07/02/2013 01:21 EDT | Updated 09/01/2013 05:12 EDT

Saskatchewan toughens hearing aid sale rules; practitioners need more education

REGINA - People who sell hearing aids in Saskatchewan are going to need more education.

The government has changed the rules so that practitioners will have to get a diploma from an approved two-year course in hearing instrument sciences.

The new requirement is consistent with most other Canadian provinces.

People who are already working in the field will be given time to get their diploma or go through a competency review.

The province says the changes have been in the works for a couple of years.

Concerns about hearing aid sales were raised in May by one certified hearing-aid practitioner who said people — especially seniors — were at risk because of poor education requirements in Saskatchewan.

Ron Schick said a woman brought her elderly father in to get a second opinion about a hearing aid because the man's ear hurt. Schick said that when he looked in the man's eardrum, he found a severe middle ear infection.

Other rule changes will increase the length of the trial period for hearing aids from 30 to 60 days. Followup appointments must also take place no later than 10 days before the end of the trial period.

"These regulation enhancements will better protect and meet the needs of hearing aid customers, including seniors who are hearing impaired," Health Minister Dustin Duncan said in a news release Tuesday.