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Regulation of Massage Therapists in Quebec


Release Date: 09/01/2015
Staff Reference: Joan Weir; Claude Di Stasio

September 1, 2015

Monsieur Gaétan Barrette
Ministre de la Santé et des Services Sociaux
1075, chemin Sainte-Foy, 15e étage
Édifice Catherine-de-Longpré
Québec, Quebec G1S 2M1

e-mail: ministre@msss.gouv.qc.ca

Dear Minister:

Re: Regulation of Massage Therapists

On behalf of the Canadian life and health insurance industry, I am providing a follow-up letter to my previous communication dated January 30, 2013 from our President, Frank Swedlove, to encourage the province of Quebec to regulate massage therapists. This would follow the lead of those provinces who have already regulated the profession (Ontario, British Columbia, and Newfoundland), and other provinces (Alberta and Manitoba) that have recommended regulation or are considering regulation.

This letter follows the recent announcement from the Collège des médecins of Quebec (CMQ) supporting regulation of massage therapists (Quebec's college of physicians supports massage therapy regulation). Quebec physicians believe that the regulation of massage therapists will be integral to providing protection to the public through the delivery of therapeutic massage therapy services by Registered Massage Therapists.

The CLHIA is a voluntary trade association with member companies that account for 99 per cent of Canada's life and health insurance business. In Quebec, at the end of 2013, the life and health insurance industry provided some 5.6 million Quebec residents with supplementary health benefit coverage and made payments of roughly $4 billion. During 2013, the industry reimbursed roughly $257 million for paramedical and other healthcare goods and services - which includes the reimbursement for massage therapy services.

Massage therapy benefits are often included as part of an employee's overall benefits plan. In the absence of regulation, each insurer independently determines the requirements that a massage therapist must meet in order for their services to be eligible for coverage under the insurer's benefit plans. Quite often, insurers will look to the requirements of provinces that have regulated massage therapists to determine reasonable requirements for coverage. For example, many of our members require massage therapists to have a minimum of 2200 hours of education and training which is the standard that has been adopted by those provinces that currently regulate massage therapy although there is recognition that this standard might not apply in the province of Quebec.

In addition to providing greater clarity for insurers, regulation of healthcare providers, such as massage therapists, helps to ensure that the services that they provide are delivered in accordance with minimum standards of practice, and this enhances the protection of the public generally.

Finally, residents of Quebec may benefit from a tax perspective if massage therapists are regulated. Section 752.0.11.1 of the Taxation Act provides a limited tax credit in respect of medical expenses as defined in section 118.2 of the Income Tax Act (Canada). The federal act defines eligible expenses to include the services of "medical practitioners", including massage therapists, but only if such practitioners are regulated in the jurisdiction in which they provide services. We believe that it would be beneficial for Quebec residents to also have access to this tax credit as it would help mitigate some of the burden of seeking therapeutic massage treatments.

As the Quebec Office of the Professions has announced a review of all professions regulated through their office, we believe the time is right to consider regulation of massage therapists.

Thank you for your attention to this important issue. We would be pleased to discuss this with your officials at their convenience or provide any other information, if you would find it helpful. They can contact the undersigned at 514-845-9004 or by email to cdistasio@clhia.ca.

Sincerely,

Original Signed by

Claude Di Stasio
Vice-President, Quebec Affairs

Cc: Jean Paul Dutrisac, President, Office of the Professions