College of Massage Therapists of New Brunswick

COVID-19 Updates

March 24, 2020

March 24, 2020

Updated March 24, 2020

CMTNB Members,

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.  

March 20, 2020

March 20, 2020

Updated March 20, 2020

CMTNB Members,

The Department of Health and the Office of the Premier held a press conference on Thursday March 19, 2020 at which time a provincial state of emergency was declared in response to COVID-19.

The directive from the provincial government 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”

Massage Therapy is not considered an essential health care service, therefore as directed by the provincial government, Registered Massage Therapists in NB will cease operations until the state of emergency has been lifted. 

Please refer to the News Release below.

News Release

Office of the Premier

REVISED / State of emergency declared in response to COVID-19
19 March 2020

FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government today declared a state of emergency under section 12 of the Emergency Measures Act to enhance measures to help contain the spread of COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus).

“The health and well-being of every New Brunswicker must remain our number one priority,” said Premier Blaine Higgs. “With the support of the of the chief medical officer of health, and with the support of the all-party cabinet committee, we are taking this extraordinary measure to provide greater assistance to the health-care sector fighting the spread of COVID-19 in the province.”

As a result of this declaration:

  • All food and beverage businesses will be reduced to take-out and delivery service only
  • All lounges and special facilities licensed under the Liquor Control Act will stop admitting patrons.
  • All swimming pools, spas, saunas, waterparks, gymnasiums, yoga studios, dance studios, rinks and arenas, tennis courts, soccer and baseball fields, climbing walls, escape rooms, ski hills, golf courses, arcades, amusement centres, pool halls, bowling alleys, casinos, cinemas, libraries, museums, zoos, aquariums, barbers, hair stylists, esthetics service providers, sugar bush operations, and theatres or other live performance venues will stop admitting members of the public.
  • Schools, colleges, universities and private schools must be closed to students. Institutions which have students in residence are permitted to allow them to remain in residence until they can safely return home. Online course delivery may continue.

The premier reiterated that construction activities continue and that they are not prohibited under this declaration.

Other measures under the declaration of state of emergency include:

  • All businesses in retail sales will stop admitting patrons, except: grocery stores; pharmacies; repair garages; post offices; financial and lending institutions; retailers of fuel, hardware and automotive parts; convenience stores; animal and fish feed providers; and corporate and agency stores of NB Liquor and Cannabis NB. All businesses required to stop admitting patrons are permitted to sell online or over the phone and to arrange delivery or pick-up of purchases
  • Every person directed by a physician to self-isolate will obey.
  • Every person who has been outside Canada will self-isolate within their home for 14 days after their return to Canada, and, if they experience symptoms of COVID-19 during that period, will remain self-isolated until they are free of symptoms. This requirement does not apply to people exempted by the chief medical officer of health.
  • Owners and operators of all other premises at which people may gather in large numbers will take all reasonable steps to prevent gatherings of more than 10 people.
  • 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.
  • All unregulated health services providers, with the exception of those that are providing direct support to regulated health services providers, shall cease operations immediately.
  • Owners and managers of all workplaces and organizers of all activities will take every reasonable step to ensure minimal interaction of people within 2 metres of each other and carry out advice to minimize risk as issued by the chief medical officer of health.
  • All owners and managers of all workplaces will reduce to critical functions and will take every reasonable step required to prevent people who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 from entering the workplace, in accordance with advice issued by the chief medical officer of health or Worksafe New Brunswick. They will also take every reasonable step required to prevent people from entering workplaces who have travelled internationally in the previous 14 days.
  • All licences, registrations, certificates and permits issued by the Province of New Brunswick valid as of March 16, 2020, shall remain valid until May 31, 2020 unless suspended by a court or by other authority under an Act of the Province.
  • The right of landlords under section 19 of the Residential Tenancies Act to require tenants to vacate for non-payment of rent, and the authority of residential tenancies officers under section 22 of that act to evict tenants for the same reason, are suspended, until May 31, 2020.

The declaration is available online.

“This declaration provides us with the tools we need to ensure the safety of New Brunswickers. This is not a decision we took lightly,” said Higgs. “We are confident that these measures will result in New Brunswickers taking the necessary actions.”

No new presumptive cases of COVID-19 were reported in the province today. There are still 11 cases in New Brunswick: seven confirmed; and four presumptive.

“Although we have no new cases today, we know there will be more cases of COVID-19,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health.

Bruce Macfarlane, communications, Department of Health, 506-476-1376.

March 18, 2020

March 18, 2020

March 18, 2020

During this time of extreme challenge to New Brunswickers and our healthcare system, the College of Massage Therapists of New Brunswick (CMTNB) acknowledges how stressful the COVID-19 pandemic has been for healthcare professionals, and we thank you for the important work you do to contribute to the health of New Brunswickers.

With recent developments on the pandemic and in accordance with our mandate to protect the public, CMTNB is currently reviewing questions being received from New Brunswick’s Massage Therapists (“RMTs”) and assessing how best to protect the public. CMTNB will continue to monitor the current environment, but has the following recommendations for RMTs at this time.

Public safety is our number one concern. This is a complex question that calls for the application for public health principles to the practice of massage therapy. Also, CMTNB as a regulator does not have the legal authority to order RMTs to cease practice. CMTNB’s approach is that it will both relay and follow the guidance provided by NB’s Provincial Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Jennifer Russell. The College is in touch with the Department of Health and is waiting for further guidance on how our profession should proceed.

Multiple provinces have declared a state of public health emergency, it is time that New Brunswickers take action to protect our community before COVID 19 spreads and overloads our healthcare system. This is a very serious concern.

All government directives to date have stressed the importance of social distancing, and closing non-essential services. For this reason, and with a great deal of discussion and debate, the College board has come to the decision that it is the CMTNB’s recommendation that all RMT’s follow the two meter guidelines and close their practice until otherwise directed by Public Health that it is safe to return to practice.

The Government is working on measures to reduce the financial burden for those who are concerned about the financial impact this will cause.

CMTNB believes this is an important step in protecting the health of New Brunswickers, and aligns with social distancing recommendations made by the Government of New Brunswick and Government of Canada.

It is extremely important that any RMTs who are treating patients implement the following practices to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

  • Undertake active and passive screening of clients – screen clients over the phone before scheduling appoints and post signage GNB Coronavirus Resources in your reception area asking clients with symptoms to identify themselves. Please note: that this is not a guarantee you will not be exposed, or will not put others at risk of being exposed. Once community spread is found, this measure will no longer be effective.
  • Practice rigorous infection prevention practice (resources below).
  • Self-isolate for 14 days if you have recently traveled, or if you have been exposed to someone who has recently travelled to an area with active cases.
  • Stay home if you are experiencing any symptoms. Please note: COVID 19 is infectious up to 14 days prior to experiencing symptoms. Any individuals you treated prior to showing symptoms will have to be informed that they have been potentially exposed and should self-isolate.

The situation is evolving rapidly and CMTNB will reach out to RMTs if the advice from government changes.

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.

CMTNB will continue to provide services to the public and to registrants.

Thank you once again for your continued commitment to helping CMTNB ensure public safety.

March 17, 2020

March 17, 2020

To/Dest. : Allied health professionals / Professionnels paramédicaux

From/Exp. : Dr. / Dre Jennifer Russell, Chief Medical Officer of Health / Médecin-hygiéniste en chef

Subject/Objet : COVID-19 Information / Information sur la COVID-19

The COVID-19 situation continues to be highly dynamic and is changing daily. Public health actions are evolving as the situation is assessed with the information available.

Guidance is based on current knowledge of the virus and other viral respiratory infections. For current information, please follow the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health (OCMOH) webpage for Health and Allied Health Professionals. Updated general information is also being provided on the webpage in the Frequently Asked Questions section. In addition, the Public Health Agency of Canada provides information on their website: What Health Professionals Need to Know.

The Department of Health is asking that you share this information with your networks.

Sincerely,

Dr. / Dre Jennifer Russell, BA, BSc, MD, CCFP
Chief Medical Officer of Health / Médecin-hygiéniste en chef

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