The RMTAO Annual General Meeting approaches and provides a once-a-year opportunity for members to present their compliments and concerns re: the effectiveness of the association in meeting RMT interests in Ontario.
The RMTAO record for meeting RMT interests in Ontario isn’t good. An Ends Policy – the desirable outcomes for the profession as identified by the board – was ratified in 2007 and revised in 2013. The 6 objectives are: the profession 1) has a clear and visible identity 2) has the highest professional standards 3) engages a culture of inquiry 4) is recognized by the public, health care professionals and other stakeholders as a valued health care option 5) engages in inter-professional collaboration to achieve best possible patient outcomes and 6) is prosperous and financially viable.
It doesn’t appear the RMTAO since 2007 has moved in any way towards these desired ends, and in fact, status for RMTs on a variety of important fronts has declined. The profession 1) is still maligned with an identity of prostitution, insurance fraud or fringe, unsupported-by-research wellness modality. 2) Standards are hard to maintain when the association, regulatory body and 49 training schools are not working collaboratively. 3) The “culture of inquiry” has been assisted by the CMTO’s mandate to include some instruction in research literacy in training college programs, but the association hasn’t had much involvement. And it’s been the CMTO that has contributed to supporting research grants in organizations such as the Interdisciplinary Network of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (IN-CAM). 4) Massage therapy is far from being recognized as health care – services are not covered by the provincial health plan, are subject to HST (chiropractors and physiotherapists are not), and has been excluded in initiatives such as the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care Low Back Pain Strategy. 5) The association only sparsely interacts with other stakeholders, and there’s little advancement in inter-professional collaboration on any of the key issues except perhaps Inter-jurisdictional Competencies http://www.cmto.com/2012/07/interjurisdictional-competencies-development-project-phase-2/
For the profession to be prosperous and financially viable 6), it must encourage an environment of innovation and opportunity while addressing its core problems – unviable, time-and-labour intensive work models, unsustainable inter-professional business agreements, poor credibility (due to fraud, fragmentation/disorganization and little evidence to support claims) with government, insurers/funders, gatekeeper health care practitioners and the public/media, and an inability to deal with exploiters that would profit from the lucrative popularity of massage therapy. The RMTAO has negated forming strategic partnerships with other provincial associations or established CAM professions like chiropractic that could jointly work towards these objectives.
Organizationally, in the past 5 years the association has been without an executive director (ED) for almost half that time, with two EDs lasting less than 2 years each. The board is made up of 15 volunteers but only three paid staff to carry out the work of the association. A ratio of 5 deliberators to 1 worker…too many chiefs, and not enough warriors!
Full disclosure – I did apply for the ED position when it was again vacated most recently. I have a plan for adding value to the association http://massagetherapistpractice.com/letter-to-rmtao/ and have served the association in the past as a board member, representative to auto insurance and WSIB talks, the Coalition of Health Professionals in Auto Insurance Reform. To date I have not received a request for an interview to discuss the position.
Perhaps this association is too broken to fix, and we need to return to the drawing board. Article 15 of the RMTAO’s Consolidated By-Laws supplies the provision for dissolution of the association. Maybe we need a fresh start, to wipe the slate clean, to move interests forward for RMTs in Ontario.
There are consequences – 3 staff positions will be collapsed and RMTs will need to source their insurance from another provider. However, to the question “But who will represent us?” I would counter with the question “Who is representing you now?”