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Canada Life is the grouping of insurance companies (Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life Insurance Company), which merged into a single insurance company that now operates activities under the name of The Life Insurance Company, otherwise known as Canada Life. In the spring of 2019, the company sent a notice to all massage therapist associations in Quebec to let them know that the eligibility criteria for their group plans were going to change for massage therapists. The purpose of this letter was to announce the company’s intention to introduce two new criteria that Quebec massage therapists would have to meet in order to maintain their status as an eligible care provider to its insureds.
In April 2019, the Réseau began the process with the company with a working meeting with Quebec representatives from Canada Life. The goal of this meeting was specifically to define, in collaboration with them, parameters that will allow each of the parties to come out a winner in this transition.
The criteria defined by Canada Life are as follows:
Canada Life has issued a press release (in French only) announcing that it will postpone the changes that were to take effect on April 1, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, no new date has been mentioned. Canada Life is monitoring the current situation and will wait for the appropriate time to establish a new effective date to implement the enhanced requirements.
It is important to understand that Canada Life is an insurance company that covers all of Canada. The objective behind these new requirements was, among other things, a desire to standardize their eligibility criteria for their massage therapy care providers. It should be noted that in other Canadian provinces, it is necessary to have a minimum of 2200 hours of training to practice the profession of massage therapy. In Quebec, the reality is different; which the insurance company nevertheless took into consideration.
It is important to understand that this approach used by Canada Life represents an isolated initiative and that the company, according to a 2017 report by the Fraser Group company, covers less than 10% of insureds in Quebec.
To be eligible as a Canada Life accredited service provider, massage therapists must be members of an eligible association recognized by the insurance company. The Réseau has obtained confirmation that its status as an association recognized by Canada Life would be maintained following its requalification.
If you are a graduate and member of an eligible association recognized by Canada Life and you have 1000 hours of training on file before April 1, 2020, you will keep your recognition with the insurance company. However, to maintain your recognition in the long term, you will need to complete continuing education courses at the rate of 25 hours every three years.
If you are a graduate and member of an eligible association recognized by Canada Life and you have less than 1000 hours of training in your file before April 1, 2020, the company has decided to recognize certain acquired rights and skills equivalents. These new rules should allow a vast majority of Réseau members with less than 1000 hours of training and who are currently in active practice to maintain their status as Canada Life accredited service providers. Here are the two options available to you:
If you meet one of the following options, you will keep your recognition as a Canada Life accredited service provider. However, to maintain your recognition over the long term, you will need to complete continuing education training at the rate of 25 hours every three years.
If you did not graduate before April 1, 2020, you must have 1000 hours of training in order to be recognized as a service provider accredited by Canada Life. You will also need to complete 25 hours of continuing education every three years.
* Note that the Réseau can recognize certain hours from college or university training to help you reach the 1000 hours of training. To do this, we invite you to send us your diplomas and transcripts at email@example.com so we can analyze them. Allow 15 working days for the analysis of your file.
Contrary to what Canada Life had hinted at in the fall of 2019, all massage therapists, whether they have 1000 hours of training or not, will have to complete a minimum of continuing education hours over the long term if they want to maintain the recognition of this insurer. The minimum threshold has been set by Canada Life at 25 hours per three-year period.
You can take any training recognized by the Réseau. The training must be in keeping with the field of massage therapy skills. Please note that if the continuing education you wish to complete is not recognized by the Réseau, we have an audit process for the recognition of schools and training, however institutions or instructors themselves must request it. We therefore invite you to forward them the information.
Can I be a member of the Réseau even if I don't have 1000 hours of training?
Yes, you can be a member of the Réseau with less than 1000 hours of training. The Réseau’s eligibility criteria remain the same. You can become a member of the Réseau with professional training in massage therapy of 400 hours that is recognized by the association.
Can I issue insurance receipts if I don't have 1000 hours of training?
Yes, you can still issue insurance receipts if you have less than 1,000 hours of training.
These new requirements pertain only to the Canada Life insurance company, and therefore their insureds. It is important to remember that Canada Life represents less than 10% of the insurance market in Quebec. If your clients are insured with another insurance company, you can give them a receipt even if you do not meet the Canada Life criteria.
Will other insurance companies follow the example of Canada Life?
To date, Canada Life is the only insurer that has indicated its intent to change its criteria.
We have contacted various insurance companies over the past few months and they have not shown any interest in following suit. It is important to understand that Canada Life is an insurance company that covers all of Canada. Their objective was therefore to standardize their requirements. However, the reality in Quebec is different from other provinces. Most insurers in Quebec are aware of the reality of massage therapy in our province. As such, we don’t expect a quick change. However, it is not impossible that some insurance companies may decide to modify their requirements over the medium or long term.
I've heard that The Co-operators and Blue Cross also require 1000 hours of training.
The Co-operators requires 1000 hours of training to reimburse massage therapy treatment in certain insurance plans only. We have no further information at this time.
Medavie Blue Cross has required 1000 hours of training for 10 years in massage therapy for veterans only.