2016 Annual Report
About the NHPC Community
The Natural Health Practitioners of Canada (NHPC) is the largest holistic health organization across Canada, comprised of 22 staff and over 6,000 members. Established in 1988, the Association is proud of its high levels of competency and ethics.
The NHPC staff advocates to the public, governments, and insurance industry for fair recognition of all members and over 60 holistic health practices. It has a strong tradition of professional standards and is committed to maintaining these standards for its members.
The NHPC community is dedicated to promoting and improving the health of Canadians. As more and more people explore various health management options, they seek treatments that complement traditional health care.
By building awareness of the many benefits of massage and holistic treatments and by reinforcing high standards of practice, the NHPC community makes a significant contribution to Canada's health and wellness landscape.
Board President and Chief Executive Officer's Report
As we look back at 2016, we feel pride in the accomplishments of our NHPC community — our members, Board of Directors, staff, and many volunteers.
Every year, we see more and more practitioners join the NHPC. We believe this is in part due to our continued attention to our unique support services:
- The products and services negotiated with discount providers continue to offer great savings.
- Practice management advisors fielded increasing numbers of calls throughout the year.
- An extended health care plan was offered in 2016.
- The national conference is unsurpassed in the quality and diversity of presenters.
- Members are represented to governments and the insurance industry.
- The online Health Provider Directory is a great tool to market members' practices.
- The online Holistic Health Guide is a resource that can be shared with clients wanting more information on holistic health practices.
- Communications that offer timely updates on a number of topics important to members.
In 2016, 36 members completed the Competency Equivalency Exam, which increased their eligibility with insurance industry providers.
Our staff offered courses, workshops, and webinars across Canada, based on what our members told us they needed to grow their knowledge base. The national conference in Calgary was a great success, and plans commenced to hold two conferences in 2017 — one being in Mexico! Standards reviews were completed for six holistic practices including Shiatsu, Reflexology, Thai Massage, Craniosacral Therapy, Manual Lymphatic Drainage Therapy, and Aromatherapy.
One of the highlights each year for the NHPC community is gathering at Connections Cafes. This occurred in 18 locations across Canada, and through discussions and surveys, our members provided staff with direction on a number of issues, including regulation of massage therapy.
Throughout the year, the government relations team was engaged in meetings and negotiations about regulation in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. Members in all three provinces were consulted for their needs and priorities regarding regulation, once again providing clear direction for the development of proposals and discussions with other stakeholder groups.
In Alberta, an application for regulation was delivered to the government in July 2016 and a transitional council was formed to begin work on the details of establishing a regulatory College.
In December, the Massage Therapy Association of Manitoba and the NHPC provided a joint report of recommendations to the government. In Saskatchewan, the stakeholder group prepared a joint report for submission in early 2017.
The NHPC communications team continued to raise the profile of NHPC and holistic health to the broader public.
A new website launched in June, making it easier for the public to learn more about holistic health and to find practitioners. A membership dashboard was introduced with a members-only section loaded with information on a variety of topics.
Our social media presence was launched through Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Instagram and YouTube. Further opportunities for exposure included two tradeshows and a marathon. Taping of five segments for Edmonton's City TV Dinner Show in 2017 will highlight the Association, Reflexology, Reiki, Shiatsu, and Thai Massage.
We are especially proud to have such a large group of enthusiastic volunteers! In addition to the tradeshows, a highlight was our ability to provide free treatments to the victims of the Fort McMurray wildfire. From them, we were reminded of the importance of many everyday things we may take for granted.
In the fall, staff initiated a partnership with Ronald MacDonald House Charities Northern Alberta, with a number of activities planned for 2017, and the opportunity to expand this partnership across Canada.
The NHPC continues to serve the public and uphold the standards of the profession with a robust complaints resolution process, offering a respectful means of addressing allegations of misconduct.
Staff continually review and improve processes and systems, all part of being a healthy organization. This included a revised membership application and English language proficiency alignment with industry standards.
Advocacy efforts with insurance companies continued with successful results.
The NHPC staff successfully advocated to TELUS Health and the ten insurance companies in their eClaims agreement to recognize 913 massage therapy members who had been exempted by Manulife and Sun Life to be eligible for direct-billing services.
The NHPC presented a workshop on Integrated Holistic Approaches for Healthy Living and provided holistic health treatments to insurance company delegates at the CLHIA Claims & Anti-fraud Conference in 2016. Chair massage, Craniosacral Therapy, Reiki, Reflexology, and Shiatsu were practices that insurers became knowledgeable and aware of for future advocacy work.
The Board of Directors is comprised of NHPC members who were elected from different provinces and who represent a variety of holistic health practices, primarily massage therapy.
In 2016, the Board welcomed five new members: Sharon Bell, Trish Cole, Paulla Schmidt, Shauna Schofield, and Nikki Spence. We bid farewell to members who retired from the Board after many years of dedication to the NHPC: Jeff Lazo, Kim MacEachran, and Michelle Blanchard.
The Board held four in-person meetings throughout 2016. The third-quarter Board meeting was held in Winnipeg and included a meeting with the Board of Directors of the Massage Therapy Association of Manitoba.
The Board of Directors committees also met throughout 2016. These included the Sanctions Committee, the Leadership Committee, the Performance Assessment and Compensation Review Committee, and the Bylaws Committee.
NHPC volunteer members also contributed their expertise to other committees. These included the Massage Therapy Program Approval Committee, the Credentials Committee, and the Continued Competency Committee.
The many activities accomplished in 2016 were made possible because of the strong NHPC community — whether it was through member feedback and direction, volunteer opportunities, essential committee work, or progressive staff work. These accomplishments continue to promote the professionalism of the entire NHPC community.
The NHPC's Complaints Resolution Process provides protection to the public and upholds the standards of the profession. The process is a transparent and fair way for the NHPC to investigate and resolve alleged misconduct of a member.
Throughout 2016, the NHPC investigated 18 complaint files. Of the 18 active files, eight were new in 2016 and interim suspension or conditions were imposed on most of those members in the Complaints Resolution Process.
The nature of the complaints included:
- Personal Misconduct (touch/boundary/consent)
- Business Misconduct (fraudulent/negligent billing/recordkeeping)
- Personal Misconduct (attitude/respect/confidentiality)
On average, two-thirds of members in the Complaints Resolution Process have two years of training and have practised for more than five years.
Five complaint investigations were completed in 2016, with three referred to the Sanction Committee to determine sanctions to be placed upon those members.
The Practice Management Advisor (PMA) provides information to the public, clinics, the insurance industry, and to NHPC members. The Advisor assists members by discussing business practices, workplace dilemmas, interpersonal conflicts, and other everyday practice and ethical questions.
These discussions provide a critical and candid look into the daily realities of being a holistic health practitioner.
Throughout 2016, the PMA fielded 324 practice-related inquires. The most frequently asked questions by members were:
- Who owns the files in my clinic?
- What are the benefits of being an employee vs. a contractor?
- What are the business licence requirements in my area?
Common questions from members, the public, or the insurance industry may provide an opportunity for more formal education on a specific topic. The PMA works with the Education and Events team to make practice-related learning opportunities available to members at no cost.
These workshops not only address practice-related issues for attendees, but also help members meet their Continued Competency Program (CCP) requirements.
In 2016, NHPC Fraud Prevention workshops were offered at Connections Cafe meetings in 15 cities across Canada. A webinar on the same topic was hosted online for members who could not attend the in-person events.
Membership and Credentials
Through initial review and ongoing audit, NHPC staff assist members and applicants to understand and meet the membership requirements that support the NHPC's professional standards.
As well, the NHPC offers several member benefits, including group discounts on often-requested services, products, and education opportunities.
Discount Provider Program
In response to member feedback, the NHPC expanded its Discount Provider Program in 2016. New providers included:
- Specialized Benefits - a nationwide group health plan from Group Source that features coverage of pre-existing medical conditions
- St. John's Ambulance - a discount on select courses, including First Aid and CPR
- SOAP Vault - web-based management of SOAP notes, finances, and appointments
The NHPC also negotiated better rates with its other seven existing discount providers, including:
- TELUS Mobility
- Perkopolis discounted products and services
- Economical Select home and auto insurance
- GoodLife Fitness
- Versapay credit and debit
- CustomCare health and dental insurance
In 2016, the NHPC exceeded its goal for membership renewals. The online renewal process was improved with the launch of the new website.
Gaining new members helps strengthen the NHPC community. New membership recruitment events are great opportunities for the Association to:
- meet with students from a variety of disciplines
- share the various aspects of work the NHPC performs on behalf of its members
- present the benefits of membership to potential new members
- monitor the curriculums of various schools
In 2016, the NHPC made 31 recruitment visits, including visits to a number of schools as part of its School Visit Program and two membership recruitment tradeshows. The tradeshows were the Massage Therapy Expo in Vaughn, ON, and One Concept Massage Therapy Conference in Burlington, ON.
Because of these recruitment efforts, the NHPC welcomed 695 new members in 2016.
Competency Equivalency Exam
The NHPC Competency Equivalency Exam (CEE) is based on current national competency standards. It allows NHPC massage therapists to demonstrate their competence as practitioners in a standardized way.
In 2016, 36 members completed the CEE, which increased their eligibility with insurance industry providers. The CEE continues to be held at Mount Royal College in Calgary, AB, in response to demand.
New Modality Recognition
Recognition of new modalities allows members to expand their range of treatments and to potentially have these treatments insured. It also ensures that new modalities meet NHPC's standards of safety before members can officially add them to their practice.
In 2016, the NHPC Board of Directors approved Myofascial Cupping. It is now recognized by the NHPC as a specialization-level modality within the domain of soft-tissue manipulation.
Myofascial Cupping training provides practitioners with the knowledge and skills to encourage healing through suction on the skin.
Massage Therapy Regulation
The NHPC Government Relations team represents its members at all levels of government: provincial/territorial, municipal, and federal. To ensure that member interests are accurately represented, the Association consults with members in areas with active issues or initiatives, as well as the general membership.
In 2016, NHPC staff and volunteers actively represented member interests with the provincial governments in Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan, which are all progressing with massage therapy regulation.
The NHPC, the Remedial Massage Therapists Association (RMTA), and the Massage Therapist Association of Alberta (MTAA), continue to work as a coalition on the regulation of massage therapy. In 2016, they presented a revised application for regulation (PDF) to the Government of Alberta.
The coalition jointly consulted with its members in-person throughout the province to identify direction for regulation. The survey identified these priorities:
- currently practising massage therapists being grandfathered into the College
- fair and affordable College fees
- consistent standards for massage therapy across Canada
- improved continuing education opportunities
- consistent standards for massage therapy schools
- a Board of Directors for the College that includes practising massage therapists
- clarity on the role of massage therapists in providing health services
Transition to the Regulatory College
Transition to the regulatory College will require members to qualify. Members were very interested in understanding the criteria for transitional entry into the College or grandfathering.
The NHPC, RMTA, and MTAA met with the Associate Minister of Health, who provided support in principle for forming the College of Massage Therapy in Alberta.
The coalition registered the Transitional Council of the College of Massage Therapy of Alberta (TCCMTA) as a Society. This council will evolve to become the College of Massage Therapists of Alberta.
The TCCMTA now evaluates two-year or 2,200 hour massage therapy programs. It created the Massage Therapy Program Approval Process Committee to review all school applications previously managed by the individual associations.
Interested groups, including other associations, health professional colleges, and massage therapy schools, will also be consulted in 2017 by the TCCMTA to ensure a smooth transition into regulation.
Throughout 2016, the NHPC continued its collaboration with the Massage Therapy Association of Manitoba (MTAM) through meetings between their Association leaders and Boards of Directors. As a result, both Associations contributed equally to the development of a government-requested report on massage therapy regulation, submitted in December.
The report covered recommendations including how to transition current members into the College and operation of the future regulatory body.
It recommended entry into the College through a Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) process and other bridging programs to ensure that all practitioners have an equal opportunity to demonstrate their competency.
During the spring and fall of 2016, NHPC staff consulted with members to determine their views and direction on massage therapy regulation in Saskatchewan.
Staff representing the NHPC worked with other stakeholders to edit the draft massage therapy legislation in Saskatchewan. Stakeholders included: the Massage Therapists Association of Saskatchewan, the Remedial Massage Therapists Association, the London and Counties Society of Physiologists, the Western College of Massage Therapists, and the McKay School of Massage Therapy.
These stakeholders held discussions on recommended changes to legislation, including how to grandfather current practitioners.
The NHPC also plans to prepare a separate submission in 2017 recommending transitional requirements of existing members in good standing to the College. The report will make a strong case to grandfather all currently practising massage therapists into the College during the transition.
The massage therapy regulation climate in Nova Scotia was monitored throughout 2016. While there was no activity from the provincial government, the NHPC Government Relations team continued to work on building relationships with other provincial organizations.
The NHPC works with insurance companies across Canada to ensure that NHPC members are recognized for their competencies. This is accomplished through relationship-building, advocacy, meetings, educational materials, and presentations.
The NHPC embarked on a number of initiatives throughout 2016 to educate insurance company staff and raise awareness of NHPC standards.
Industry Education and Awareness
The 2016 Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) Claims and Anti-fraud Conference gave NHPC staff and practitioners the opportunity to educate the insurance industry about the benefits of holistic health and its practitioners.
The NHPC was a delegate, exhibitor, and presenter at the conference. Several delegates received Chair Massage, Reiki, Reflexology, and Shiatsu treatments provided by NHPC practitioners at its booth.
Integrated Holistic Approaches for Healthy Living, the NHPC presentation, provided background, benefits, and research on holistic health practices in a session to insurance company representatives. The participants also received hands-on and visual demonstrations of the practices.
Delegates at the conference responded positively to the NHPC booth and presentation, paving the way for future advocacy work.
CLHIA Anti-fraud Working Group
NHPC staff were presenters at the June 2016 meeting of the CLHIA Anti-fraud Working Group. The presentation included information about the Association, practice management, and the complaints resolution process.
Participation in the meeting opened opportunities to collaborate with CLHIA and insurers on creating processes for investigating, auditing, and verifying provider eligibility.
Motor Vehicle Accident Insurance Task Force
The NHPC, the Massage Therapist Association of Alberta (MTAA), and the Remedial Massage Therapists of Alberta (RMTA) all participated in the Motor Vehicle Accident Insurance (MVAI) Task Force. The Task Force represents Alberta massage therapists in relation to the Motor Vehicle Act.
In 2016, the Alberta Government asked the MVAI Task Force to provide input on two consultation papers: the Diagnostic and Treatment Protocols Regulation and the Automobile Accident Insurance Benefit Regulation.
The Task Force's feedback on the papers covered several topics, including the following:
- defining treatment visits
- enhancing accident benefits for severe injury
- medical payment for massage therapy and other paramedical treatments
The Task Force discussed its recommendations with the Alberta Treasury Board and Finance in late 2016 and expects to hear back early in 2017.
TELUS Health eClaims
During 2016, the NHPC Industry Relations team advocated to TELUS Health and insurance companies participating in their eClaims service to make additional NHPC members eligible for direct-billing.
As a result, the following groups of members became eligible to bill through TELUS eClaims:
- massage therapists who were previously exempted by Manulife and Sun Life
- graduates of two-year massage therapy programs that are slightly less than 2,200 hours, but meet the Inter-Jurisdictional Document competency standards
These advocacy efforts led to 913 NHPC massage therapists becoming eligible for TELUS eClaims billing in 2016.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Veterans Affairs Canada
Medavie Blue Cross provides direct-billing services for the extended health benefits of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC).
Only claims for treatments by massage therapists with at least 2,200 hours of formal training are currently eligible for reimbursement with the federal programs.
In 2016, NHPC staff advocated for these federal programs to also recognize members who passed the Competency Equivalency Exam or those with several years of practical experience. This eligibility criteria is similar to what is accepted currently by Alberta Blue Cross.
NHPC staff attended both the International Massage Therapy Research Conference (IMTRC) and the Canadian Interdisciplinary Network for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (INCAM) Research Symposium in 2016.
This was an important step to become current on research and to develop a list of potential research contacts to collaborate with in the future.
A research plan was finalized for the following year to include a complete research literature review on the benefits of Reflexology. The review will support advocacy to insurance companies, governments, and the medical community, as well as raise awareness with the general pubic.
The plan also included building a partnership with a healthcare organization to pilot a project where NHPC members provide holistic health treatments to patients/clients. This will allow NHPC staff and members to be involved directly in holistic health research.
Education and Events
NHPC staff supports members' ongoing learning and Continued Competency Program (CCP) participation by organizing educational offerings throughout the year. It also helps strengthen the holistic health community by facilitating member meetings and networking.
Courses, Workshops, and Webinars
NHPC-sponsored courses and workshops offer members across Canada with high-quality, live continuing education on a variety of topics. Webinars engage members to share their learning with peers and interact with presenters in real time, regardless of their location.
In 2016, the NHPC facilitated nine in-person courses and workshops in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, British Columbia, the Yukon, and Nova Scotia.
Topics were based on member feedback and included Fraud Prevention, CranioSacral Therapy, Thai Yoga massage, and Anatomy Review. Fraud prevention was the most popular topic, followed by the individual courses Musculoskeletal Cadaver Anatomy Review and Introduction to CranioSacral Therapy.
NHPC Connections Cafes are meetings that keep members updated on Association initiatives in their areas and give them the chance to connect with NHPC staff and other members. NHPC staff and Board hosted Connections Cafes in 18 cities in eight provinces and territories in 2016, as well as two online meetings.
Over 790 participants attended these member meetings. Throughout the year, members provided feedback on NHPC proposed initiatives and on direction for regulation of massage therapy.
NHPC's Practice Management Advisor presented the Fraud Prevention workshop to members as part of the Connections Cafes agendas.
NHPC National Conference
NHPC conferences deliver high-quality workshops by world-class presenters on a variety of holistic health topics. They are also networking opportunities through a range of activities such as the tradeshow, banquet, and reception.
There were 257 participants at the 2016 National Conference in Calgary, AB, from June 9 to 12. This was held in conjunction with the Association's Annual General Meeting. The Conference tradeshow had 16 exhibitors offering products and services for holistic health practitioners.
The Conference offered 35 workshops in over 10 of NHPC's recognized modalities, as well as Ethics and First Aid/CPR. This gave attending members the opportunity to fulfil all of their CCP requirements at a single, three-day event.
Modalities covered in Conference workshops included the following:
- Energy Work
- Massage Therapy
- Thai Massage
NHPC staff keep members up to date on matters affecting their membership, from renewal deadlines to changes in bylaws and advocacy initiatives. They also manage the public face of the Association through activities such as advertising, sponsorships, media relations, social media, and participation in public events.
In addition to Connections Cafes and webinars, the NHPC community communicates by email and telephone, and updates are also delivered through the electronic NHPC News.
A total of 102 emails were sent to NHPC members in 2016, with an average open rate of 49%. These numbers demonstrate high engagement from members.
The twice-monthly NHPC News email keeps members updated on a variety of Association activities and opportunities. Throughout 2016, the open rates for the NHPC News ranged from 41 to 51%.
The new website added a dashboard feature to member accounts. The dashboard shows reminders of renewal and Continued Competency Program deadlines, as well as feeds for relevant member news articles, member meetings, events, and jobs.
The NHPC community engages in a variety of activities to familiarize the public with the benefits of holistic health practices. Some of these activities also give NHPC practitioners a chance to connect with people directly to demonstrate their skills and professionalism.
The NHPC participated in two tradeshows in 2016: the Mans' Show Meets a Woman's World in Saskatoon and the Calgary Woman's Show. At these events, NHPC members provided 15-minute demonstrations to visitors to the booth.
The tradeshow demonstrations in Saskatoon were fully booked. The tradeshow booth in Calgary was exposed to 15,000 members of the public and had a full complement of volunteers. The NHPC's sponsor status featured them on the Calgary Woman's Show website.
Fort McMurray Wildfire Relief
Members of the NHPC, the Remedial Massage Therapists Association (RMTA), and the Massage Therapist Association of Alberta (MTAA) provided free holistic treatments to the victims of the wildfire in Fort McMurray, AB, in mid-May. This was a successful collaborative approach to helping people in centres in both Edmonton and Calgary.
The NHPC negotiated a sponsorship with Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern Alberta in 2016. It is the only facility in Edmonton and the surrounding area that provides temporary, affordable accommodation for families with children being treated in one of Edmonton's medical facilities.
In 2017, NHPC volunteer practitioners will provide holistic health treatments to families, staff, and volunteers of the House at no charge.
The NHPC began running airport "gap" advertising at the Edmonton International Airport and Calgary International Airport in late 2016.
Advertising increases public familiarity with the NHPC specifically and generally raises awareness of the holistic health industry. This will be expanded to other airports in Canada in 2017.
During 2016, the NHPC worked with Edmonton City TV to be featured in five segments of Dinner TV's "Ask the Experts" the following year. City TV began pre-taping the first two segments, an introduction to holistic health and Reflexology, in December.
Holistic Health Guide
The NHPC-developed Holistic Health Guide was delivered to members in early 2016 so they could share information on holistic health practices with their clients. An electronic version was launched with the new website in June 2016.
The Guide features all of NHPC's recognized holistic health practices, providing history, definitions, treatment details, and reasons to explore the practices.
The electronic version of the Guide is frequently referenced in communications to educate the public and industry about NHPC-recognized practices.
Health Provider Directory
Members of the public can search for NHPC holistic health practitioners in the Health Provider Directory. The directory was re-launched with the new website in June of 2016, with over 1,000 members adding their listings between July and December 2016.
Website and Social Media
The NHPC began increasing its online presence in mid-2016 by launching a new website and by increasing activity on social media platforms. A strong online presence raises public and industry awareness and promotes the NHPC member community.
With its launch in late June 2016, the new website had a total of 58,878 visits from July to December. The top-visited areas were:
- Member Dashboard
- NHPC Courses
- External Courses
- New Membership Application
The NHPC Blog launched with the new website and has covered a variety of topics in the holistic health industry since then. From July to December 2016, the blog had 1,686 visitors.
The NHPC Facebook page continued to increase in activity throughout 2016, with 3,049 likes between January 1 and December 31, bringing the total to 7,026 on December 31.
On Twitter, the NHPC has 1,071 followers.
At the end of 2016, the Association also launched an Instagram page as an additional way to engage members and the public.