MLN Vol.4.No.4

Massage Law Newsletter

Vol. 4, No. 4 - Revised Edition        ISSN 1073-5461                                           July 1998



Let There Be Light

To: Susan Stewart, President

       Committee of Massage Therapists

       of British Columbia 

From: Albert Schatz, Editor

Our Massage Law Newsletter is concerned with regulation of massage on state and local levels. We are therefore interested in the controversy in which the College of Massage Therapists (CMT) is presently engaged with the British Columbia Coalition of Allied Bodywork Practitioners (BCCABP).

We plan to publish a report which presents information about both sides of this controversy. We have information from BCCABP about its position. I am therefore now writing to you for information about CMT's position. Specifically, we would appreciate your explaining:

1. why British Columbia needs to regulate massage therapists when seven Canadian provinces do not regulate them?

2. why CMT's wants to eliminate unregistered  massage therapists.

3. how CMT justifies its 3000-hour training.

Does CMT want to protect the public from harm by unregistered massage therapists? If so,

1. How many people have been harmed by unregistered and registered massage therapists?

2. What was the nature of and how serious were their injuries?

3. What medical treatment, if any, did injured individuals receive?

4. What evidence is there that the harm was indeed caused by unregistered massage therapists?

5. How many people does CMT believe have to be injured by unregistered massage therapists, and how serious does CMT believe their injuries have to be in order to justify requiring all massage therapists in British Columbia to be registered?

6. Why should British Columbia deny consumers the right to choose registered or unregistered massage therapists, as consumers do in Ontario?

Why does CTM need a 3000-hour training?

1. Why does British Columbia require a 3000-hour training when Ontario requires only 2200 hours?

2. Did CMT increase the training from 2200 to 3000 hours because massage therapists with the 2200-hour training harmed people?

3. Does CMT define competence as on-the-job performance? If not, how does CMT define competence?

4. How does CMT objectively evaluate the competence of registered massage therapists?

5. Does CMT's 3000-hour training produce massage therapists who are 36% more competent than those with a 2200-hour training, and 500% more competent than those with a 500-hour training?

6. Does CMT believe that massage therapists with the 3000-hour training harm fewer people than massage therapists with the 2200-hour training?

Prostitution. What evidence does CMT have that regulation of massage therapists has reduced  prostitiution?


If CMT cannot justify (a) requiring all massage therapists to be registered, and (b) its 3000-hour training, how can one avoid concluding that CMT's objective is to gain monopoly control of massage by eliminating competition from unregistered massage therapists in order to benefit financially?

Thank you for your reply.

cc: David MacAulay, Health Professions Council

Sandy Mitchell, President, Massage Therapy  Association of BC

Lincoln Lau, BCCABP




Mr. George K. Bryce

Chair, Scope of Practice Committee

Committee for Massage Therapy Board

#103 - 1089 West Broadway

Vancouver, BC, Canada

Dear Mr. Bryce:

We want to report the controversy in which the College of Massage Therapists BC (CMT) is presently involved with the British Columbia Coalition of Allied Bodywork Practitioners.

I am writing to you becuase

1, Your memo of May 22, 1998, addressed to "Dear Massage Therapist" was on the "Subject: Membership Questions regarding Researved Acts for RMTs" Part One includes a question about harm, by non-RMTs, that actually occurred. Part Two included a question about potential harm.

2. Your letter of June 19, 1998, addressed to Mary McCrea, at the Health Professions Council, included three references to the risk of harm by unregulated massage therapists. Specifically, you wrote, "In the near future, the College will be submitting a revised scope of practice proposal..." [which] "will be justified on the basis of an analysis of risk of harm to the public."

In connection with the report we plan to publish on the above-mentioned controversy, I would appreciate your advising me on the following issues:

1. How many peole have to be harmed by non-RMTs and how serious do the injuries have to be in order to justify the CMT's proposing that the Health Professions Council restrict the practice of non-RMTs any more than the present law does?

2. I assume that CMT was not aware of harm, which non-RMTs might have caused, before CMT distributed its survey, on May 22, 1998, to obtain information about such harm. If that is correct, why did CMT so suddenly become concerned about such harm?

3. Will CMT present reports of harm which has already occurred (obtained from its survey) that will be well-documented and available for verification by interested parties independently of CMT?

Thank you for this information which I know wil be of interest to our readers.

        Sincerely yours,

        Albert Schatz, Ph.D., Editor

cc: Mary McCrea, Health Professions Council   

      David MacAulay, Health Professions Council

      Susan Stewart, College of Massage Therapists BC

      Sandy Mitchell, Massage Therapy Association  BC

      Lincoln Lau, BCCABP



Quebec conducted a comprehensive two-year research project designed to uncover harm caused by massage.  No practitioners, regardless of their training, caused any harm. This is why Quebec does not regulate massage.


The Ontario College of Massage Therapy requires 2200-hour training, and restricts the use of the title Massage Therapist to those who meet this requirement. Others, with less training, may not use that title but may use the generic term massage to describe what they do. This includes advertising. Consumers therefore have a choice of licensed and unlicensed massage practitioners. Unlicensed practitioners in Ontario are permitted to do massage because they have not harmed people.

Doug Alexander reported, in 1994,that "roughly once every twelve months one ... out of the 1,700 massage therapists currently licensed in [Ontario] is publicly disciplined or has their license revoked for sexual impropriety." He cited no evidence that provincial regulation of massage therapists deters sexual harassment more effectively than other laws which prohibit sexual molestation. Nor did he provide evidence that unlicensed massage practitioners in Ontario sexually harass and/or physically injure clients

This information indicates that people in Ontario are more likely to be sexually molested than physically harmed by licensed massage therapists.

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