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COLLEGE OF MASSAGE THERAPISTS  OF ONTARIO (CMTO) COMPLAINTS

Massage therapists, like many professionals in Canada, must be adequately educated, licensed and regulated by the province in which they practice. Each province regulates their professionals in their own way.Each province in Canada is responsible for regulating the massage therapists practicing in their province. The College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO) is the organization responsible for regulating the practice of massage therapy in Ontario. The goal of the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario is to ensure all massage therapists are held to the highest standards of integrity, professionalism and knowledge in order to protect their clients and the public. The Firm defends Massage Therapists facing allegations of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation against their patients which are often vigorously prosecuted by the CMTO, these allegations sometimes also involve simultaneous criminal charges.

The College of Massage Therapists of Ontario is responsible for enforcing the Massage Therapists Act 1991, which is discussed in more detail below. They ensure that massage therapists have received the proper education from an accredited institution prior to beginning practice as therapist and that practicing massage therapists keep up to date with any necessary on-going education and abide by all of the regulations laid out in the Massage Therapists Act 1991. The main goal is to protect the public from professional misconduct. As such, the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario also accepts formal complaints regarding licensed massage therapists and investigates as necessary. If professional misconduct or unethical behaviour is discovered, the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario will also be the regulating body responsible for punishing the offending individual.

As mentioned briefly in the section above, the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario are regulated by the Massage Therapists Act 1991. This statute outlines all of the rules and regulations surrounding the practice of massage therapy in Ontario. It dictates the qualifications that must be met before an individual can become a massage therapist in Ontario, outlines the requirements for membership, the regulations surrounding what therapies massage therapists may carry out, and regulations surrounding the make-up of the Council of the College. The statute also outlines acts which are prohibited to individuals who are not registered massage therapists in Ontario, such as portraying one’s self to be a registered massage therapist when they are in fact not.

In addition, massage therapists must also abide by the Regulated Health Professionals Act (RHPA) and the Health Care Consent Act 1996, which both apply to all registered health professionals in Ontario. Due to the relatively brief nature of the Massage Therapists Act, many procedures for regulating massage therapists are taken directly from these two statutes. For example, the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario utilizes the processes and procedures for filing formal complaints against a member directly from the Regulated Health Professionals Act.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Complaint Process
What Happens when a Complaint is Filed?
Can the Decision of the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee be Appealed?
What Happens if the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario Committee Discovers Professional Misconduct or Incompetence?
How to Defend a Formal Complaint made to the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario?

The Complaint Process

As with many professions, failure to abide by the rules set out in the Massage Therapists Act 1991, the Regulated Health Professionals Act 1991 or the Health Care Consent Act 1996 could result in a finding of professional misconduct. Most commonly, this type of conduct will come to the attention of the College through a complaint that has been filed by a member of the public. Almost any member of the public can file a formal complaint against a massage therapist. Formal complaints filed with the College must be received either in writing, or as a recording on an audio or video tape. The complaint must include the full name of the massage therapist as well as the date and location of the alleged incident being reported and any other details that may be relevant to the complaint. To file a formal complaint, individuals can fill out an online form, downloadable from the College’s website.

What Happens when a Complaint is Filed?

Once the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario has received a properly documented complaint, assuming it appears to have some merit, they will begin their investigation into the matter. The College of Massage Therapists of Ontario will send an acknowledgement in writing to the complainant. This notice confirms that a formal investigation has been opened into the matter. The College must then send a copy of the complaint to the impugned massage therapist within fourteen days of receiving it. The massage therapist will then have thirty days to provide a written reply to the complaint. The massage therapist’s response will then be forwarded by the College to the complainant, who will then have the opportunity to comment further after reviewing the response. Once the College has gathered all relevant information, the complaint will be reviewed by the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee, which is made up of professional members of the College as well as members of the public and members of the College Council.

In situations where the complaint is more complex, or where more information is required, the Committee may appoint an investigator to gather and analyze information and prepare a detailed report of their findings for the Committee to review. The investigator will then carry out a more thorough investigation which may include visiting the scene of the alleged incident, tracking down and interviewing potential witnesses or anyone else who may have relevant information. Once the investigator has completed their investigation, they will prepare a report for the Committee to review. The Committee is required to make a decision on the matter based on the outcome of the investigation within 150 days of receiving the complaint. It is important to note that the Committee may only determine whether or not the massage therapist completely and professionally rendered services. The Committee may not make determinations on damages, assess injury, order a massage therapist to refund a client, or order a massage therapist to pay damages to a complainant.

In reaching its decision, the Committee may choose to do one or more of the following; refer the massage therapist to another panel of the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee for further action against the member if there is evidence of reduced physical or mental capacity, refer the massage therapist to the Discipline Committee where there is evidence to show that professional misconduct has occurred or where the massage therapist is incompetent, require the massage therapist to be cautioned by the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee, require the massage therapist to complete further education training or choose to take no further action against the therapist and close the file. Regardless of the outcome of the investigation and subsequent decision, both the complainant and the registered massage therapist will receive a written copy of the Committee’s decision.

Can the Decision of the Inquiries, Complaints and Reports Committee be Appealed?

Yes. Generally, both the complainant and the registered massage therapist have the right to appeal the Committee’s decision within thirty days. It should be noted that a decision to refer a file to the Discipline Committee or to another Committee for further review due to incapacity issues cannot be appealed. All appeals are reviewed by the Health Professionals Appeal and Review Board which is comprised of members of the public appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Minister of Health.

What Happens if the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario Committee Discovers Professional Misconduct or Incompetence?

Upon finding issues of incompetence or professional misconduct, the Inquiries, Complaints and Records Committee may refer the matter to the Discipline Committee to discipline the offending member. If a file is referred to the Discipline Committee, a full legal hearing will take place. Registered massage therapists are encouraged to obtain qualified legal counsel for the duration of these proceedings, as they can have serious implications on the members ability to practice massage therapy in the future. Discipline Committee hearings operate in much the same way as a civil trial. Evidence may be presented by both sides and the panel will determine at the end of the proceeding whether or not the massage therapist is incompetent or guilty of misconduct based on the evidence presented. In situations where the Committee determines that the massage therapist is incompetent or has committed professional misconduct, they may order the Registrar to impose conditions on the therapist’s licence to practice, suspend their licence or in the most serious cases, revoke their licence altogether.

How to Defend a Formal Complaint made to the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario?

As with any legal matter, the best defence will always depend in large part on the allegations being made and the facts surrounding the particular case. It is important to contact experienced legal counsel immediately upon receiving notice that a formal complaint has been filed and prior to drafting the written response to the complaint. In some cases, the allegations against the registered massage therapist will be unfounded or will not amount to professional misconduct or incompetence. In these situations, the therapist may simply deny the allegations and state that they have not violated any of the rules or regulations surrounding the proper practice of massage therapy in Ontario. In more serious situations however, the member will be required to come up with a more substantive defence. Generally, the best defence is to prove to the Committee that the massage therapist satisfactorily complied with all of the applicable rules and regulations as outlined by the applicable legislation. It is important to contact qualified legal counsel as soon as possible to ensure the complaint is answered completely and correctly, as the consequences of a finding of professional misconduct or incompetence could lead to very serious negative implications.

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