PEARL 2014: The Opticians of Manitoba

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Left to right: Mavis Lewis Webber (Chair, MPLAN), Heather Power (President, Opticians of Manitoba),Carol Ellerbeck (Registrar, Opticians of Manitoba)

The MPLAN PEARL Award is given for the Pursuit of Excellence in the Assessment and Recognition of prior Learning. (More about the PEARL Award)

Background for this Award

Opticians supply and dispense lenses for glasses and contact lenses. OOM regulates the profession in Manitoba. It ranks 30 out of 37 among regulators in terms of membership and staff.

Pursuit of Excellence

Over four years, OOM designed, built and field tested much fairer, faster, more effective and accurate ways to assess and credit the prior learning of Internationally Educated Opticians including:

  • Paper credential review→ gap analysis→structured interview→ Decision Letter →gap training/national exam → registration
  • Assessment of prior language learning in a realistic, timely and effective way to determine each individual current English language skills in relation to language demands of the profession.
  • OOM developed a new website at which improved awareness of and access to RPL Processes. It is user-friendly and uses Plain Language, with a welcoming tone.

Results Achieved

OOM reduced the time needed for accurate RPL assessment to a period of four to seven months.

All of the above reforms mean reduced time, cost and stress not only for the applicant but for OOM also. They were accomplished with advice and help from outside but made possible by an immense volunteer effort by OOM members:

  • Already there have been over 400 hours donated voluntarily by trained opticians in the design and field testing of these changes.
  • Ongoing commitment by volunteers makes the new system possible.

OOM is seen by MPLAN as a potential model for other regulators in terms of rapid and effective RPL self reform.


OOM rethought its RPL policies and redesigned its practices with generous support from the National Association of Canadian Optician Regulators (NACOR) and from the Office of the Manitoba Fairness Commissioner (OMFC).