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B.C. health ministry issues changes to massage therapy regulation

British Columbia’s Ministry of Health has made amendments to the province’s Health Professions Act pertaining to the massage therapy profession.


May 12, 2015
By Mari-Len De


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The amendments, contained in Ministerial Order M102, revised the
definition of “massage therapy” under section 1 of the Massage
Therapists Regulation, B.C. Reg. 28012008. Under the amendment, massage
therapy is defined as “the health profession in which a person provides,
for the purposes of developing, maintaining, rehabilitating or
augmenting physical function, or relieving pain or promoting health, the
services of:
(a) assessment of soft tissue and joints of the body, and
(b)
treatment and prevention of physical dysfunction, injury, pain and
disorders of soft tissue and joints of the body by manipulation,
mobilization and other manual methods.

The new amendments also
repealed section 5 of the regulation, which essentially removes massage
therapy from being a “restricted activity.” This means non-registrants
may now perform massage therapy.  However, according to the College of
Massage Therapists of British Columbia (CMTBC), non-registrants are
still prohibited from using reserved titles, which include: registered
massage therapist, massage therapist, registered massage practitioner,
and massage practitioner.

Section 6 of the Massage Therapists
Regulation has also been repealed and replaced with a new provision on
“limits or conditions on services.” The new provision states that no
registrant may prescribe or administer drugs or anaesthetics, treat a
recent fracture of a bone, apply any form of medical electricity, or
move a joint of the spine beyond the limits the body can voluntarily
achieve using a high velocity, low amplitude thrust.

“The
Ministry of Health has specifically advised the College that low level
laser therapy is a prohibited form of medical electricity that must not
be performed by registrants,” the CMTBC said in a post on its website.

However,
while the term “medical electricity” has yet to be defined by
government, the CMTBC has taken the position that electric heating pads,
electric blankets, the “Thumper”, and infrared therapy are all
permissible.

Changes to B.C.’s massage therapy regulation are part of the provincial government’s initiative to implement a new “shared scope of practice/restricted activities regulatory mode under the Health Professions Act,” guided by the recommendations contained in the 2001 report by the Health Professions Council titled, "Safe Choices: A New Model for Regulating Health Professions in British Columbia."

The CMTBC explains
what this initiative means to massage therapy professionals in the
province: “Registrants may begin to notice more non-registrants offering
to provide ‘massage therapy’ services, which is now permissible under
the legislation. While the College will no longer accept unauthorized
practice complaints, it will continue to accept and process complaints
regarding the unauthorized use of protected titles.

“Given that
the application of medical electricity and high amplitude low velocity
thrusts to the spine have always been outside the scope of massage
therapy, the amended regulation should not have any perceptible impact
on registrant’s daily practice.”


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