Two CMTA Requests 1) Affiliate membership 2) Clearly Define Benefits

Dear Canadian Massage Therapist Alliance (CMTA) Representatives,

I am writing as an RMT in a non-participating province (Ontario) who wishes to partake in the benefits a national RMT organization can offer.  Specifically, I’m writing with two requests for the CMTA to consider:

I) That an affiliate membership be created for practitioners of non-participating provinces to benefit from CMTA membership

2) That CMTA membership benefits be tangibly and clearly defined

First, affiliate membership.  The Registered Massage Therapist Association of Ontario (RMTAO) states it is unwilling to be involved in the CMTA due to human resource and financial considerations.

The RMTAO maintains it can unilaterally contribute to RMT concerns at a national level, despite its stated financial and human resource limitations.  I’ve suggested to the board that RMTAO resources can be used most efficiently in collaborating with other provinces towards a national strategy.  It is regrettable that, despite numerous invitations by the CMTA to collaborate, the RMTAO has repeatedly declined.

Perhaps a CMTA affiliate membership can be created to accommodate practitioners who support the work of the CMTA but cannot access benefits from their provincial association.  Although some CMTA benefits may not be possible to service non-participating provinces, other benefits could easily be transferred to affiliate membership.  However, I believe these benefits could be more clearly defined to appear tangible to those interested in affiliate membership.

Second, I request CMTA benefits be broadened and more clearly stated.  The Canadian Massage Therapist Alliance (CMTA) serves 7 member provinces – British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland/Labrador and Prince Edward Island – and the North West Territories.  The CMTA’s stated objectives are: i) preserving and improving insurer relations ii) supporting regulation in all provinces and iii) encouraging research initiatives.

I suggest there is an opportunity to more clearly define tangible membership benefits in the alliance, some of which would be completely transferable to practitioners in both members and non-member provinces.  As well, there is a need to differentiate CMTA benefits from provincial association benefits so that associations do not feel threatened by perceived competing CMTA interests.

I recommend the following four roles of the CMTA:

1) CAMPAIGN – advocacy of MT interests and building relations with insurers, gatekeeper HCPs, government and the public/media are important considerations both locally to practitioner practice and nationally in shaping favourable policy and relationships.  Associations often attempt to manage these provincially, but the CMTA could coordinate the design of media campaigns to share with all provinces and territories, eliminating duplication and waste while presenting a united and consistent national message.

2) CHRONICLE – Practitioners are interested in news that affects them and their counter-parts in other provinces/territories.  The CMTA could present “Big picture” views with an exclusive monthly newsletter, ongoing blog and perhaps telecast reporting advocacy campaign results, trends in the profession, RMT demographics, and developments in regulation, research and education.

Perhaps there’s an opportunity to partner with Massage Therapy Canada magazine to provide national news with a customized regional feature.

3) COORDINATE – To build credibility with government, insurers, gatekeeper HCPs and the public/media, practitioners require treatment guidelines (eventually supported by evidence-based practice), trained spokespeople regionally for advocacy relations, and other projects best coordinated by a national alliance.  Associations can put forward thought-leaders and strong candidates for working groups to finally address these essential projects.

Further, working groups already exist with FOMTRAC re: accreditation and IN CAM re: research, so rather than duplicating efforts the CMTA can involve itself in encouraging the growth and development of these agencies and benefit from their produce.

4) COMMUNITY – practitioners often work in privacy with patients/clients and opportunities for sharing experiences and debating key issues with colleagues unfortunately presents infrequently.  The result is a stagnating of the profession, inhibiting evolution and innovation.   The CMTA can offer virtual symposiums – coordinated with localized, in- person gatherings with live-streaming – on critical issues (example TED.COM).  This shifts the top-down hierarchical approach to putting the issues directly to the front-line practitioners who experience them daily.

I suggest these roles are supportive, and differentiated from the role of the provincial professional associations.  The provincial associations can provide six essential services:

1) POLL members re: income, workload versus work capacity, delivery of care model, rural or urban, age, years in practice, affiliations, education, etc. so the profession can understand its needs and challenges better.  Technology can be used to collect information, collate data and communicate findings and trends valuable to existing practitioners and all industry stakeholders.  This information can be shared with the other provinces via the CMTA.

2) PUBLIC & MEDIA relations – the CMTA can help coordinate key messages, but provincial associations are most effective in disseminating at their level.  Each province can have trained P/M & R people to respond to negative press while punctuating key tenets of the profession.

3) PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT – provincial associations can hold workshops on professional issues and provide opportunities for members to gather.

4) POLITICAL advocacy – the CMTA can provide national representation re: government, insurance industry and gatekeeper HCPs, but really need the ongoing legwork and resources best applied by the provincial associations.

5) PARTNER – as indicated by the CMTA, RMT provincial associations benefit from collaboration on a number of national – and even international – issues.  There is also opportunity at the provincial level to partner with like-minded groups eg: chiropractors, naturopathic practitioners, TCM/acupuncture practitioners, physio- and occupational therapists, fitness/wellness experts, towards common objectives

6) PREFERRED PRICING – provincial associations can take advantage of volume pricing on behalf of their members for products/services of interest such as various forms of insurance, technology, publications, legal and business services.

To create a more responsive national alliance, the CMTA requires funding and operational management.  While I understand availability of resources is always a concern, I suggest with clear, tangible benefits of CMTA membership defined, we can start to look at viable ways of financing the projects.

For example, crowd-funding for specific objectives may be an answer…drawing resources from many varied stakeholders and interested parties to see an objective through, rather than always relying on the finite resources of provincial associations.

I am happy to address any of these questions and suggestions with representatives of the CMTA.  Thank you kindly for your time and consideration in reviewing my requests.

Warmest regards,

Don Dillon, RMT

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