Nova Scotia

Atlantic massage therapists hope to make services exempt from taxes

Massage therapists in Atlantic Canada are part of a national effort to have taxes removed from massage services.

Physiotherapists, chiropractors, osteopaths already exempt from charging HST

A woman lying on her stomach with someone touching her back.
Massage therapists in Atlantic Canada are part of a national push to have taxes removed from massage services. (Prostock-studio/Shutterstock)

Massage therapists in Atlantic Canada are among those applying to the federal government to have taxes removed from massage services. 

The Canadian Massage Therapy Association made a formal application to the federal government in 2022 after a fifth province, Prince Edward Island, officially regulated its massage therapy industry. But the application was not included in the 2023 federal budget.

It's the association's position that massage therapy lowers stress, increases immune function and can help with mental health issues.

Now, the group — a national association of nine provincial massage therapy organizations, including those in all four Atlantic provinces — is once again asking the federal finance minister to consider the exemption. They intend to submit a petition to government later this year.

"We're still in a health-care crisis [and] having that other tier of health care more affordable and more accessible, we're looking at that as only being beneficial," said Amy-Lynne Graves, the national association's vice-chair and Nova Scotia's representative.

Graves said in an interview that the exemption from taxes can mean better access to services for clients.

"We're hoping to pass that savings onto the consumer, to those massage therapy patients, so that they can afford it, whether it is out of pocket or their benefits … [lasting] longer."

In a statement, the federal Finance Department said it asked Canadians this winter to provide their thoughts on what should be included in this year's budget. It said it is reviewing pre-budget submissions.

A blonde woman is seeing wearing a pair of black glasses.
Amy-Lynne Graves is the Canadian Massage Therapy Association's vice-chair. (CBC News)

In Atlantic Canada, the HST rate is 15 per cent, which includes five per cent GST and 10 per cent provincial sales tax.

Being exempt from the tax would mean a person with an average of $500 a year of insurance coverage for massages could get more appointments without having to pay out of pocket, Graves said.

"If we can use massage therapy to help with these physical ailments, as well as these mental health conditions, or at least the physical symptoms associated with it, then it can help to alleviate some of the burden that we're seeing in the health-care crisis," Graves said.

One of the standards for a tax exemption was having regulated massage industries in five provinces, which became a reality in Canada in 2019 with the regulation of massage services on P.E.I., according to Stacey MacLeod, the president of the P.E.I. Massage Therapy Association.

Association-wide effort

MacLeod said in an interview it has long been a goal of the P.E.I. association to have a legislative council to oversee massage services in the province. She added that seeking tax exemption for the industry has been an association-wide effort.

"In the background, we were always kind of working toward it so that we had all our little ducks in a row," MacLeod said. "When the fifth province became regulated, we were like, 'OK, now we can go and put our application in to get on that list.'"

Physiotherapists, chiropractors and osteopaths, among others, are already exempt from having to charge HST. 

Graves said the hope is to achieve their tax-exempt status so that massage therapy services are included in the next federal budget.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Danielle Edwards is a reporter with CBC Nova Scotia. She has previously worked at The Canadian Press in Halifax and the Globe and Mail in Toronto covering a variety of topics. You can reach her at danielle.edwards@cbc.ca

With files from Victoria Walton

CBC Nova Scotia

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

Get the latest top stories from across Nova Scotia in your inbox every weekday.

...

The next issue of CBC Nova Scotia newsletter will soon be in your inbox.

Discover all CBC newsletters in the Subscription Centre.opens new window

now