Dear CRMTA Members,
With all the rapid changes and updates regarding the Coronavirus and its effect on our members, we wanted to reach out to you again with an update.
As you may be aware, this week on our Facebook page and website, we issued the following statement:
With the developments of the Coronavirus pandemic, CRMTA feels the personal safety of therapists, clients and the public must be prioritized.
Currently, the CRMTA is (strongly) recommending all our therapists temporarily suspend their massage therapy services until at least April 1, 2020.
We have been receiving numerous questions, calls and emails regarding the effect the COVID-19 pandemic will have on massage therapists. Below are some responses for our members.
1. Why is CRMTA strongly recommending closure and not forcing you to close your practice?
As an association, we do not have the legal authority to force you not to work. However, based on the government’s recommendations, we are strongly recommending that you temporarily suspend your massage therapy services.
2. If therapists continue practicing, are they still covered under malpractice insurance if a client becomes infected with the coronavirus and pursues legal action against said therapist?
Answer from our legal representative:
“If a therapist knows they have this virus and causes a client to be infected, that is gross misconduct.”
If you have travelled, you are required to self-isolate for 14 days. Failure to do so would also be considered gross misconduct.
But if they are not showing any signs of infection?
“The answer is very fact dependent. There is no black or white answer, only gray.
Basically, a therapist must act in a reasonable manner. If they act in a way that a reasonable therapist would not act, then they may be negligent and may not be covered.”
3. Should I close my clinic?
As Alberta has declared a state of health emergency, this means non-essential services and public spaces will be closed until further notice. CRMTA strongly recommends that you follow these directives. We understand that the financial and health risk to close your clinic or practice is complicated and difficult, however, this is an individual decision. CRMTA does not have the legal authority to compel members to close their practice.
The CRMTA Code of Ethics and your right to refuse treatment states that if it poses a risk to the client or the practitioner, you are to abide by applicable laws, regulations, and legislation.
We recommend you stay informed of government recommendations. Regularly check government health services for updates on the current status of the virus, hygiene practices for health professionals and workplace preparations. Also, regularly check the CRMTA website and Facebook pages for updates.
4. What can I do to protect myself?
- Stay home or self-isolate if you have any symptoms, have travelled or been exposed.
- Hand hygiene and washing with soap and water
- Social distancing
- If you suspect exposure – call 811 Health Services to notify.
- Alberta Health Services has an online self-assessment tool that you can use to determine if you have symptoms of COVID-19.
5. What impact will the COVID-19 have on my membership?
For members with upcoming renewal dates, please send renewal forms by email to us for processing.
All documents can be emailed or scanned.
During this unprecedented time, we will accept a picture of your documents from a phone for registration and renewals.
All payments will be made online through our insurance provider online. Payments can be made by credit card. If you do not have a credit card, you can purchase a prepaid card at local stores to make payment.
If your continuing education 3-year cycle is due with your upcoming renewal, we are postponing CE requirements for the time being.
Processing time for renewals, email responses and voicemail replies will be longer than usual.
We appreciate your understanding while we are doing our best to assist our members remotely.
6. What is CRMTA doing about employers who are not closing their clinics?
At this time, CRMTA has been contacting clinics and employers informing them of our recommendations for closures as needed. If any CRMTA member has any difficulties, please contact us directly.
7. Are there any financial resources available?
To help prevent layoffs, the government is also eyeing a measure that would provide businesses struggling with the economic impact of COVID-19 with a subsidy equal to 10 percent of employee wages, up to $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. The wage subsidy would cost $3.8 billion, Ottawa estimates.
Ottawa is moving the tax-filing deadline from April 30 to June 1 for individuals, mirroring a similar move implemented in the U.S. Canadians will also be able to defer payments on taxes owed.
Help for Canadian Businesses
The Canadian government will allow businesses to defer payments of income tax amounts until after Aug. 31. No interest or penalties will accumulate.
The government will also increase the tax credits available to small, medium and large businesses.
On Monday, Trudeau announced the new Business Credit Availability Program, which will provide more than $10 billion in additional support to businesses through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada.
And, the government said it would “further expand Export Development Canada’s ability to provide support for domestic businesses and provide flexibility on the Canada Account limit so that the government can support Canadian businesses of national interest.”
The government will also augment the credit available to farmers and the agri-food sector through Farm Credit Canada.
Lastly, the government will launch an Insured Mortgage Protection Program to purchase up to $50 billion of insured mortgage pools through CMHC.
The Government said it will do this by raising CMHC’s legislative limits to “guarantee securities and insure mortgages by $150 billion each,” the release said.
Sickness benefits beyond EI
For Canadians without paid sick leave or access to Employment Insurance sickness benefits, the government is introducing a new Emergency Care Benefit that will provide up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks. The benefit, which the government estimates could cost up to $10 billion, is for the worker who must self-isolate, those who are caring for a family member sick with COVID-19 and parents who are unable to earn income while schools are closed as a result of childcare duties.
Unemployment benefits beyond EI
Ottawa will also be extending income supports to workers who lose their jobs or see their hours reduced as a result of the pandemic.
The Canada Revenue Agency will provide up to $5 billion for unemployed workers without access to EI through a new Emergency Support Benefit.