On January 1, 2020, the Massage Therapist Titles Protection Act came into force in Nova Scotia. The Act sets out a number of requirements that must be met before a person may use the title “massage therapist”, “registered massage therapist”, or any similar title or abbreviation (including “RMT”). These requirements are as follows:
Individuals who do not meet the above requirements are prohibited from using the RMT title in Nova Scotia.
FOMTRAC (Federation of Massage Therapy Regulatory Authorities of Canada) has recently become aware of some media reports that state or imply that massage therapy is now “regulated” in Nova Scotia in the same manner as in the provinces that have instituted statutory regulation of massage therapy: Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Ontario, and British Columbia.
This is incorrect. In the provinces named immediately above – which together comprise FOMTRAC’s membership – massage therapy is fully regulated under statute. This means, among other things, that massage therapists require annual relicensing; are subject to the regulator’s authority in terms of continuing competence and education; must adhere to the regulator’s professional standards and code of ethics; and are subject to a public complaints, investigation, and discipline process and to the potential sanctions arising from that process. Unlike an association, which can at most expel a person from membership even in cases of serious misconduct – a process which, if it happens at all, is not public and creates no public record – a statutory regulator addressing similar misconduct has the power to reach a formal disciplinary outcome that will create a permanent public record. Without this formal outcome and record, an RMT can simply move on to a new professional association, or seek registration in a neighbouring province.
Furthermore, in Canada, members of regulated professions and occupations have interprovincial mobility rights (“labour mobility”) under the Canadian Free Trade Agreement. It is important to understand that these transfer rights do not apply to RMTs from provinces without full statutory regulation of massage therapy, including Nova Scotia.
None of the above is intended as criticism of the Nova Scotia legislation, which provides a limited degree of public protection that did not previously exist in that province. But as the Act’s name makes clear, it is primarily concerned with title protection for RMTs, and does not provide the range of public protection powers granted to regulators who exercise full statutory regulatory authority.