CMTO drafts new standards in line with new sexual abuse prevention legislation

Massage Therapy Canada staff
June 13, 2017
By Massage Therapy Canada staff
The College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO) has drafted a new standard in light of the recent passage of a provincial legislation aimed at cracking down on incidents of sexual abuse of clients across all regulated health professions in Ontario.

Bill 87, Protecting Patients Act, implements measures to further protect clients or patients from sexual abuse by a regulated health professional, and is expected to affect the way registered massage therapists practice their massage therapy, according to the CMTO.

"For example, there is now an expanded list of acts of sexual abuse that lead to mandatory revocation of a massage therapist's certificate of registration (e.g. touching of a sexual nature of the client's genitals, anus, breasts or buttocks)," CMTO's director of professional practice, Marnie Lofsky, said in a letter to RMTs.

"The legislation also authorizes immediate restrictions on or suspension of a registrant's practice as soon as a complaint is received by the inquiries, complaints and reports committee if that committee is of the opinion that the registrant's conduct exposes or is likely to expose their clients to harm or injury."

The complete list of amendments to the Act is posted on the Ontario Legislative Assembly website.

The CMTO's draft new Standards for Maintaining Professional Boundaries and Preventing Sexual Abuse outlines the requirements and expectations for obtaining client consent prior to the treatment of sensitive areas; the appropriate treatment of friends and family members – which excludes romantic, sexual partners or spouses, whom RMTs cannot treat; maintaining professional boundaries; as well as explaining post-termination relationships and mandatory reporting requirements of RMTs, the college said.

"The Standards articulate the minimum acceptable performance by the massage therapy profession in Ontario, and act to protect the public through their application in the disciplinary processes of the College," Lofsky said. The new standards will replace existing CMTO standards on the topics of sexual abuse and professional boundaries.

The CMTO's council has approved in principle the draft new standards at its meeting last May. While awaiting final approval and feedback from registrants, the CMTO recommends that RMTs begin practicing in accordance with the draft new standards.

"Complying with the standards now will ensure that registrants are in alignment with the Protecting Patients Act, 2017," Lofsky said.

Ontario RMTs are requested to provide their feedback on the draft new standards through an online survey, which should be completed by 5:00 pm on July 7, 2017. Feedbacks and survey results will be confidential and will only be reported in an aggregate form without individual identifiers.

"Going forward, CMTO will continue to monitor the regulatory climate and work collaboratively with Ontario's health regulators to ensure a smooth implementation of the new legislation," Lofsky said.

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