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Letter to Monsieur Réjean Hébert Re: Regulation of Massage Therapy - Quebec

Release Date: 02/06/2013
Staff Reference: Karen Voin

February 6, 2013

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

Dear Minister:

Re: Regulation of Massage Therapy

On behalf of the Canadian life and health insurance industry, I am writing to encourage the province of Quebec to make massage therapy a regulated profession. 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.

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 2011, the life and health insurance industry provided some 5.5 million Quebec residents with supplementary health benefit coverage and made payments of roughly $3.9 billion. During 2011, the industry reimbursed roughly $192 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.

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 massage treatments.

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. Please have them contact Claude Di Stasio, Vice President- Quebec Affairs at (514)-845-9004 ext 223.


(Original signed by)

Frank Swedlove