B.C. teachers’ strike sparks reaction from RMT community

Debate over benefits “underscores” importance of massage in health care
Massage Therapy Canada staff
September 08, 2014
By Massage Therapy Canada staff
Sept. 8, 2014 – The association representing registered massage therapists in B.C. has declined to directly comment on the on-going teachers’ strike in the province following failed union negotiations with the government over benefits and compensation, but is highlighting the importance of massage therapy as a health-care service. B.C. Premier Christy Clark has urged the union to be “realistic” with its position regarding benefits and wages, and made reference to the employee union's demand for $3,000 annual benefits for doctor-prescribed massage therapy treatments. The B.C. Teachers' Federation has, in recent weeks, dropped that request from its list of demands.
“The issue of massage therapy coverage for workers in B.C. has recently received media attention,” the Registered Massage Therapist Association of British Columbia (RMTBC) said in a statement. “Although we are happy that massage therapy enjoys a high profile as an effective health-care treatment, we have no desire to comment on any negotiated benefit between unions and employers.”

The debate, however, underscores the reality that registered massage therapists provide an effective and important health-care service, used by more than 67 per cent of B.C. residents, the association said.

“RMTs are highly trained and skilled professionals who assist patients with a variety of health-care issues such as workplace stress, accident recovery, and sports and performance injuries. RMTs are qualified to assess the soft tissues and joints of the body, and to treat symptoms of pain and dysfunction, including the underlying causes,” the RMTBC said.

About 62 per cent of British Columbians have health-care insurance that covers massage therapy treatments. Most visits to RMTs in the province are referrals by a medical professional. Fifty-two per cent of extended health-care plans that cover RMT visits are provided through employers.

The RMTBC also offered some quick facts about the profession in B.C.:

· There are approximately 3,300 RMTs in British Columbia

· Just over one-half (53 per cent) of B.C. residents have visited an RMT to treat muscle pain, closely followed by being treated for neck and shoulder pain (51 per cent) and back pain (47 per cent)

· One-quarter (26 per cent) of B.C. residents have visited an RMT to treat stress, and a small minority (10 to 15 per cent) to treat headaches, posture problems or tendinosis/carpal tunnel syndrome

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