Homeopathy in Ontario

Homeopathy in Ontario

It is not clear who was the first practitioner in Canada. It is known that in 1842, James Lillie, a pupil of Federal Vandenburgh, settled in Toronto and began practicing homeopathy. Dr. Joseph J. Lancaster, who had studied in New York began practicing sometime in the 1840s in Ontario. He later attended the Homeopathic Medical College in Philadelphia and graduated in 1857.

A German named von Schrader, settled in New Brunswick in 1856. Although von Schrader had no diploma, Dr. Peterson joined him in 1858, and they established a practice in St. John. In 1850, Dr. Lancaster petitioned the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada (Ontario) on behalf of himself and other homeopaths to be given permission to practice. This resulted in the passage of "An Act Respecting Homeopathy" in 1859. Part of the Act was the creation of a board of examiners to qualify and license homeopathic physicians in Upper Canada.

The Homeopathic Medical Society of Canada was established in 1854 in Hamilton, Ontario, comprising all the prominent homeopaths in Upper (Ontario) and Lower Canada (Quebec). The Canadian Homeopathic Journal was published in Hamilton in 1855-56.

In 1869, Ontario passed the Ontario Medical Act establishing a single unified College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario(CPSO) as the examining board for all medical practitioners. This united the three separate examining boards- eclectic, allopathic and homeopathic. Homeopaths were represented with five members on the council of the CPSO until 1934, when the number was reduced to one homeopath. Three practitioners from Western Canada graduated from The Homeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1856. King lists 90 graduates from Canada who studied at US schools between 1850 and 1905.

In 1931 there were 49 physicians listed. The first female homeopath was Emily Stowe (1831-1903), who graduated from the New York Medical College for Women, in 1867. She founded the Women's College Hospital in Toronto. The first homeopathic hospital opened as the Toronto Homeopathic Free Dispensary in 1888, followed by the Toronto Homeopathic Hospital in 1890 with 11 beds, later expanding to 32 beds.

All health care professions in Ontario are governed by the Regulated Health Professions Act which allows all health-care professions the same legal right to practice. This law upholds the belief that the public has the right to choose what health care it wishes, and that the government should only intervene to regulate where a profession poses a significant risk of harm to the public. Only allopathic professions are currently regulated.

All other provinces in Canada operate on the old medical licensing system, which grants an effective monopoly to allopaths. Doctors in Nova Scotia can practice homeopathy without fear of censure, but in Ontario, doctors are censured if they use homeopathy. A new law is being proposed which would allow doctors to practice alternative methods.

All schools of homeopathy in Canada offer diplomate status and all offer three-year, part-time courses (one or two weekends per month plus perhaps one or two evenings per week). There are no legal doctorate or university degree programs for homeopathy in Canada. A doctorate in any field other than allopathic medicine cannot legally be used while practicing alternative medicine. There are a few professional associations in Canada each with their own version of what constitutes competent standards. No single group speaks for the profession as a whole.