Updated March 24, 2020
On Thursday, March 19, 2020, the Province of New Brunswick declared a State of Emergency in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19. Since that time, CMTNB has been in contact with provincial authorities and has consulted internally to ensure the proper interpretation and application of the Province’s Emergency Order.
This update is to confirm to all members that, in accordance with the Province’s Emergency Order, RMTs are not permitted to provide massage therapy services until further notice.
Paragraph 5 of the Emergency Order states: All regulated health services providers will cease operations unless the services to be provided are to address essential health care or an emergency health-care situation.
On Friday, March 20, the Province issued a clarification to its Emergency Order, which clarified that "Regulated Health Service Providers" as referred to in paragraph 5 of the Order are defined as: "cardiology technologists, chiropractors, dental hygienists, dental technicians, dentists, denturists, dieticians, licenced counselling therapists, licenced practical nurses, massage therapists, medical laboratory technicians, medical radiation technicians, midwives, nurses and nurse practitioners, occupational therapists, opticians, optometrists, paramedics, physicians and surgeons, physician assistants, physiotherapists, podiatrists, psychologists, respiratory therapists, social workers, speech language pathologists and audiologists."
The exception in paragraph 5 of the Emergency Order to allow for "essential health care or emergency health-care" is intended to give doctors, nurses, and other frontline healthcare practitioners, in the fight against COVID-19, the ability to continue treating. The intention of the Order is not to have RMTs continue providing massage therapy services, but to limit all in-person interactions in order to slow the spread of the virus. This interpretation has been confirmed by CMTNB’s liaison in the Department of Health.
Massage Therapy is not an "essential or emergency health-care" service, in the context of this pandemic. While massage therapy has numerous health benefits, massage therapy treatments do not reduce the load on emergency rooms or address immediate health-related emergencies, and accordingly do not fall within the “essential or emergency health-care” services exception under paragraph 5 of the Emergency Order.
Any RMT treating at this point in time is at high risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19 to patients regardless of the sanitation procedures and precautions they take, due to the prolonged close contact required. This results in the increased risk of unnecessarily spreading the virus among the population. One RMT can spread COVID-19 to many other people before showing symptoms. Those people may be at risk or in close contact with at risk populations. Those people can spread the virus unknowingly to others while asymptomatic. The risks of continuing to practice at this time can be severe and wide-reaching.
Therefore, it is the CMTNB's position that all RMTs must cease practice immediately and until further notice in order to comply with the Emergency Order.
The CMTNB is responsible for enforcing the Emergency Order as it relates to RMTs. Should the CMTNB become aware that any members continue to practice in contravention of the Emergency Order, it will report those members to the department of health, who may face fines and other penalties under the Emergency Measures Act.
Additionally, it is the opinion of the Board of Directors of the CMTNB that any members who continue to practice in contravention of the Emergency Order will be committing professional misconduct as defined in s.31 of the Massage Therapy Act. Any member who continues to practice during the term of the Emergency Order may be subject to prosecution by the CMTNB for professional misconduct.
We thank all RMTs for their understanding and patience during this difficult time. We continue to work closely with provincial authorities to receive regular updates to the current situation, and will notify the membership as circumstances change.