Nova Scotia·Health Hacks

What you need to know about Nova Scotia's unregulated health professions

The case of a Nova Scotia massage therapist who faces nine counts of sexual assault is highlighting the little-known disparity between health professions that have regulatory oversight, and those that don't. 

Health-care consultant Mary Jane Hampton shares her health hacks with CBC's Information Morning

There are 22 regulated health professions in Nova Scotia, but massage therapy isn't one of them. (Robert Short/CBC)

This is part of a series from CBC's Information Morning where Halifax health-care consultant Mary Jane Hampton discusses her "health hacks" — ways to make your experience with the health-care system better.

The case of a Nova Scotia massage therapist who faces nine counts of sexual assault is highlighting the need for stronger oversight of the province's unregulated health industry, says a health-care consultant.

Seven women have brought allegations against Martin Huybers, who has pleaded not guilty. He's still working while he awaits trial.

Nova Scotia is the only province in Atlantic Canada that does not regulate massage therapists. Mary Jane Hampton says it's a reality Nova Scotians need to be aware of.

Nova Scotia has 22 health professions that are regulated, including doctors and dentists. Other professionals, such as osteopaths, acupuncturists, naturopaths and massage therapists, aren't regulated.

"In a non-regulated environment, somebody can imply that they're a medical doctor when actually they're a PhD," Hampton told CBC's Information Morning. "So it's absolutely a buyer beware."

Mary Jane Hampton is a health-care consultant in Halifax. (Robert Short/CBC)

Legislation governs what regulated professionals can do, how they get their licence, how they keep their education up-to-date and how complaints are handled.

"So in a regulated environment, it's really about public protection to ensure that the provider that you're going to has the credentials that they claim to have," Hampton said.

She advises Nova Scotians to check the Nova Scotia Regulated Health Professions Network if they're unsure. 

If you find out the provider you plan to visit isn't on the list, Hampton said it's important to do your research.

"I'm not saying don't go to these providers," she said. "I'm saying do your homework and be aware that no one else is doing their homework for you."

It's also not enough to trust the professional organization the provider belongs to, she said.

"Never ever as your only source trust a blog or trust a claim that's being made by a professional association of that provider because you need to be aware: professional associations only mean that they have paid a fee to be a member," she said.

Some health fields, like podiatry, are trying to become a regulated profession in Nova Scotia. Hampton applauds that move.

"Truly in my opinion, any health practitioner who is claiming to provide a treatment for patients should be part of a regulated health profession. It's good for public safety," she said. 

READ MORE FROM OUR HEALTH HACKS SERIES

With files from CBC Radio's Information Morning

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