I hope none of our politicians are getting any ideas from this . . .
Angry Chinese acupuncturists declare war over bill
Updated Thu. Nov. 23 2006 7:23 PM ET
TORONTO -- Furious Chinese acupuncturists are threatening to mobilize half-a-million people against Ontario's Liberal government over legislation making their profession self-regulating.
The bill, which passed unanimously on Thursday, entrenches "quackery'' and puts the public at risk, critics said.
"Bill 50 discriminates against the Chinese medicine profession and against the Chinese community and is a second head tax,'' said Stephen Liu, co-chairman of the Canadian Society of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture.
"We will fight to the last.''
The reference to the hated tax once imposed on Chinese immigrants indicates the depth of anger over the legislation among many of Ontario's 3,000 practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine.
Critics say they find it offensive that the law allows other groups of health professionals -- such as physiotherapists, massage therapists or chiropractors -- to continue using acupuncture under standards set by their own regulating bodies.
Liu said Chinese acupuncturists opposed to the legislation will call on their patients, their families, friends, relatives and members of their churches -- 500,000 people in all -- to fight the Liberal party in next year's provincial election.
Dr. Stanley Shyu, a Chinese-trained doctor of traditional medicine who has practised in Canada for 32 years, said it's ludicrous to allow others to perform acupuncture without rigorous training.
Doing so waters down a profession that can cure a wide range of ailments when done by properly trained experts, but harms patients when done improperly, he said.
"You don't let laymen stick needles in people and call it acupuncture,'' Shyu said.
"That's called needling.''
Health Minister George Smitherman, who introduced the bill almost a year ago, acknowledged divisions over the legislation.
However, he said there was no reason to stop other medical professionals from performing acupuncture.
"Each of those colleges will be looking to work together in terms of making sure that there is a consensus that the standard is consistent and appropriate,'' Smitherman said.
Proponents say the college that will regulate the profession when it's up and running, likely in about two years, will set high standards, protect the public, and enhance the overall credibility of the profession.
Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia along with close to 50 American states already regulate Chinese medicine.
Critics also railed against the legislation because practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine would no longer be able to prescribe and dispense herbal formulas and compounds.
Naturopaths could get the exclusive right to do so, even though they might have less training.
"Where is the fairness in this?'' said Marylou Lombardi, president of the Ontario Association of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Opposition Leader John Tory said he supported the legislation because it at least imposes a regulatory framework.
"We're hopeful that as the college is set up that some of the issues that have not been adequately addressed might be addressed at that time,'' Tory said.