New Guidance for Registrants Following the Passage of Bill 87 and Request for Feedback on Draft CMTO Standards of Practice

Consultation on Proposed New Standards for Maintaining Professional Boundaries and Preventing Sexual Abuse

The Government of Ontario recently passed Bill 87, the Protecting Patients Act, 2017, with the goal of eradicating sexual abuse of clients across all regulated healthcare professions in Ontario, including Massage Therapy.

The new legislation implements measures that will further protect clients from sexual abuse and will affect the way registrants/Registered Massage Therapists (“RMTs” and “MTs”) practise Massage Therapy.

For example, there is now an expanded list of acts of sexual abuse that lead to mandatory revocation of a Massage Therapist’s Certificate of Registration (e.g. touching of a sexual nature of the client’s genitals, anus, breasts or buttocks). The legislation also authorizes immediate restrictions on or suspension of a registrant’s practice as soon as a complaint is received by the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee if that Committee is of the opinion that the registrant’s conduct exposes or is likely to expose their clients to harm or injury.  The complete list of amendments to the Act is available at http://www.ontla.on.ca/bills/bills-files/41_Parliament/Session2/b087rep_e.pdf.

In anticipation of the new measures, the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO) has drafted new Standards for Maintaining Professional Boundaries and Preventing Sexual Abuse to replace existing standards on the same topics. The Standards articulate the minimum acceptable performance by the Massage Therapy profession in Ontario, and act to protect the public through their application in the disciplinary processes of the College.

At its May meeting, CMTO’s Council approved the new Standards in principle. While the Standards have not yet received final approval, CMTO recommends that registrants practise in accordance with the draft Standard while the consultation takes place. Complying with the Standards now will ensure that registrants are in alignment with the Protecting Patients Act, 2017.

The new Standards clearly communicate expectations and requirements for: obtaining client consent for treatment of sensitive areas, appropriate treatment of friends and family members (excluding romantic/sexual partners/spouses – whom RMTs cannot treat); maintaining professional boundaries; as well as explaining post-termination relationships and mandatory reporting requirements of RMTs.

As the new Standards contain significant changes that will impact RMTs and Massage Therapy clients, CMTO is requesting your feedback on the proposed Standards. Please consider participating in this important consultation process. Your input will help inform the final Standards for Maintaining Professional Boundaries and Preventing Sexual Abuse. Rest assured that the survey results are kept confidential, that is, they will be reported in an aggregate form only and individual identifiers will not be made public.

Please provide your feedback through an on-line survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/cmtodraftstandards by 5:00 p.m. on July 7, 2017. Please also consider sharing this notice with other RMTs and any others (clients or members of the public) who you feel might be interested.  

Going forward, CMTO will continue to monitor the regulatory climate and work collaboratively with Ontario’s health regulators to ensure a smooth implementation of the new legislation. The College will also keep registrants informed of any important announcements pertaining to the Protecting Patients Act, 2017, and CMTO’s new Standards by email, TouchPoint newsletter and CMTO’s website: www.cmto.com.

If you have questions, please contact me by email marnie.lofsky@cmto.com or at 416.489.2626/1.800.465.933 ext. 115.

On behalf of the College, I thank you for taking the time to provide your feedback, and sharing this notice with others for input.