Starting today, acupuncture, herbal treatments, and other traditional Chinese medicines will be overseen by the provincial government.

In an effort to make these services safer, Ontario is now making sure that only regulated and qualified practitioners deliver these services.

“Traditional Chinese medicine plays an important and valuable role in the health and well-being of many Ontarians,” said Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. “This legislation ensures the public has the choice of regulated and qualified practitioners who are accountable to a regulatory body.”

Traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture practitioners need to be registered with and accountable to the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario. The college will oversee and regulate the profession to ensure patients receive safe, high quality health care services.

There are approximately 2,000 traditional Chinese medicine practitioners and acupuncturists in Ontario. The new legislation makes Ontario the second province after British Columbia to regulate traditional Chinese medicines.

Emily Cheung, registrar of the the newly established College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists, says that the rules are all about public safety.

“The college will ensure Ontarians receive quality health care services by practitioners who possess the knowledge, skill and judgment required for safe practice,” said Cheung.

Not everyone is on board with the new rules, however.

Peter Lam, spokesperson for the ad hoc Committee to Support Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario, says the new regulations may prevent those who’ve learned from their elders from practising, along with those who have insufficient English skills.

Lam said at a news conference two weeks ago that some 2,000 practitioners could lose their jobs due to the new regulations, a consequence he said went against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The group is seeking legal action to stop regulation of the traditional treatments.

Cheung says that it is possible for those who learned through ancestral tradition to register.

“They only need to prove that the number of patients that they’ve seen in the past five years was 2,000,” she said, adding that those who do not speak English can also become certified.

With files from the Canadian Press.


Steven Spriensma is a journalist and former news editor at Ignite News. He has a degree in Geography from McMaster University and an advanced diploma in journalism from Mohawk College.

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