Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Regulation in Canada
Canada is a country situated in North America above the United States and has a population of about 33 million people. Canada has 10 provinces and 3 territories, although 86% of the population resides in 4 provinces; Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta.
Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine regulation unfortunately are not nationwide in Canada; however, there are currently five provinces established by provincial/territorial law with a mandate to protect the public’s right to safe, competent and ethical services offered by registered TCM Practitioners, TCM Acupuncturists, and/or TCM Herbalists who are members of the regulatory bodies. Currently, British Columbia and Ontario regulate both TCM Practitioners and Acupuncturists. Alberta, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador regulate Acupuncturists only.
The legislation in each province differs with the following as protected titles within some provinces. Here is an example from the province of British Columbia:
- Registered Acupuncturist (R.Ac.) – Acupuncture only- 3 yrs. program
- Registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner (R.TCM.P) – combined acupuncture and herbology with restrictions -4 yrs. program
- Doctor of TCM (Dr. TCM) -combined acupuncture and herbology without restrictions – 5 yrs. program
In order to practice as a R.Ac or Registered Acupuncturist (synonymous with L.Ac in the United States) or any other protected title in one of those five provinces, an individual must successfully complete the Pan-Canadian Written and Clinical Case-Study Examinations issued across all five provinces by the Canadian Alliance of Regulatory Bodies of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists (CARB-TCMPA). CARB-TCMPA is the national organization of provincial and territorial regulatory bodies that govern and monitor the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Practitioners, Acupuncturists and/or Herbalists. Additional examinations such as safety or jurisprudence program may be required depending on the province.
The prerequisites to write the Pan-Canadian examinations vary slightly from province to province. For eligible criteria to write the exam in each province, please refer to the examination application package information provided on the website of its provincial regulatory College (links found below). In general:
- R.Ac. or R.TCM.H graduation from a traditional Chinese medicine program generally comprised of at least a minimum of 1900 hours including between 450 and 600 hours of practical clinical training completed in a minimum of 3 academic years to write the exams.
- R.TCM.P exams require completion of a 2600 hours of traditional Chinese medicine program with at least 650 hours of practical clinical training.
- Dr.TCM exams require completion of a 3,250 hours traditional Chinese medicine program including a minimum of 1,050 hours of clinical instruction of which 825 hours must be supervised practice.
Once an individual has successfully completed all examinations required in their province, they may apply to their provincial regulatory college for registration under the protected title within their province. This registration process generally includes a reference check and a criminal record check to ensure only ethical individuals may practice. If the individual can satisfy all the requirements for registration in their province, the regulatory college will grant them a license to practice under their protected title in their province. Some provinces have reciprocity agreements, and allow practitioners from other regulated provinces to transfer their license over to another province to practice but each practitioner can only be licensed in one province at a time.
In order to maintain a practitioner’s registration under their protected title, practitioners must be members of their regulatory college which include annual dues, and every two years must see a minimum of 200 patient appointments and complete 50 hours of continuing education. Ongoing criminal record checks are also conducted every so often.
Regulatory Colleges Which Regulate the Practice of Acupuncture and TCM (by province)
Find Registered Acupuncturists/TCM Practitioners (in regulated provinces)
Find Acupuncturists/TCM Practitioners in Other Provinces (Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and PEI)