B.C. government criticized over inclusion of massage therapy under HST

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      Advocates for multiple sclerosis patients are raising opposition to B.C.’s harmonized sales tax, saying it will make some services to treat the neurological disease less affordable.

      New Democrat health critic Adrian Dix criticized the B.C. government’s support for the HST, which could potentially increase the cost of massage therapy when the tax goes into full effect July 1.

      “The principle of it is just wrong. It’s wrong for a provincial government to approve something under the Health Professions Act, and something that’s absolutely needed for many people with chronic diseases, and charge this tax,” Dix told reporters today (June 7).

      The Opposition MLA for Vancouver-Kingsway said the cost for an average $88 hour-long massage therapy session is set to rise by around $6 because the service will be subject to an additional seven percent in tax.

      Asked for comment, the Ministry of Health deferred to representatives from the Ministry of Finance, who could not be immediately reached this afternoon.

      The NDP’s criticism was underscored by comments from two Vancouver women diagnosed with multiple sclerosis who also spoke to reporters during a press conference held in a downtown Vancouver NDP office.

      Barbara Claridge, a 63-year-old retiree who faces mobility challenges because of the chronic illness, said the massage therapy she receives on a roughly monthly basis improves her quality of life.

      “There’s generally comfort around moving and I have a great deal more fluidity to how my limbs move,” said Claridge, who has coverage for $7 of each $95 session she attends.

      Stephanie Lett, 56, said the massage treatment she receives on a monthly basis helps relieve lower body pain. She also expressed concern about the extra cost for the service expected under the HST.

      “This additional charge is a hardship,” said Lett, who is on long-term disability and is covered for less than a third of each $90 session she attends.



      not just massages

      Jun 7, 2010 at 2:22pm

      It's a hardship for all of us that HST will increase the cost of many things that improve quality of life as much or more than massages do. Heating, electricity, telephones, swimming/recreation centre fees, travel, theatre, art galleries, skiing, bikes, vitamins, chocolate, and dozens of other things are increasing July 1. All to make BC the best place on earth (for big business).


      Jun 7, 2010 at 8:37pm

      maybe we could get a massage theraspist to give Gordy and Collin a head rub to smartten them up. Don't think it would work though.

      Nancy Brown

      Jun 9, 2010 at 5:54pm

      I strongly believe massage therapy by RMTs should be exempt from the HST, especially since massage therapy can be preventative for future more costly illnesses, as it has a beneficial effect on the whole body.
      People pay enough already, they don't need to pay tax. Also as soon as one more province forms a regulatory body for massage therapy RMTs won't have to charge any tax. We don't sell anything it is a hands on service. It's ridiculous we even have to pay GST. Physios and doctors don't.
      Make RMT treatments exempt for HST for all citizens.

      Shobhna Kapoor

      Jun 11, 2010 at 8:15pm

      As a registered massage therapist I agree with Ms. Brown.


      Jun 24, 2010 at 11:04pm

      Nancy Brown
      I agree with your letter but am sceptical about the idea of getting rid of tax on massage therapy if one more province becomes regulated. It used to be 4 provinces, and when 4 provinces became regulated they just increased the amount to 5 provinces, the federal government just keep moving the goal posts. If the government had any ethics or cared about sick people they could simply move it back to 4 provinces and that would remove GST and the HST from Registered Massage therapy. I do not see that happening with this government as they are presently trying their utmost to find ever more items to tax, not remove any.