Joint Letter to Alberta Massage Therapists January 2021

Joint statement to Alberta Massage Therapists

Dear Alberta Massage Therapists,

On January 7th, Premier Jason Kenney made the announcement that previously enacted provincial restrictions would remain in place until January 21st or until further notice. This includes the requirement for all massage therapy treatments within the province of Alberta to be accompanied with a written referral from a regulated health professional.

We collectively have heard from many of our members who are frustrated that this required referral creates an unnecessary barrier to practice, nor does it improve the safety or effectiveness of the treatments they provide, which has always been to the highest standard within our province; and our Boards of Directors completely agree.

As such, the TC-CMTA, CMMOTA, CRMTA, MTAA, and NHPC have signed a joint letter to express our opposition to these restrictions and to encourage this government to accept our application to become a regulated health profession under the Health Professions Act. Please see the attached joint letter that was sent to Premier Kenney, Minister Shandro, and Dr. Deena Hinshaw on January 8, 2021.

Thank you to all of our collective members who took the time to contact their elected officials and express their concerns over these restrictions and to educate their MLA’s on our desire to become a regulated profession. Thank you to those that encouraged their clients, professional peers, family and friends to do the same. Collectively raising our voices in early December was effective in having our closure amended. We sincerely hope that this momentum not only allows for the current restrictions to be removed, but for the regulation of massage therapy to finally move forward in Alberta.

Canadian Massage Therapy Associations Release Covid-19 Manual for Alberta Massage Therapists

December 28, 2020

This is a joint statement by the Canadian Massage and Manual Osteopathic Therapists Association (CMMOTA), the Certified Registered Massage Therapist Association (CRMTA), the Massage Therapist Association of Alberta (MTAA), and the Natural Health Practitioners of Canada Association (NHPC) and supported by the Transitional Council for the College of Massage Therapists of Alberta (TC-CMTA)

We are pleased to present the Massage Therapy industry in Alberta with our jointly established COVID 19 Infection Prevention and Control Manual for Massage Therapists in Alberta document.  This document will come into effect January 4, 2021 and will be enforced by all four associations. Please adjust your massage therapy practices to reflect the requirements in this document.

A list of suppliers where you may be able to source ASTM Level 1 or higher masks is included at the end of this document.  Please be aware that the box should have the level listed on the outside of the box or may contain a paper on the inside of the box stating the ASTM level of the mask.

Be aware that some hand sanitizers have been recalled by Health Canada, so please check to be sure that the hand sanitizer you are providing your clientele has not been recalled – (https://healthycanadians.gc.ca/recall-alert-rappel-avis/hc-sc/2020/73385a-eng.php).

The exemption allowing return to work established on December 22, 2020, which was provided by the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) may be terminated or modified by the CMOH in writing without notice and for any reason as determined by the CMOH.

In the event of additional measures or directives by Alberta public health authorities, if those measures or directives are of a higher standard than this document, the directions of the Alberta public health authority take precedence.

When changes to requirements are made by the Alberta public health authority, we commit to providing the Massage Therapy industry in Alberta with continued joint updates.

We remind all massage therapists that you have the option to return to work, and it remains the choice of the individual therapist on when they choose to return.

We wish you all a safe, healthy, and Happy New Year.

Download the COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control Manual for Massage Therapists in Alberta

Supplier List:

Oliberte https://ca.oliberte.com/category/masks

Staples: https://www.staples.ca/collections/face-masks-8983

Relaxus https://relaxusonline.com/

Chemfax www.chemfax.com

Apollo Management Solutions https://www.apollomanagement.ca/discount/mtaa10

All Clean Natural www.allcleannatural.com

Westkey | Xibita  [email protected] 

CB Medical https://www.cbmedical.ca/ 

Hardy Medical Supplies www.hardymedicalsupplies.com 

Wood Wyant www.woodwyant.com

MDX Services http://www.mdxservices.com/ 

Massage Therapists in Alberta Able to Resume Work Under Guidelines

December 23, 2020

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shando provides an update on massage therapists being permitted to resume work under certain guidelines in Alberta during the current Covid-19 lockdown.
Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro provides an update on massage therapists being permitted to resume work under certain guidelines in Alberta during the current Covid-19 lockdown.

This is a Joint Statement by the Canadian Massage and Manual Osteopathic Therapists Association (CMMOTA), the Certified Registered Massage Therapist Association (CRMTA), the Massage Therapist Association of Alberta (MTAA), and the Natural Health Practitioners of Canada Association (NHPC) and supported by the Transitional Council for the College of Massage Therapists of Alberta (TC-CMTA)

As per the update provided by the Chief Medical Officer of Health, massage therapists are able to resume immediately providing services under the following guidelines:

  1. All clients must have either a written prescription from a Medical Doctor, or a written referral from a regulated health professional (https://www.alberta.ca/regulated-health-professions.aspx)
    1. An existing written prescription is only valid if issued within the last 12 months.
    2. An existing written referral is only valid if issued within the last 12 months.
    3. A copy of the original written prescription or written referral is acceptable. 
    4. The written prescription or written referral must be provided prior to receiving treatment.
    5. A copy of the written prescription or written referral must be kept in the client’s file.
  2. All previous requirements for hygiene standards, PPE, masks, and other barriers issued by the individual associations will still apply until January 4, 2021. We will release the new “Infection Prevention Control Manual for Massage Therapists in Alberta” document before the end of 2020, which will come into effect January 4, 2021.  

This exemption, which has been provided by the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) may be terminated or modified by the CMOH in writing without notice and for any reason as determined by the CMOH.

One of the main requirements in the new “Infection Prevention Control Manual for Massage Therapists in Alberta” document will be the mandatory use of surgical/procedural masks (ASTM Level 1 or higher) by all massage therapists.  We recommend that you start sourcing these immediately in preparation for this change. Until the document comes into effect on January 4, 2021 you may continue to practice under the existing requirements for hygiene standards, PPE, masks, and other barriers issued by the individual associations and under the Guidance to Wellness Services document supplied by the Alberta Government (https://www.alberta.ca/assets/documents/covid-19-relaunch-guidance-wellness-services.pdf)

We remind all massage therapists that you have the option to return to work, and it remains the choice of the individual therapist on when they choose to return.

We wish you all a healthy Happy Holidays and a safe return to work.

Joint Press Release – Back to Work

December 22, 2020

A screenshot of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney giving an update on COVID-19 in a press conference on December 22, 2020
On December 22, 2020 Alberta Premier Jason Kenney provided an update to Albertans on Covid 19, including an update on massage therapists returning to work during the current lockdown.

Today, during our second day of joint meetings between the Transitional Council for the College of Massage Therapists of Alberta, and the four Massage Therapist Associations in the province we were excited to hear the announcement of a pending limited return of Massage Therapy by Health Minister Shandro (https://youtu.be/_vctftbhQ1A?list=PLvrD8tiHIX1L5LKwB0kl-4aJjkK4OuE-l). 

We are waiting to hear specific details from the province and will be providing those to our members as they become available. 

We are pleased to announce that today we have finalized a joint draft “COVID-19 Pandemic Practice Guidelines, Protocols and Best Practices for Massage Therapists in Alberta” that will go back to the Canadian Massage and Manual Osteopathic Therapists Association (CMMOTA), the Certified Registered Massage Therapist Association (CRMTA), the Massage Therapist Association of Alberta (MTAA), and the Natural Health Practitioners of Canada Association (NHPC) for Board approvals and will be released as quickly as possible. These jointly developed protocols will ensure that all Alberta Health Services and Association guidelines and policies are followed by all members in good standing with one of these Associations. This will ensure the protection of the public and provide clarity for our fellow health care professionals.

We thank all those who have spent time over the past weeks advocating on behalf of the massage therapy profession. We hope that the collective advocacy will move the Government of Alberta towards regulating our profession.  We will continue to advocate collectively to have the province allow the full return of Massage Therapy practice and to bring regulation to fruition.

All associations are experiencing a high volume of calls, emails, and inquiries.  We would appreciate your patience and understanding as it will take time to respond. Please refrain from contacting our offices for information as we will release information as soon as it becomes available.

Wishing you continued Health and Safety.

CRMTA Member Update Dec 15

CRMTA along with our fellow massage therapy associations and the council in Alberta are all aggressively advocating for reconsideration of the new restrictions. We strongly believe that our industry should be allowed to remain open for the health and wellness of the clients we care for, and we are working tirelessly to ensure that key leaders in government are notified of our position.

Jointly all the associations and the council put forward one application for regulation during the beginning stages of this pandemic. This application for regulation has been put on hold until spring by the government due to the current pandemic emergency.

We will continue to fight for regulation and work together for our common goal to protect our members, this industry and being allowed to care for our community.

Members will be updated on our progress as we have more news and information.

November COVID19 Update

CRMTA COVID-19 Update

CRMTA has emailed updates to all members on the new COVID restrictions please check your email for these important updates based on Premier Kenny’s and the province’s guidelines from November 23, 2020.

Currently, massage therapists that are properly licensed in your municipalities, will be allowed to operate as per usual with the exception of making sure each client is by appointment only. Which is typically the standard practice in our industry.

If you have any questions please contact our team and they would be happy to help you.

Member Update June 25, 2020

The CRMTA Board would like to thank our members for their patience and understanding while we work diligently to process all the requests being received.  Below please find updates and information regarding guidelines, CE Credits, and a webinar through Telus Health. 

Massage Therapy Guidelines

Previous to June 12, 2020 massage therapy was to be placed in the Health Non-Essential Services category of the reopening.  Now that stage 2 has begun, massage therapy has been placed in the Wellness Services category of the reopening.  Please visit here for all updated information regarding guidelines for massage therapists.

Continuing Education Credits

Due to mass gathering restrictions CRMTA will be temporarily adjusting the allocation of continuing education credits on approved courses.  This will be implemented on June 22, 2020 and will be reassessed on September 1, 2020.  Courses submitted before June 22, 2020 will not be credited retroactively.

Primary Credited Courses:

Effective June 22, 2020 all online massage related courses will be credited with Primary Continuing Education Credits.

Secondary Credited Courses:

Effective June 22, 2020 all non-massage therapy related courses will continue receiving Secondary Continuing Education Credits.  These courses include but are not limited to business related courses, accounting courses, or courses that do not include a practical training component for massage therapy. 

CRMTA will continue to follow all Alberta Health Services and Provincial Government guidelines as we keep our members informed of any updates.  We thank all our members for their patience and understanding as we move toward reopening Alberta.

Webinar Workshop

3 Marketing Essentials to Help Restart your Practice

Telus Health is providing a webinar workshop that will be credited 2 secondary credits. 

When: July 16, 2020 at 12:00pm

Where: Online

If you register and miss this webinar, a link will be sent a few days after July 16, 2020 for you to replay the webinar.

COVID-19 PANDEMIC PRACTICE DIRECTIVE FOR CRMTA MEMBERS

On June 9, 2020 Premier Jason Kenny announced that Stage 2 of the Alberta Relaunch strategy would begin on June 12, 2020. Specifically Massage Therapists are able to resume their business with the necessary COVID Pandemic protocols in place to keep Therapists and their clients healthy and safe.

Please find attached our COVID-19 Pandemic Practice Directive for CRMTA members. If you have further questions please contact our admin team and we’d be happy to help you through the process.

COVID19 Massage Therapy Relaunch FAQs

How will the COVID-19 pandemic affect my membership?

The COVID-19 pandemic will have no effect on your membership as we are all working from home, that has brought some adjustments to how we serve our members.  We are working through large volumes of emails, paperwork, questions, and requests coming in.  Below please find information on membership information.

  1. Current Active members with a renewal date in April and those that are up for renewal in May are currently being processed. Renewal notices for May and June are being emailed out over the next 7-10 days. We are processing the paperwork in the order in which it was received. Members will receive an emailed PDF of their insurance and CRMTA membership once processed. A physical copy can be requested when we return to the CRMTA office.  We will be prioritizing the renewals for Active members to alleviate a gap in insurance for those members. CRMTA will also be deferring police checks, CE Credits and First Aid requirements until each member’s 2021 annual renewal date.
  • Current Associate members who have recently reached 2200 hours of training and are looking to move into the Active status already have an insurance policy in place. While the industry as a whole is closed, we will be working to switch you over to Active status.  Rest assured it will be in line with the Stage 2 reopening plan and you should not have a delay in being able to practice when our industry has been reopened, as long as all other educational requirements have been met. More information to follow shortly. In an effort to support members, CRMTA will also be deferring police checks, CE Credits and First Aid requirements until each member’s 2021 annual renewal dates. Please know these deferrals will not affect your policy or ability to obtain your new status at this time.
  • Current Student members who have recently reached their first year 1250 hours of training and are looking to move into Associate status will be deferred about 30 days until we have a clearer picture of when Stage 2 of the Provincial Reopening Plan will begin.  Since student members will be receiving a brand-new insurance policy, there are no concerns about having gaps in insurance coverage. Therefore, waiting to switch from a student to associate membership until we have a clearer picture of the stage 2 reopening plan makes more sense to ensure that members making this transition will have closer to a full year of working coverage.

Does the COVID-19 pandemic affect my liability insurance?

If a therapist does not knowingly put a client or the public at risk they are protected.  To work in a situation that is unsafe falls under misconduct and would affect your insurance.

Can I deliver services online or by video communications?

CRMTA will allow virtual sessions for our members to provide home care and support during this time.  This is dependent on therapists utilizing this as a support service for their clients during the COVID19 pandemic.  We want to ensure that everyone can do their part to stay home until the serious public health emergency with Covid19 has officially ended.

This care method is not suitable for every client and as we are all aware massage therapy cannot be performed without the element of touch.  However, as therapists you can support your clients during this time with education and support on home care strategies. 

This is a great service to offer your clients during this time and may assist you with client retention upon reopening.  Some therapists will charge clients a small fee for video sessions and some will offer this as a free service to benefit and support their clients and business. Keep in mind therapists cannot bill this service as a full massage therapy session, for insurance covered services.

A Virtual Session can consist of the following:

  • Stretches and exercises- with awareness that you cannot ensure your client is correctly performing them and will need follow-up and reassessment.
  • Hydrotherapy such as hot/cold/contrast therapy can be recommended with using caution about any contraindications and risks. A health intake and clear instructions are vital.
  •   Client instruction on self-care using (foam rollers, balls, etc.) can be recommended but again with caution on usage and safety.
  • Self-massage can also be recommended with guidance on basic techniques that do not cause any injury.

Please note that your CRMTA liability insurance covers you for these areas of practice.  In no way do these suggestions replace that of a physiotherapist, chiropractor, kinesiology or fitness specialist.  We merely give basic guidance on options our clients can safely perform for their own care in between appointments to improve their conditions. 

Can I still treat family members during physical distancing?

You can treat your family members at home if they are in isolation with you.  Remember that treating family members is not recommended for insurance purposes.  At this time insurance is monitoring insurance submissions as massage has not been approved until Stage 2.

How is CRMTA supporting its members?

In an effort to support members, we are monitoring all announcements and how the pandemic is impacting our members and adjusting our measures as needed.  CRMTA will be deferring police checks, CE Credits and First Aid requirements until each member’s 2021 annual renewal dates. Please know these deferrals will not affect your policy or ability to obtain your new status at this time.

What kinds of Continuing Education programs can I do at home?

CRMTA is offering many online continuing educations programs that you can do at home. 

How can I meet my First Aid and CPR requirements with physical distancing?

In an effort to support members, CRMTA will be deferring police checks, CE Credits and First Aid requirements until each member’s 2021 annual renewal dates. Please know these deferrals will not affect your policy or ability to obtain your new status at this time.

Are there any First Aid providers offering online programs?

They can do an online Red Cross or St. Johns approved course.  Note this will require a deferred completion of the practical components at a later date.  CRMTA will be hosting this training when operations resume to assist our members. See a complete list of approved first aid providers here.

When can I return to work?

Alberta’s relaunch strategy has not given a set date or specifics on the Stage 2 relaunch.  We are aware that details will be dependent on the success and health indications determined in the Stage 1 relaunch.

Therefore, until we have this information it is hard to speculate on the outcomes and how that will affect therapists.  We do expect there will be new protocols that will affect therapists, and we will need to follow those guidelines and protocols as put forth by the Alberta government.  

At this time, the government has not yet released any indication as to the personal protective equipment (PPE) or safety guidelines that will be necessary for Stage 2. Please be aware that CRMTA is following all government updates as this information becomes available and will do our best to keep our members informed.  

At this time, we recommend therapists educate themselves on infection control and have made available a free AHS workshop online.  This course is worth 1 primary credits toward your CE.

What can I do to help my practice if I am not working right now?

Video conferencing.  Many therapists are offering incentives such as reduced gift certificate purchases.  Offering more hours upon reopening.  Some are offering mask and PPE sales.  Some are promoting self-care on their social media and on website with home care and other options.

Should I close my practice?

Practice should already be closed until we have dates of the Stage 2 reopen and the guidelines that will be directed to us through Alberta Health Services.  This has not yet been provided and CRMTA is awaiting further details.

What safety precautions can I take?

To help protect you and your family against all respiratory illnesses, including flu and COVID-19, you should:

  • Wash your hands often and well
  • Avoid touching your face, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Stay at home as much as possible, and practice physical distancing when you do leave home: keep at least 6 feet from others when going out for groceries, medical trips and other essential needs
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched
  • Stay at home and away from others if you are feeling ill
  • Contact your primary health provider or Health Link 811 if you have questions or concerns about your health
  • When sick, cover your cough and sneezes and then wash your hands

Wearing Masks

If you choose to wear a non-medical mask or face covering:

  • Ensure your mask is well-fitted and does not gape at the sides.
  • Be aware that masks can become contaminated on the outside. Avoid moving or adjusting the mask. Assume the mask has been contaminated and take proper precautions.
  • Critically, if you wear a mask, you must wash your hands before putting it on, as well as before and after taking it off.
  • Cloth masks should be worn only a short time, as there is some evidence that they can trap virus particles after they become damp, which may put the wearer at greater risk.
  • For those choosing to wear non-medical masks, it may be prudent to carry a bag with several clean masks in it, as well as a plastic bag that can be used to safely store used masks until they can be washed at home.
  • It is critical that used masks be carefully handled to avoid spreading infection to others.

See appropriate infection prevention and control precautions for health-care settings

Where can I find Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?

The Alberta Government announced that they will be posting distributors for PPE on the Alberta Biz Connect website.

How can I stay informed?

Please continue to visit the Government of Canada website, Alberta Government website and Alberta Health Services website.  Also check your inbox for any updates from CRMTA.

Government of Canada

Alberta Government

Alberta Health Services

Alberta Biz Connect

What can I do to manage my mental and physical health during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides detailed ways on how to manage stress during these uncertain times.

Alberta Health Services offers Text4hope

Which is a free service providing three months of daily Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)–based text messages written by mental health therapists.

An Alberta-based innovation, Text4Hope is an evidence-based tool that helps people identify and adjust the negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors a pandemic might be expected to provoke.

Through a set of daily messages, people receive advice and encouragement helpful in developing healthy personal coping skills and resiliency.

What Financial assistance is available to me?

The Government of Canada has introduced many financial supports.  For individuals, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), Canada Student Loans Program (CSLP) are among the supports for individuals.  Please visit here for more information on supports the Government of Canada is offering.

COVID19 Member Update Regarding Relaunch for Massage Therapists

We wanted to update our members on the steps CRMTA is recommending for the relaunch plan for Massage Therapists. We continue to closely follow and stay in contact with the Alberta Government and Alberta Health Services, at this time, all non-essential businesses have been placed in Stage 2 of the provincial relaunch plan, this includes Massage Therapy.  At this time, we have been informed that the Stage 2 provincial relaunch plan may occur around June 19th.

Consideration:

Therapists will need to consider changes that will be required to begin practicing again. CRMTA has not yet released its “return to practice guidelines” as we are still awaiting confirmed guidance from the Alberta Government and Alberta Health Services in relation to specific details at this time. CRMTA does not want to cause any undue expenses to our members by releasing unconfirmed requirements.

The Alberta Government has released a document (CMOH Order 16-2020) detailing guidelines for Workplace and Community Health Care Settings.  These guidelines/rules are for all non-essential healthcare workers returning to practice “All staff providing direct client/patient care or working in client/patient care areas must wear a surgical/procedure mask continuously, at all times and in all areas of the workplace if they are either involved in direct client/patient contact or cannot maintain adequate physical distancing (2 meters) from client/patient and co-workers.”

In light of COVID-19 the CRMTA has had many of our members inquiring about PPE equipment and requirements.  CMOH Order 16-220 document and Alberta Government updates we have been following, the only measures for non-essential healthcare workers at this time is:

  • only treating when COVID-19 is not suspected. 
  • reference to specific mask usage
  • cleaning protocols.
  • Until we receive further specifics CRMTA is not advising any other PPE equipment at this time until directed by the Alberta Government and Alberta Health Services.
     
  • CRMTA understands that these are uncertain times, and this can cause stress and concerns around re-opening and what massage therapists will require to prepare for the re-opening. 

Currently CRMTA recommends:

  • Assess your treatment and clinic space and plan how you can best allow for 2-meter physical distancing whenever possible.  This includes your reception and waiting areas.
  • Plan how you will include the COVID-19 screening into your practice. 
  • Will this be done with time allotment into the appointment or by email with clients upon booking.  This intake will be a very necessary step for all bookings. 
    • Implement screening measures and intake protocols.
  • We advise therapists to use this time off to set up online booking options to limit contact at reception areas.
  • This is also a good time to sign up for direct billing if you have not already done so.  Direct billing reduces the contact associated to payment.
  • If you are not going to provide online bookings or payments. This is when you will then need to assess how best to ensure safety of yourself and clients during the change over time between clients in common areas and in your treatment space.
  • Create a cleaning and sanitization routine that will accommodate your practice.
  • Create a list of areas that are at direct risk of contact of COVID-19 that will need routine cleaning and disinfecting.  This is specific to all common areas and areas within the treatment space that will have the highest level of touch.
  • Create a schedule for your practice that will accommodate the following:
  • Cleaning and sanitization between clients.
    • Ensure to allow time to maintain social distancing between your clients in common areas. 
    • Allow time for clients to change, pay and leave before the next appointment is to arrive to provide the least amount of people in direct contact and any given time. 
  • Ensure you have proper hygiene supplies, including hand soap, hand sanitizer, towels, linens, masks, and cleaning products.  Reference the government sites for specifics as needed
  • We recommend caution on all soft surfaces that are at risk of contact for COVID-19. Be aware of items such as those listed below.
  • Pillows. Have a vinyl pillowcase cover.
    • Covers on face cradles, disposable or vinyl for cleaning. 
    • Ensure table does not have soft covers such as warmers unless they are also covered by a vinyl barrier. 

CRMTA understands many of our members have concerns regarding re-opening in Stage 2 of the provincial re-launch.  This brings questions on how to prepare.  CRMTA would like to advise that these are preliminary recommendations on areas that are important at this time. 

CRMTA wants to thank all its members for your patience and understanding during this time.

Please visit Alberta Health Services Biz Connect, the site we recommend you use to assist you in your preparations.