VANCOUVER, British Columbia—Specsavers, a Canadian eyecare and eyewear provider, has announced their sponsorship of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO), which represents the interests of institutions of optometric education and enhances the efforts of these institutions as they prepare graduates of optometry to best serve the public’s eye health needs, the organization stated. Latest reports from the Government of Canada project a labor shortage of optometrists over the period of 2022-2031 and anticipates job prospects for the profession to remain very strong.

With only two optometry schools in Canada, the University of Waterloo offers the only program available for English-speaking students who wish to pursue the profession, accepting 90 students each year, according to the announcement. The intake capacity has remained the same since the early 2000s. Meanwhile, Statistics Canada reported that the population of English-speaking Canada has grown by 37 percent and the aging population by 48 percent within that time.

“The availability of doctors has fallen behind population growth and the needs of the demographic in the country," said Bill Moir, general manager at Specsavers Canada. "To deliver on the increasing eyecare needs of patients and customers, we're collaborating closely with ASCO, whose membership includes American colleges of optometry, University of Waterloo, and Université de Montréal, to close the labor gap.”

Specsavers is the only Canadian corporate contributor of ASCO, according to the company, which is actively working with schools to address the shortage of optometrists by furthering initiatives aimed at increasing interest in the profession, capacity for education and ultimately, access to quality care for Canadians.

“As the world’s largest, optometrist-owned and -led organization, we believe in investing in the future of optometry and supporting the next generation of professionals,” said Dr. Laurie Lesser, head of optometry attraction at Specsavers Canada. “We're proud to contribute to the development of Canadian optometry students studying across Canada and the USA, helping them access the resources and opportunities they need to pursue the profession and excel in their studies.”

"Collaborating with generous organizations such as Specsavers through our Corporate Contributors Program nurtures robust, forward-thinking, and evidence-based optometric education that benefits the eye and vision health of patients around the globe today and well into the future," said Dawn Mancuso, executive vice president/CEO of ASCO. “Specsavers is demonstrating its commitment to optometry in Canada, and we’re thrilled to have them as a strong Canadian supporter to help us further our educational mission.”