On October 15, 2019, a Halifax Acupuncturist was charged with 3 counts of sexual assault.
See article here: https://www.cbc.ca/amp/1.5321675
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine is an unregulated profession in Nova Scotia. Currently, BC, AB, QC, ON & NL all require a provincial acupuncture and/or an acupuncture and Oriental medicine examination to be written in order to legally practice. In Nova Scotia however, with any type of education, or lack thereof, may offer the service of ‘acupuncture’ or ‘Oriental medicine’ to the public.
While there have been great strides in cross-Canada regulation due to the adoption of the Pan-Canadian exam, it is imperative that future acupuncture patients do their homework before seeing a practitioner. Questions such as where the practitioner went to school, if their school was located in a regulated province, and if the practitioner has written and passed an examination are some good indicators of a competent and safe practitioner.
Typically, Oriental medicine colleges in regulated provinces have to adhere to providing an education in line with the rigorous testing put forth by regulating bodies. After passing examinations, regulated provinces require practitioners to carry Error & Omissions insurance, liability insurance, and acquire yearly Continuing Education Units in order to remain registered.
In the United States, there is one national organization that regulates acupuncture and Oriental medicine in 46 states, plus the District of Columbia as well as some states requiring their own licensing process. Clearly, it would be in the public and profession’s best interest to have a similar framework for all provinces and territories in Canada. We, as a country, are slowly gaining ground, however. For example in 2014, the late Jim Flaherty announced that acupuncture and naturopathic services to be GST/HST exempt.
In 1992, a small group of Nova Scotia acupuncturists met with the purpose of promoting acupuncture, educating the public, and ensuring that everyone would have access to ethical and fully qualified professionals. Today, the Nova Scotia Association of Acupuncturists (NSAA) is 32 members strong.
The NSAA goals include:
1. Uphold the highest professional ethics and standards for the protection, benefit and health of the public
2. Play a constructive role in the licensure and continuing education process for acupuncturists within the provincial framework
3. To establish and constantly review a written Code of Ethical Conduct for registered practitioners
The NSAA does this through its membership requirements. All applicants must:
1. Be a qualified graduate from a recognized full-time school program of at least 3 years totalling a minimum of 1900 hours
2. Have written and passed either the Pan-Canadian examination or NCCAOM (USA) examination
3. Hold E&O and liability insurance
4. Acknowledge the NSAA Constitution & By-Laws agreement
5. Partake in 30 Continuing Education Units every two years in categories such as acupuncture, Oriental medicine, biomedicine and ethics
We remain proud of the NSAA. As an entire association it was of great shock and sadness to hear that a Halifax acupuncturist had been arrested on 3 counts of sexual assault. We will continue to uphold the highest standards by asking our entire membership to review our written Code of Ethical Conduct, and continue to maintain our peer review system.
Once again, at this time where acupuncture and Oriental medicine is an unregulated profession, it is very important for the public seeking an acupuncturist to do their research. The most important goal of the NSAA is the protection of the public.