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October 18, 1999

To: Planning and Transportation Committee

From: James Ridge, Acting Commisioner, Municipal Licensing & Standards

Subject: Merit of licensing acupuncturists


To report as requested on the merit of licensing acupuncturists.


It is recommended that:

(1) Licensing of acupuncturists continue.


By way of Clause 4, Report 4 of the Planning and Transportation Committee, the Acting Commissioner of Urban Planning and Development Services was requested to submit a report to the November 1, 1999 meeting of the Planning and Transportation Committee on the merit of licensing acupuncturists.


The way the by-law is currently structured, relating to any practice involving physical contact with a customer, was intended to be broadly encompassing, so as not to leave loopholes for practices which were not in fact therapy. While the by-law does have that desired effect, it also has the effect of "drawing in" practices which may not have been contemplated in the original review. The danger of relaxing the by-law is the potential creation of loopholes. The danger in making one specific exemption, where there is no justification such as provincial regulations (as was the case with registered massage therapists), is the possibility of opening the door for many other requests for exemption where none is justified.

The Acting Executive Director has met with various representatives of the practice of acupuncture, and has consistently advised them to continue with their ongoing efforts to receive recognitionfrom the Province, at which point, when they are in the same situation as Registered Massage Therapists, we could remove the requirement for licensing.

While it is our belief that regulation through the Provincial Ministry of Health is ultimately the most appropriate avenue, there is some merit in continuing licensing. Members of the profession have argued that licensing may create an illusion of competence for some practitioners who may not in fact be so, and thus put the public at risk. However, when asked whether some admittedly imperfect regulation is better than no regulation, some practitioners did agree that there may be merit in the licensing process in that, at the very least, practitioners who willingly come forward for the scrutiny required to obtain a licence are more likely to be reputable. Prior to the introduction of the "Holistic Practitioner" schedule to the licensing by-law, there was no regulation and any person could have set up such a practice.

One other consideration is the fact that the City considers such licensing of value may send a message to the Province that some regulation of this, and other areas of Holistic practice, is necessary. The Acting Executive Director has indicated to the members of the profession with whom he has met that he will arrange a meeting with appropriate staff at the Ministry of Health to advise them of our belief that Provincial regulation/registration is desirable. We are currently making those arrangements.


Licensing of acupuncturists should continue until such time as the profession is fully recognized by the Provincial Ministry of Health.


Harold Bratten

Acting Executive Director

Municipal Licensing and Standards

Tel.: 416-392-8768 Fax: 416-392-8805

James Ridge

Acting Commissioner

Municipal Licensing and Standards


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