College of Opticians Lauds Court Decision in "Great Glasses" Case

    TORONTO, Oct. 20 /CNW/ - On Friday, October 10, 2008 the Court of Appeal
of Ontario upheld the previous decision made by the Ontario Superior Court of
Justice that Bruce Bergez was operating the Great Glasses chain of eyewear
stores unlawfully and in contempt of Court. In rejecting Bergez' appeal, the
Court upheld the $1,000,000 fine payable by Mr. Bergez, his wife, Joanne
Bergez and their companies, the largest-known contempt fine in Canadian
history. The penalty included the payment of $50,000 per day for each
additional day that the Bergez' were not in compliance with the original
order. The legal action against the Bergez' was initiated by the College of
Optometrists and supported by the College of Opticians.
    The original decision was made in 2003 and the Court concluded last week
that Mr. and Mrs. Bergez not only failed to comply with the original Court
Order, but that they never had any intention of doing so. The Court stated
that "We cannot suffer the sacrifice of the rule of the law to the lure of
lucre (money)".
    "Laws such as the Regulated Health Professions Act and the Opticianry Act
were put in place to ensure that the health of Ontarians is protected. One of
the obligations each regulated healthcare professional in Ontario has is to
abide by the letter and spirit of the law and do no harm to patients," stated
Caroline MacIsaac-Power, the Registrar of the College of Opticians of Ontario.
"Our assertion that Mr. Bergez' business model for Great Glasses clearly
contravened those laws and exposed his patrons to a risk of harm was upheld by
the Courts."
    Opticians registered by the College of Opticians may dispense corrective
lenses, but only with the prescription of a physician or optometrist. Mr.
Bergez' registration as an optician is under suspension and Great Glasses
stores routinely dispensed eyewear without a proper prescription.
    "This has been a long and difficult process for this College over a
number of years during which we used every lawful tool available to have Mr.
Bergez and Great Glasses comply with the law," explained Ms MacIsaac-Power.
"We hope that this decision represents the conclusion."
    For a history of this matter from the College of Opticians' perspective,
consult the College's web site at

    The College of Opticians is the professional, self-governing body for
opticians established under the Opticianry Act, 1991. It establishes criteria
for registration as an optician in Ontario and regulates the practice of the
2,131 Opticians currently registered to practice in Ontario. For more
information about the College of Opticians, please visit our web site at

For further information:

For further information: Caroline MacIsaac-Power at (416) 368-3616

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