Accreditation refers to the approval by an independent agency that an education program meets a pre-defined standard.
Most professions in Canada, particularly in the health sector, benefit from a national accreditation process for education programs. The advantages of national accreditation are well-established and include:
- promoting a common level of service provision nationally (benefiting patients)
- practitioner mobility (benefiting massage therapists, regulators and the national economy)the availability of objective information about program quality (benefiting students)
- improved access to educational resources (benefiting programs)
The desirability of national program accreditation has been much discussed within the massage therapy profession throughout its long history in Canada.
Over the years, massage therapists and their professional associations have striven for common national standards and for regulation. Massage Therapy is currently regulated by statute in only four provinces. In other jurisdictions a number of professional associations provide processes of voluntary self-regulation for their memberships; however standards of education and practice vary. This serves neither the profession nor the public well.
British Columbia has been alone among the regulated jurisdictions in having an accreditation process for massage therapy education. Program accreditation was initially provided by the regulatory body, the College of Massage Therapists of British Columbia (CMTBC). In addition, the Private Career Training Institutions Agency of BC (PCTIABC) provided organizational accreditation. In recent years CMTBC discontinued its accreditation process and now works in support of PCTIABC accreditation.
As a result of a federally-supported initiative to enhance labour mobility in line with changes made in 2009 to the federal-provincial Agreement on Internal Trade, massage therapy regulators undertook a project to align standards through the development of inter-jurisdictional practice competencies and performance indicators. In March 2012, at a national stakeholders’ meeting to review the newly-created practice competencies and performance indicators, regulators, professional associations and representatives of education programs from across the country expressed strong support for a national accreditation initiative.
In January 2013 the Federation of Massage Therapy Regulatory Authorities of Canada (FOMTRAC) engaged a consultant to create a stakeholder-driven action plan to establish national accreditation.
A 10-member National Accreditation Planning Committee was formed to provide direction for the project.
The members of FOMTRAC are the College of Massage Therapists of British Columbia (CMTBC), the College of Massage Therapists of Newfoundland & Labrador (CMTNL) and the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO).
The Planning Committee met throughout 2013 and presented the results of its discussions to school and association stakeholders from across Canada at a workshop in October 2013.
Please watch this video to learn more about accreditation.