MTAA Members can access additional member specific updates by logging into your MTAA Member Profile and select COVID-19/COVID-19 Updates to obtain more information.
MTAA COVID-19 Update
May 22, 2020
Another week has passed with our industry shuttered. Thankfully, the measures taken by the Alberta Government and the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) with respect to social distancing and the closure of non-essential businesses appear to be working. For each of the past two days, Alberta has reported less than 50 new cases of COVID-19 respectively, and the hospitalization and ICU numbers are continuing to drop. If this trend continues, we may be on track for Stage 2 of the re-launch plan previously indicated to happen around June 19th.
There are many things we need to consider when preparing to start practicing again. Although the MTAA has not yet released its “return to practice guidelines” (we are awaiting final approval from Alberta Health), there is no shortage of information available to start forming decisions on what you can do to protect yourself and your patients.
A document, directly from the CMOH: Record of Decision – CMOH Order 16-2020, specifically Appendix A - Workplace Guidance for Community Health Care Settings, lays out the framework for non-essential healthcare workers and the rules they must follow when returning to practice. The top four active measures listed in that document, in order, are:
With regards to PPE, it is important to note that the Alberta Government, specifically for non-essential healthcare workers who are treating patients that are NOT SUSPECTED to have COVID-19, the appropriate PPE is as follows:
All staff providing direct client/patient care or working in client/patient care areas must wear a surgical/procedure mask continuously, at all times and in all areas of the workplace if they are either involved in direct client/patient contact or cannot maintain adequate physical distancing (2 metres) from client/patient and co-workers.
This is the only form of PPE that is mentioned for healthcare providers who are providing care to screened healthy individuals. Alberta Health emphasizes in their document the need to conduct proper screening, cleaning, and hygiene as our primary lines of defence against COVID-19, not expensive PPE.
For those who are anxious about re-opening and want to start preparing, you may want to consider the following:
This list of ideas is by no means complete nor is it meant to be a substitute for an official “return to practice” guideline. However, I personally hate waiting and I believe these are some helpful ideas for the general things we will need to think about prior to re-opening.
The MTAA Board of Directors and MTAA Staff are continuing to consult with the government and healthcare regulatory bodies to ensure that our members will have all the information they require to return to practice in a safe, confident and timely manner. We sincerely appreciate your patience and the trust you have placed in the MTAA during this stressful time.
Additional resources for your information:
Appendix A: Workplace Guidance for Community Health Care Settings
Ontario - COVID-19 Patient Screening Guidance Document
May 15, 2020
On May 13th, multiple members discovered an error on the Alberta Governments website, erroneously listing massage therapy as part of the Stage 1 opening. The MTAA was able to contact the government and confirm that Massage Therapy is categorized to re-open in Stage 2.
Premier Kenny recently mentioned during a media session that Stage 2 would happen “not before June 19th”. I caution members about booking a full schedule for this date. As the citizens of Calgary and Brooks discovered late yesterday, nothing is guaranteed when it comes to COVID-19 re-opening dates.
At this stage, we should be contacting our patients, checking in on their health status, and letting them know we anticipate being able to offer hands-on massage therapy appointments sometime after June 19th, 2020.
As clinicians, engaging with our patients during this time is an effective way to continue to nourish the therapeutic relationship and will often lead to better results for your patients and a full practice for you to return to.
Developing a waitlist of patients who are interested in an appointment is easier to manage than having to cancel multiple appointments due to a delayed Stage 2. Communication is integral in long term patient retention.
With constantly changing restrictions, timelines and public health mandates, social media have continued to be flush with various ideas and theories. The role of the MTAA is to provide you with accurate information, in a timely manner, that will allow you to be prepared to return to practice. We will not hastily create policies that will become “out of date” or inaccurate before you are able to return to practice. Weeks ago, the MTAA, with assistance from the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors, submitted a complete “return to practice guideline” to the government of Alberta for approval and/or guidance.
We have been informed that Alberta Health has actioned our proposal to their team, but with the COVID-19 situation changing as the economy re-opens, they want to wait until we are further into stage one before they give approval or advise on the changes they would like to see in a plan that becomes relevant in Stage 2.
I know waiting for guidance is frustrating and that PPE is still a concern for many therapists. At this time, to give any firm indications of requirements would be premature as they may change over the course of the re-opening. The MTAA’s guidelines on PPE and other best practices will be very closely tied to the recommendations of AHS, the Chief Medical Officer of Health and various regulatory health colleges in Alberta.
I am confident in the direction the Chief Medical Officer of Health has guided the Alberta Government, and I believe our profession and our practices will return safe and strong this summer.
May 1, 2020
Alberta's Relaunch Strategy
Yesterday, Premier Kenney released Alberta’s relaunch strategy. Stage 1 of the relaunch is set to begin as early as May 14, with Massage Therapy being designated in the Stage 2 category. Stage 2 has not been given a set date of relaunch but will be after Stage 1 has been determined to have been a success based on various health indicators.
In order to re-open practices, RMTs will need to follow guidelines and protocols put forth by the Alberta government. The government has not yet released any indication as to the personal protective equipment (PPE) or safety guidelines businesses in Stage 2 will need to adhere to.
Prior to re-opening practices, it is advised that all members educate themselves on the proper infection control procedures and use of PPE. Free online courses are available through Alberta Health Services at:
Although these courses are geared towards hospital staff, much of the information is applicable to RMT’s in private practice. Members who complete the Personal Protective Equipment and You course and submit their certificate of completion to firstname.lastname@example.org will receive 1 Primary credit.
The MTAA will continue to be in contact with government officials regarding this and will release any information we are provided to you in a swift manner.
We understand that therapists are eager to get back to work, and the safety of both our members and the public has always been the utmost importance to the MTAA. The MTAA and its Board of Directors will continue to support you in this staged transition.
COVID-19 Notice to Members
Friday, March 27, 2020
It was announced today by the provincial government that all massage therapy-related activities must cease, effective immediately. Failure to abide by this order could lead to a complaints/disciplinary investigation by the MTAA.
MTAA Board of Directors
Update to Members: March 24, 2020
In our previous notice to members, we recommended that you stop practicing based upon the inability to maintain social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have received a significant volume of questions regarding this recommendation and if it is mandatory.
To clarify, the MTAA does not have the authority to demand you close your practice. Only the various levels of government (Municipal, Provincial and Federal) have the authority to mandate a closure of your practice. Some municipalities, such as Chestermere, have already mandated the closure of Massage Therapy practices. The list of provinces that have mandated the restriction of massage therapy is growing to include Ontario, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Quebec. At this time, the Alberta government has not yet released a mandated closure.
Massage Therapy involves touch. It is impossible to implement the recommended two-meter social distancing guidelines when providing massage therapy care. This inherently increases the risk of contracting or transmitting the COVID-19 virus.
It is based on this fact that we continue to recommend you refrain from offering massage therapy at this time.
However, we understand that some of our members work with patients in acute situations and may feel that treatment would eliminate the strain on our emergency medical providers. To align with the position of the regulated health care professions in Alberta, emergent care may be administered providing the following is true:
We know that our members have the skills to properly assess every situation on a case by case basis and decide whether the benefits of treatment outweigh the risks. As a healthcare provider, you need to conduct proper risk screening procedures and implement the most stringent risk management protocols to decrease the likelihood of virus transmission as much as possible in a human contact-based environment. Please visit the Acute Care Info page for information on best practices during the COVID-19 pandemic and determination of necessary massage therapy treatments. Please note that you will be prompted to provide your member log in details and will then be forwarded to the Acute Care Info webpage.
We have also received a significant amount of member questions regarding if their liability insurance is valid during this time. We have been assured by our insurance provider that your liability policy is in full effect at the current time, however, your insurance policy does not cover you for any claims pertaining to the transmission of COVID-19. If a patient were to claim that they were at your clinic, or, had a treatment from you, and they were subsequently diagnosed with COVID-19, your insurance policy would not cover a claim related to the virus. Your insurance policy would also not cover any legal costs arising from fighting that claim. Providing any massage therapy treatment during this COVID-19 pandemic increases your liability risk – specific to the COVID-19 virus.
We would like to reiterate that the situation with COVID-19 is rapidly changing. Governments are continuously mandating service closures and enforcing new restrictions to level the spread of this virus. We advise all members to stay current with the recommendations and enforcements enacted by all levels of government and to refer to Alberta Health Services and the Chief Medical Officer of Health for best practices during this provincial state of health emergency.
We wish you all the best of health and please know that we are here to offer support and guidance during this unprecedented time.
MTAA Board of Directors
March 18, 2020
Notice to Members
Our accounting affinity partner, Christine Walters of All-Inclusive Accountant has prepared the following information regarding finances for you, in this time of uncertainty. We understand that many of our members are self-employed, and the inability to work may cause a severe financial strain on yourselves as well as your families. Please review the following information provided by Ms. Walters:
Dear MTAA Member,
With the sudden escalation with regards to COVID-19 and the isolation measures that are being put in place, it’s likely that filing your Tax Return is the last thing on your mind.
I would like to inform you that the CRA has announced that they will be extending the deadline for filing your Personal Tax Returns to June 1st and the payment deadline will be extended to August 31st before any interest is charged.
If you receive Child Tax benefits or GST benefits it is recommended that you file your return as close to April 30th as possible so that your new benefit amounts starting in July will flow without interruption.
Here are some details of the initiatives the government is proposing to help all of us:
The federal government is proposing a one-time special payment to happen most likely in May, which will probably double the quarterly GST payment you may receive. The federal government is also proposing to increase the Canada Child Benefit by $300 per child for the year.
The government is also proposing a 6-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada student loans for people in repayment.
Six of Canada's biggest banks have announced support for families which can include 6 months of payment deferrals for mortgages, in addition to other relief on other credit products. Click here to read more details. Please reach out to your bank and see what options are available to you. If your mortgage is insured through CMHC there are also options including payment deferral, loan re-amortization and other special payment arrangements, speak to your mortgage professional to see what is available for you. Click here to read more details.
For those of you that are incorporated, the CRA is allowing you to defer the payment of any income tax owing until August 31, 2020. There has been no mention of extending filing deadlines at this time.
The government has proposed temporary income support for workers and parents. These benefits will be administered by CRA and could provide up to $900 biweekly for up to 15 weeks for eligible persons. Right now eligible persons includes all workers including self-employed who are quarantined or sick with COVID19 who do not qualify for EI, workers including self-employed who are taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID19 and do not qualify for EI, and parents with children who require care or supervision due to school closures and are unable to earn employment income regardless of whether they qualify for EI or not. The government has informed us the application for this program will be available in April. You will be able to apply through your MYCRA account, My Service Canada account or calling a toll-free number.
There is a Longer-Term Income Support for Workers, however, the details have not yet been released for this. For right now the government is saying a payment of an undisclosed amount for the Emergency Support Benefit will be delivered through CRA to support workers who are not eligible for EI and are facing unemployment. Does this include us as self-employed? That remains to be seen.
If you are running a small business with employees, the government is proposing a temporary wage subsidy for 3 months. The subsidy will be equal to 10% of the payroll paid in that period up to a maximum of $1375 per employee and $25000 per employer. Businesses can benefit immediately from this measure by reducing their payroll remittances.
Please note that most of these initiatives require Royal Assent, so it will still be at least 3 weeks before we can access any of these benefits. This information can be sourced from the following link:
If you’d like to chat with me to go through your current situation, for some more information on filing your Tax Return remotely, or the change in deadlines with regards to the current state of emergency - Please feel free to contact me via email at email@example.com. As an Affinity Partner with the MTAA, I offer a discounted rate for all tax filing for members.
Please do reach out if you have any questions, I’ll aim to get back to you as soon as possible. Also, please feel free to forward this information to your co-workers, friends and family.
Best wishes and keep safe,
March 18, 2020
We want to update our members with the recent statements made by our Prime Minister related to the support for Canadians due to COVID-19.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stated that for those who do not qualify for EI Insurance and do not have access to paid sick leave, the Canadian Government is introducing the COVID -19 Emergency Care Benefit that will provide financial support every two weeks to workers who have to stay home. Individuals can receive this benefit for up to 14 weeks for an amount that is comparable to what an individual would receive through EI. This applies to people who become ill, for those placed in quarantine or need to self-isolate, or for those that have to take care of a family member with COVID-19 but fail to qualify for EI benefits.
If you have lost your job but you do not qualify for EI benefits the Canadian Government is implementing the COVID-19 Emergency Support Benefit to assist Canadians. This will apply to people who are self-employed and have to close their business due to COVID-19.
The Canadian Government is offering a temporary wage subsidy for small businesses equal to 10% of salary paid to employees for a period of 3 months. This is to assist employers to keep employees on their payroll.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau outlined other measures being taken by the federal government related to those that owe taxes for 2019, for parents with children that receive the Canada Child Tax Benefit, as well as for individuals with low income through increasing the GST benefit, for those that have a Canada Student Loans as well as other measures.
As we obtain more information about the COVID -19 Emergency Care Benefit and the COVID-19 Emergency Support Benefit we will be sharing these details with our members. These updates will be issued via email, by posting this information on our website www.mtaalberta.com in the section dedicated to COVID-19, as well as through the MTAA Facebook Page.
We recognize these are uncertain times and individuals are eager to get more information about the support that is being created due to COVID-19. We want to assure our members that we will keep you updated as we learn of any new details.
March 17, 2020
Today we are faced with a health pandemic that none of us have ever experienced. Understandably it is causing fear and confusion.
As of March 17th, the Prime Minister has recommended “people stay home”, Calgary has declared a state of emergency and the province of Alberta has declared a state of public health emergency. We are being advised by our governments and our medical professionals to enact social distancing and stay a minimum of two meters away from others whenever possible.
The MTAA has consistently stated that we will follow the recommendations of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, and the recommendations of Alberta Health Services. Today, with the Alberta government declaring a state of public health emergency and the increasing recommendations from the Chief Medical Officer of Health to practice social distancing, the MTAA is strongly recommending our members take the following action:
Immediately cease all massage therapy services until at least March 30th, 2020.
Massage Therapy is not an essential front-line medical service. Although it is an incredibly effective and beneficial healthcare service, the risks of potentially contracting or transmitting COVID-19 generally outweigh the benefits of massage therapy treatment.
The MTAA acknowledges that the decision to shut down your practice is incredibly difficult. There are personal, financial and ethical considerations, and many of you will face significant financial hardship as a result. This recommendation was not a decision we made lightly. The College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO), the College of Massage Therapists of British Columbia (CMTBC) and the Canadian Physiotherapy Association have all recommended that their clinicians suspend their practices immediately.
Nationally, it has become clear that it is time to take extreme measures to help flatten the curve of this virus. We need to help our first-line healthcare providers save the lives of Canadian’s. We can do this by suspending our practices, applying social distancing in our lives, and stopping the spread of COVID-19. We know our members want to do what is right, even if it the hard choice, and it is clear the right choice today is to suspend all massage therapy activities.
The MTAA is continuing to watch and speak with our government partners in hopes that there will be financial assistance to all members who suspend their practice, whether they are independent contractors, clinic owners or employees. We will continue to update you with any new developments as soon as we receive them.
Together we can support each other, persevere through this incredibly difficult time, and continue to help all Canadians maximize their health.
COVID-19 Update- March 15, 2020
The COVID-19 virus and the rapid increase of infections in Alberta is a growing concern to MTAA. We appreciate the concern of our members, their clinics, staff and patients. As the situation regarding this virus is changing daily, and new recommendations are being issued by the Chief Medical Officer of Alberta, it is important that all members stay apprised of any new developments using the official Alberta Health website https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx
The MTAA recommends all its members:
1) Contact all scheduled clients and advise them not to attend their appointment if:
2) Advise clients who have travelled outside of Canada or who have any of the above-listed symptoms to self-isolate and call 811.
3) Advise clients who are coming into your clinics to wash/ sanitize their hands prior to entering your clinic and after receiving their treatment.
4) Follow proper infection control guidelines, standards of practice and hygiene best practices.
At this time, the Chief Medical Officer of Alberta has not recommended you close your practice. It is important to note that this situation is changing rapidly, and this advice may change. Please stay current to the daily updates provided by the Chief Medical Officer of Alberta.
It is important to note that the City of Calgary has declared a state of emergency and has ordered closed all city rec facilities, public libraries and other non-profit organizations. Along with these closures, the city of Calgary has also issued an order stating that all buildings need to limit their occupancy to half of the capacity approved by the City of Calgary Fire licensing department. All clinics in the City of Calgary must limit their total occupancy to half of what their license states.
It is also important to note that other provinces in Canada and regulatory colleges have recommended their professionals close clinics and cease all non-essential healthcare at this time. The MTAA advises all members to prepare for the possibility of the mandated closure of all Massage Therapy businesses in the near future. The Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada have assured us that employees and businesses will be taken care of in this challenging time, and they will release more information regarding available assistance in the coming week.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding how to best prepare yourself during this outbreak, please contact the MTAA office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Due to the increased inquiries and concerns regarding the coronavirus also known as COVID-19, the MTAA advises that all therapists follow MTAA Standards of Practice and guidelines provided by the Government of Alberta by clicking on the following link: https: //www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx