How Fees Were Spent in 2022-2023 

A breakdown of how the annual registration fee was spent in 2022-2023 is available below. Please note this information is based on pre-audited financials and estimates.

College Programs

  • Quality Assurance (QA) and Professional Practice – 19%
    • Development and delivery of Quality Assurance requirements (Annual Learning Plan and Annual eLearning Module), competency assessments, program review.
    • Management of practice resources (including development of Standards of Practice, case studies, questions & answers, webinars etc.), virtual support, outreach and education through the Practice Resource Service.
  • Investigations & Resolutions – 10%
    • Intake and investigation of complaints against registrants; discipline hearings; Fitness to Practise.
  • Registration – 13%
    • Assessment, registration and renewal of qualified registrants; oversight of re-entry programs; student outreach; insurance and vulnerable sector screens;
    • Management of the public register of occupational therapists (Find an Occupational Therapist);
    • Health human resource reporting to provincial and federal government; Ontario Fairness Commissioner report submission and assessment.

Governance and Oversight

  • Executive Office – 8%
    • Leadership of the College including strategic and operational planning, administration, stakeholder relations, and Council elections;
    • Patient Relations and Citizen Advisory Group partnership;
    • Leadership of provincial and national collaboration to ensure fair and consistent regulatory processes.
  • Board of Directors, Governance and Policy – 7%
    • Board meetings and training;
    • Policy and governance work to interpret and support legislative mandate; equity, diversity and inclusion initiative.

Administration and Operations

  • Corporate Services – 12%
    • Finance and audit, human resources, legal, office management and services.
  • Facilities and Operations – 12%
    • Rent, furniture, capital costs, operational costs, insurance, equipment, maintenance, rental costs (for example, photocopiers).

Communications – 8%

  • Projects to raise awareness of the role of the College and regulation in public protection; registrant, public and stakeholder communications including video and social media outreach; College website; College annual report; translation services.

Information and Technology – 13%

  • Software and technological infrastructure to support College functions, including computing and data networks, telephone systems, and applications/software used by staff, Board of Directors and committees; support to the enterprise systems project.