Important Information for Massage Therapists who provide Acupuncture within the Scope of Practice of Massage Therapy

On April 1, 2013, the Traditional Chinese Medicine Act was proclaimed into law in Ontario. Current practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture in Ontario must apply for registration with the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncturists of Ontario (CTCMPAO), and become accountable to CTCMPAO. CTCMPAO will oversee and regulate the profession to ensure the public receives safe, high quality Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture services.

RMTs practicing acupuncture as a modality within the scope of practice of Massage Therapy are not directly affected by this change.  To further clarify what the acupuncture competencies are for Massage Therapists, please review the CMTO Acupuncture Practice Competencies and Performance Indicators adopted by Council in February 2013.

You may also wish to review Additional Technique Standard 2: Perform an Acupuncture Treatment.

While acupuncture techniques may be performed within the scope of practice of massage therapy, it is advisable that RMTs providing acupuncture techniques obtain additional professional liability insurance. Please contact your insurer for more information.

Some Massage Therapists may wish to remain a member of CMTO, but join the CTCMPAO as well. CMTO wishes to emphasize that if an RMT plans to continue to provide acupuncture as a Massage Therapist, acupuncture techniques can ONLY be provided within the Massage Therapy scope of practice.  CMTO has a policy regarding dual registration, which provides additional guidance for those RMTs seeking to become members of both Colleges. To review the policy, please go here.

Those members found to be practicing either Traditional Chinese Medicine or acupuncture techniques beyond the scope of practice of massage therapy, and/or using any of the CTCMPAO’s protected titles, risk being charged with holding themselves out as a member of CTCMPAO and/or unlawfully using the protected titles of CTCMPAO. The fine for being found guilty of such an offence is $25,000.

The protected titles and designations of CTCMPAO are:

“traditional Chinese medicine practitioner” and R. TCMP, and
“acupuncturist” and R. Ac

In addition, s. 12 of the Traditional Chinese Medicine Act states:

Subject to the approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, and with prior review by the Minister, the Council may make regulations,
(a) regulating or prohibiting the use of the title “doctor”, a variation or abbreviation or an equivalent in another language by members in respect of their practice;
(b) prescribing a class of certificates of registration for members who use the title “doctor” and imposing terms, conditions and limitations on certificates of registration of this class.

To read the Traditional Chinese Medicine Act, and associated regulations, please go to:

and follow these steps:

  1. Click on “Search or Browse Current Consolidated Law”;
  2. Click on “T” and locate the Traditional Chinese Medicine Act, 2006 in the list.
  3. To view regulations associated with the Act, please click on the “plus” sign next to the Act. There you will find the Registration Regulations, which explain the requirements for Registration with CTCMPAO.

For more detailed information on the application process for CTCMPAO, please go to the CTCMPAO website.

Later this summer, the Council of CMTO will commence discussions regarding the next steps for Massage Therapists who perform acupuncture. Now that the College has adopted acupuncture practice competencies and performance indicators, the acupuncture educational programmes will need to be reviewed in relation to these new competencies.

In addition, Council will discuss how best to enforce the standards it has set for acupuncture. It is possible that Massage Therapists who practice acupuncture may be required to demonstrate their entry to practice knowledge and skills of the acupuncture practice competencies in some way. In addition, Council will consider whether another class of Certificate of Registration will need to be created for those RMTs who provide acupuncture.

These steps are to ensure that the College knows which Massage Therapists provide acupuncture, whether they meet a minimum standard of competence, and whether they have completed an educational programme approved by the College. The Peer Assessment component of the Quality Assurance Programme will also be reviewed in future to determine what adjustments need to be made in order to permit assessment of acupuncture related activities.