COVID-19

The College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO) is monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic daily and we will be updating this page as information becomes available. We acknowledge this has been an unprecedented and challenging time for healthcare professionals and the healthcare system. The safety of the public, including Massage Therapists, is our top priority. CMTO thanks Ontario’s Massage Therapists (RMTs) for their commitment to protect the health and wellbeing of Ontarians.   

Premier’s Announcement – Closure of all Non-Essential Businesses

The Government of Ontario has ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses and services, as of 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday March 24, 2020. You can read the news release here. A list of essential businesses is available here. Please note, number 58 lists “health care professionals providing emergency care including dentists, optometrists and physiotherapists”, as essential businesses.

While we are aware that the vast majority of Massage Therapists (RMTs/MTs) have followed CMTO’s earlier guidance and suspended their practice, we are continuing to receive inquiries from some RMTs asking if they can practice.

CMTO’s position is that RMTs should not practice at this time. CMTO does not view the practice of Massage Therapy as emergency care.

Failure to comply with an order of the Premier is a provincial offence pursuant to section 7.0.11 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and is punishable by a fine of up to $100,000.  

The College expects RMTs to comply with all government and public health recommendations to slow the spread of COVID-19. RMTs work in very close contact with clients. As regulated health professionals, RMTs have an obligation to maintain practice premises in a safe and sanitary manner and to not put clients at risk. Using personal protective equipment (PPE) is imperative during a pandemic (gloves, masks), yet personal protective equipment is scarce during this pandemic and should be prioritized for front-line health professionals in hospitals and testing facilities. Failure of RMTs to meet obligations may constitute professional misconduct and would be contrary to the Premier’s and Chief Medical Officer of Health’s directives.

Practitioners also risk potential civil liability for any damages caused when contravening such a directive or any of the professional standards, such as where a client is unnecessarily exposed to COVID-19.

Circumstances will continue to change and CMTO’s position may evolve, especially as new guidance is provided by the Government of Ontario.

CMTO is receiving questions from RMTs and the public, and will continue to track and promptly respond to them.

FAQs For RMTs

Should Massage Therapists continue to provide treatment?

CMTO’s position is that RMTs should not practice at this time. CMTO does not view the practice of Massage Therapy as emergency care. Please review the full statement on emergency care above.

CMTO will update RMTs and the public as the situation changes.

Why hasn’t CMTO ordered all clinics to close?

CMTO’s mandate is to regulate Massage Therapists in the public interest. CMTO does not have the authority or ability to order the closure of all spaces where Massage Therapy treatment is offered (e.g. clinics). 

Healthcare professionals providing emergency care including dentists, optometrists and physiotherapists are listed as essential businesses. Are Massage Therapists included in this list? Can I continue to provide Massage Therapy treatment?

Massage Therapy treatment, while an important part of one’s overall health, is not considered emergency healthcare treatment. CMTO’s position is that RMTs should not practise at this time. CMTO does not view the practice of Massage Therapy as emergency care.

CMTO expects RMTs to comply with all government and public health recommendations to slow the spread of COVID-19. Circumstances will continue to change and CMTO’s position may evolve, especially as new guidance is provided by the Government of Ontario.

I have been asked by my employer (a hospital) or by the Government of Ontario to provide support to front line healthcare professionals. Is that ok?

CMTO’s position is that RMTs cannot provide treatment at this time. Only a hospital or the provincial government (e.g. Heathforce Ontario/Ministry of Health) would be in a position to assure an RMT, if needed, that practising to provide support to front line healthcare workers can be deemed emergency medical treatment at this time and would not violate the Premier’s order to close non-essential businesses.

Are RMTs who work in other practice settings (e.g. clinics, long-term care facilities, retirement homes, addiction treatment centres, etc.) able to practise Massage Therapy?

CMTO does not view the practice of Massage Therapy as emergency care. CMTO’s position is that RMTs should not practise at this time.

Failure to comply with an order of the Premier is a provincial offence pursuant to section 7.0.11 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and is punishable by a fine of up to $100,000. Practitioners also risk potential civil liability for any damages caused when contravening such a directive or any of the professional standards, such as where a client is unnecessarily exposed to COVID-19.

The College expects RMTs to comply with all government and public health recommendations to slow the spread of COVID-19.

What should I do if an employer / facility operator is pressuring me to continue to provide Massage Therapy?

RMTs are expected to follow the recommendations to temporarily stop practising Massage Therapy in all practice settings. If an employer or facility operator attempts to encourage an RMT to continue to practise, the RMT should contact the RMTAO for more information about employment rights and contract negotiation issues.

What should I do if a client expresses that they wish to continue with treatment despite these orders, because they view their care as emergency or essential?

Some clients may be upset or worried that they cannot access Massage Therapy treatment at this time. We know many clients rely on Massage Therapy for their physical and mental health and wellbeing. However, the Chief Medical Officer for Ontario has indicated that the risks of transmission for COVID-19 are significant and that in order to reduce those risks, Ontarians are to engage in social distancing. The practice of social distancing includes limiting healthcare treatment to the treatment of emergencies only (at this time).  The College encourages RMTs to explain that the risks of contracting or being exposed to COVID-19 are high and that Massage Therapy care should be postponed until those risks decline.

What should I do if I believe an RMT is putting the public at risk?

Please forward concerns about RMTs who are practicing contrary to the Government of Ontario and CMTO’s directives to professionalconduct@cmto.com

Can Massage Therapists provide treatment through telepractice* during the pandemic?

*telepractice is the use of telecommunications technology to provide Massage Therapy.

Offering Massage Therapy through a remote platform has a number of complexities that will need to be considered and should only be used in very few and unique situations. The RMT will need to consider the scope of practice of Massage Therapy in Ontario:

“The practice of Massage Therapy is the assessment of the soft tissue and joints of the body and the treatment and prevention of physical dysfunction and pain of the soft tissues and joints by manipulation to develop, maintain, rehabilitate or augment physical function, or relieve pain”.

The RMT must determine whether the Massage Therapy they are considering delivering through telepractice is within the scope of practice. There are very few situations where telepractice would fall within the scope of practice of Massage Therapy. Some examples of these rare situations may include:

  • When an RMT must provide guidance for client self-care; or
  • When an RMT would like to complete an intake process for a new client who will be receiving treatment when the RMT returns to practice (e.g. the RMT might receive health history information electronically and conduct an intake interview virtually). 

If it is within the scope of practice, the RMT must be transparent in all documentation, including billing invoices, that the services were provided remotely and that, for example, only a partial assessment was performed (i.e. it does not constitute a full session of Massage Therapy and cannot be billed as such).  RMTs must advise their clients that telepractice may not be covered by their insurance provider as Massage Therapy.

Prior to using any platform, the RMT must ensure the platform is confidential and secure and meets the requirements of the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2014; and the RMT must obtain the consent required under the Health Care Consent Act, 1996 and CMTO’s written consent requirements for treating (or viewing) sensitive areas (if applicable). In addition, all applicable legislative and CMTO requirements would still need to be adhered to, such as maintaining client health records.

Should I close my Massage Therapy practice?

CMTO expects that RMTs temporarily suspend their practice in accordance with CMTO recommendations and the Government of Ontario ordered closure of all non-essential businesses and services.

CMTO will provide additional information as it becomes available.

What about my income? What financial relief is available to me?

CMTO suggests RMTs continue to follow the ongoing updates from the provincial and federal government regarding support for individuals and businesses financially impacted by the pandemic. At the time of publishing these FAQs, information about economic relief is available at the following links:

The Registered Massage Therapists’ Association of Ontario (RMTAO) is also providing updates for RMTs on economic relief.

COVID-19 Resources

We encourage RMTs to access the following websites for the most current information and guidance:

RMTs are required to follow infection prevention practices at all times, in all practice settings.

Resources for infection prevention and control:

For questions about this information, please contact CMTO’s Practice Specialist at practicespecialist@cmto.com or by phone at (416) 489-2626/1-800-465-1933 extension 4124. 

Call for Spare Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) has put a call out for personal protective equipment (PPE) donations. 

If you currently have personal protective equipment such as surgical/procedure masks, N95 masks, gloves, gowns and eye protection that you are able to spare, please follow these instructions:

For Large Quantities and Access to Suppliers:

The Ontario government has set up a website where you can disclose the resources you have available.

For Smaller Quantities:

Please contact the OMA and Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) directly for smaller quantities. We are making this request in order help transfer resources locally to frontline healthcare providers. Please contact christine.poopalapillai@oma.org with the following information:

  • Name
  • Clinic Location (please include postal code)
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Supplies Available and Quantity

Ontario Ministry of Health – Healthcare Provider Recruitment

The Ministry of Health are looking for healthcare providers who are not currently working, working part-time and want to and are prepared to increase their work hours, or former healthcare providers who are retired, or on inactive status with their regulatory college; and are prepared to return to employment.

If you are interested, please complete the government’s online COVID-19 Health Care Provider Recruitment form.

Online recruitment form (English)

Online recruitment form (French)

For Students, Educators and Exam Candidates

Important Notice about the Certification Examinations

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the threat of community spread, the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO) has had to make some difficult decisions regarding the delivery of the Certification Examinations.

The Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) examination scheduled to take place in April, 2020 has been cancelled. The Objectively Structured Clinical Evaluation (OSCE) administrations scheduled to take place in May and June have also been cancelled.

As of now, we do not know when the first OSCE administration of 2020 will be offered. We are monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and all relevant government and public health recommendations. We will provide an update on the 2020 exam schedule as soon as we have more information to share. 

Please see the table below for a summary of exam cancellations so far:

Examination

Scheduled window

Decision

MCQ

April 1 – 30, 2020

Cancelled

MCQ

July 1- 31, 2020

TBD

MCQ

Sept 1 – 30, 2020

TBD

MCQ

Dec 1 – 20, 2020

TBD

OSCE

May 1 – 31, 2020

Cancelled

OSCE

June 1 – 30, 2020

Cancelled

OSCE

July 1 – 31, 2020

TBD

OSCE

Aug 1 – 31, 2020

TBD

OSCE

Sept 1 – 30, 2020

TBD

​OSCE

​Oct 1 – 31, 2020

TBD

​OSCE 

​Nov 1 – 30, 2020

TBD

OSCE

Dec 1 – 20, 2020

TBD

Thank you for your continued patience as we manage these changes. Please contact Certification Services at certificationservices@cmto.com if you have any questions.

CMTO Operations – Remote Office

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the threat of community spread, CMTO has been operating remotely as of March 17, 2020, until further notice.

CMTO expects to operate with few disruptions, none of which will affect our public protection mandate. The identified disruptions are as follows:  

  • There are no walk-in visits at CMTO. Please call us for information. 
  • Courier packages cannot be received at CMTO’s office.
  • Please use electronic mail whenever possible or use mail and registered mail, which will be received at an alternative location.