About OAO

The Ontario Association of Osteopathic Manual Practitioners is committed to fostering the practice and professional advancement of osteopathy in Ontario.

Our Purpose

Founded in 1999, the Ontario Association of Osteopathic Manual Practitioners (OAO) is a voluntary, not-for-profit professional association, promoting the practice of osteopathy and maintaining the standards for safe and effective treatment. The OAO also organizes the continuation of professional development courses to advance the knowledge of Osteopathy within the province.

Our members are dedicated to safe and effective osteopathic treatment.

Our Objectives

  1. To promote the practice of osteopathy in the Province of Ontario
  2. To develop, establish and maintain standards of practice for the safe, 
    effective and ethical practice of osteopathy by members in Ontario, consistent with the public interest
  3. To seek support in Ontario for the enactment of legislation by government to regulate osteopathy by non-physician practitioners of osteopathy
  4. To make representation and submissions to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, the Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council, the Government of Ontario and others for the enactment of such legislation
  5. To represent and advocate the position of the members in Ontario, consistent with the public interest in safe, effective and ethical osteopathic health care, before administrative tribunals, health institutions, other professional organizations, the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, regulatory colleges, the provincial and federal governments and to the public
  6. To provide continuing educational programs in order to advance the knowledge of osteopathy in Ontario
  7. To promote the common interest and activities of the members in Ontario

If you have a concern or complaint about an OAO member, please contact us.

Who is the OAO?

  • We’re an advocacy body that promotes the goals of our members in Ontario
  • We’re an educational resource for the public, health care professional associations, governments and the insurance industry
  • We’re a support organization for our members as well as students of osteopathic manual therapy and individuals who have an interest in our work
  • We’re a professional practice organization

OAO Code of Ethics

You can download the Ontario Association of Osteopathic Manual Practitioners Code of Ethics Booklet here.


The OAO is a provincial member of the Canadian Federation of Osteopaths (CFO). Founded in 2003, the Canadian Federation of Osteopaths (CFO) represents osteopathy in Canada and internationally. Its members are established provincial associations. For more information, please visit www.osteopathy.ca

OAO is also a proud partner of the Osteopathic International Alliance (OIA). The mission of the OIA is to encourage systems of education and regulation that will ensure high standards for safe and effective health care from osteopaths and osteopathic physicians. For more information, please visit oialliance.org .


The following information should be reviewed by individuals who are preparing to study osteopathy as well as individuals who are interested in applying to become a student, active (working in Ontario) or affiliate (working in Canada but not in Ontario) member of the Ontario Association of Osteopathic Manual Practitioners (OAO).


In November 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a benchmarks document to serve as a reference for national authorities who wish to establish systems of training, examination and licensure that support the qualified practice of osteopathy. The document presents what is considered to be the minimum level of adequate knowledge, skills and awareness of indications and contraindications for safe practice that would be obtained from an osteopathic program of study. This document was developed in consultation with many expert participants from the worldwide osteopathic community.

Access document here

One important aspect of osteopathy education and training is the total amount of time in the program as well as the amount of time devoted to supervised, hands-on training in palpation (touch).  For individuals who have no clinical training (or health care background), a program in osteopathy should be a total of at least 4200 hours including at least 1000 hours of supervised, hands-on training in palpation from a skilled, professional Osteopathic Manual Practitioner.

For individuals who have had clinical or health care training (within the Ontario environment this is considered to refer to a regulated health care professional), an osteopathy program may be less than a total of 4200 hours (if the required training did occur previously during prior clinical or health care training) but 1000 hours of supervised, hands-on training in palpation from a skilled, Osteopathic Manual Practitioner is still needed.  

The OAO utilizes the WHO benchmarks document to determine whether or not educational institutions provide the necessary skills, knowledge and clinical training to students, including supervised, hands-on training in palpation from a skilled Osteopathic Manual Practitioner, so that when they graduate they will be able to maintain a qualified, independent practice in osteopathy. In addition, the OAO has developed a competencies profile for an entry level Osteopathic Manual Practitioner who is an OAO member which is utilized as part of the process to recognize the osteopathic programs provided by the various educational institutions.

There are many educational programs of study in osteopathy throughout the world.  However, not all of these programs of study are recognized by the OAO. It is up to you to determine if the program of study offered is the one you wish to take.  Be wary of educational/training institutions that require you to be a member and/or pay fees to other organizations in order to be “licensed” to practice osteopathy, or, suggest that you will graduate as an “osteopath”. 

In Ontario, there is no system of licensure for practitioners of osteopathy other than physicians who may practice as osteopaths in certain provinces. For this reason, be wary of any educational institution that states that you will graduate as an “osteopath”.

The OAO promotes the highest standard of osteopathic education and training and the highest, safest standard of ethical, osteopathic practice. As discussed in the World Health Organization’s benchmarks document, osteopathy is practiced in many countries throughout the world. There are manual therapists who use osteopathic techniques, and claim to provide osteopathic treatment, although they may not have received proper training.

In Ontario, there are universities (that offer undergraduate and graduate degrees and other professional programs), community colleges, private career colleges and post-secondary private schools such as those that offer osteopathy education and training.  Osteopathy programs are not offered in private career colleges; for this reason, educational institutions that offer osteopathy programs are not registered as a private career college under the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005. 

The OAO Board of Directors approves, but does not accredit, educational institutions for the purpose of accepting individuals as members of the OAO.  Currently, there are only two OAO board approved, Ontario-based educational institutions whose students and graduates are eligible to become student members and active, or affiliate, members, respectively, of the OAO – the Canadian College of Osteopathy in Toronto and the Canadian Academy of Osteopathy in Hamilton.

The Ontario Association of Osteopathic Manual Practitioners (OAO) is a voluntary not-for-profit organization promoting excellence in the practice of osteopathy. In keeping with OAO’s commitment to the professional development and advancement of osteopathy, the Board of Directors and the Standards Committee are currently reviewing the membership application criteria and process. It has been over three years since the OAO reviewed the board-approved list of institutions. Considering changes and advancements that have taken place within the field of osteopathy, the OAO will not be adding institutions to the list while the criteria is being reviewed. All recommended changes will be presented to the OAO membership at the May 2, 2019 Annual Meeting.

in Ontario

The practice of (non-medical) manual osteopathy is not currently recognized as a regulated health profession under the Ontario Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991, or any other legislation.  Regulated health care professions have a defined scope of practice under profession-specific Acts. There is no law that defines a scope of practice for osteopathy. However, many OAO members are regulated health care professionals, such as nurses, massage therapists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists, who have sought additional education and training in order to provide manual (non-medical) osteopathic assessment, care and treatment. Some of our members are graduates of osteopathy educational programs in Europe where the practise of osteopathic manual practitioners is regulated and practitioners can legally use the title “osteopath” in their home country.

Group health insurance (extended health) benefits, which are paid by private health insurance companies, often include the services provided by Osteopathic Manual Practitioners who are OAO members. Please contact your benefits administrator for information about your group plan, benefits and limitations with respect to coverage for the services of an Osteopathic Manual Practitioner who is an OAO member.

The OAO is working to create the necessary documentation to submit to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, as required, on behalf of our membership. The process leading to regulation often takes several years to complete. Once successful, our members will be regulated health care professionals in Ontario, in addition to osteopathic physicians, who are regulated by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.

Osteopathic Manual Practitioner have extensive training in manual osteopathic practice.  They assess and treat patients using an osteopathic philosophy and manual techniques only. The education and clinical training needed to become an Osteopathic Manual Practitioner is available in Canada.

Privacy Policy

OAO and its contracted service providers are committed to protecting the privacy of its members. Note, all personal information collected by OAO is done so in accordance with the following privacy policy.

What is Personal Information?

For the purposes of the Federal Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), “personal information” is defined as any information that can be used to distinguish, identify or contact a specific individual. This information can include an individual’s opinions or beliefs (e.g. religion or political affiliation), as well as facts about, or related to, the individual.

There are exceptions: business contact information and certain publicly available information-such as names, addresses and telephone numbers (as published in telephone directories)-are not considered personal information. Where an individual uses his or her home contact information as business contact information, the contact information provided is regarded as business contact information and is not subject to protection as personal information.

Protecting Your Personal Information

Certain processes exist where we may collect personal information such as application forms, membership renewals. Find a practitioner public listing and event registrations. OAO collects no personal information about you unless you choose to provide that information to us. Any personally identifiable data is stored securely and used only for the purpose for which it is provided to us.

The information you provide to OAO allows the association to fulfill your benefits of membership and inform you about association programs and initiatives. By becoming a member, you are giving OAO permission to contact you by way of the information you provide.

Aggregate Data

OAO may share aggregate data about the composition of our membership but not individual data. This information is used to better understand the association’s membership.


The operating system for the OAO Web site (www.osteopathyontario.org) may automatically record some general information about your visit, such as:

  • The Internet domain for your Internet service provider, such as “company.com” or "service.ca" and the IP address of the computer accessing the Web site, such as “ppp-55″
  • The type of browser (such as “Netscape version x” or “Internet Explorer version x”) you are using
  • The type of operating system you are using (such as Macintosh, Unix, or Windows)
  • The date and time you visit our site and the web pages that you visit on our site, along with the address of the previous Web site you were visiting, if you linked to us from another Website
  • If you are logged into this site, your user name may be recorded along with the date and time of your visit, which pages you viewed, etc.

The OAO Web site may use “cookies” that identify you as a return visitor. A cookie is a piece of data that a Web site can send to your browser, which may then store the cookie on your hard drive. So, when you come back to visit OAO’s Website again, information can be tailored to suit your individual preferences. The goal is to save you time and provide you with a more meaningful visit and to measure Website activity. Browsers such as Netscape allow you to disable cookie collection if you wish, or inform you when a cookie is being stored on your hard drive.

For more information about OAO’s privacy policy please contact:
Ontario Association of Osteopathic Manual Practitioners
2219-160 Tycos Drive, Box 218, Toronto, ON M6B 1W8
Tel: 416-968-2563