Nfld. & Labrador

Don't call it a parlour, and other things massage therapists want you to know

Ever get confused about what massage therapy is all about? From terminology to tax problems, these two industry experts have you covered.

Take the word 'massage' out completely and use something else, RMT says

Claudette Marie Warren, left, is a registered massage therapist. Carolyn Staple is with the Newfoundland Labrador Massage Therapists' Association. (Paula Gale/CBC)

There's a big difference between a massage therapy clinic and a massage parlour.

It's so big, in fact, that registered massage therapists want the other businesses to change their names completely.

"Use something else that might accurately describe their industry," said Carolyn Staple, an RMT and chair of the provincial massage therapist association outreach and media relations committee.

"Massage parlour" is a euphemism that describes a business where sexual services are sold. It's the way the City of St. John's describes such businesses. 

That may soon change. At a recent council meeting, Coun. Maggie Burton put forward a proposal to change the nomenclature

"A number of massage therapists across the province did write letters to the city and then we met with them last week and talked about our concerns," said Staple.

"They were 100 per cent in agreement and they're going to be discussing that with representatives from [the sex] industry."

RMTs are taxed like any other business 

Aside from confusion with massage parlours, RMTs have another problem on their hands, Staple said. 

Chiropractors and physiotherapists are tax-exempt. Despite the similarities, massage therapists are not. 

Sitting is the new smoking.- Claudette Marie Warren

Five provinces now have regulated massage therapists, meaning therapists who meet the criteria can apply for tax exemption. That could mean cheaper massages for people in need of them.

Staple would like to see a similar regime in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

"We have an opportunity now to lobby the government to ask for the tax exemption… make it a little more accessible to people," she said.

That kind of accessibility could allow patients to be referred to a massage therapist during something as routine as a trip to the dentist. 

"People are surprised when their dentists refer them for massage therapy," said Claudette Marie Warren, a massage therapist.

"If you're doing tooth grinding or clenching, things like that… that in turn causes headaches. Massage therapy can really help those issues, massaging those muscles that are part of your jaw and your temple and your neck."

According to Warren, massage therapy is essential healthcare — not a luxury, especially for people who live sedentary lifestyles or work at a desk all day. 

"Sitting is the new smoking."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from The St. John's Morning Show