One word could make all the difference between open and closed for Alberta health professionals

CALGARY — Some health care professionals say they’re feeling left behind by the latest round of provincial restrictions.

A line has been drawn in the sand that allows regulated professions to continue to work and has shut down professions that aren’t regulated in the province.

But after a single lockdown exemption was granted, other Albertans believe they should also be deemed essential.

Athletic therapists are leading that charge.

“We are essential workers and deserve to be back at work,” certified athletic therapist Andrea Dowd told CTV News.

Dowd is one of dozens upset that she’s had to temporarily stop practicing.

“It was kind of a surprise to us,” she said. “Why does a chiropractor or physiotherapist get to work and we don’t? We’re allied health care professionals and essential workers.”

Athletic therapists diagnose and rehabilitate all types of injuries using a sports-medicine-based approach. The deciding difference for workers lies in a single word: regulated.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw says the province made the closure decision “based on which practitioners were part of a regulated college or regulated health professionals.”

But Dowd argues athletic therapists are self-regulated and follow similar standards other professions do.

Adding to her argument, an Alberta exemption has been granted for massage therapists, who are not regulated.

“Now they’ve opened up a gray area,” Dowd said. “So it’s kind of like they’re better than us in a way.”

She’s been writing to her MLA advocating for a rethink.

Other provinces do allow the work.

Also feeling left behind: some practicing manual osteopaths.

“I don’t know if there’s anything more that we could be doing,” Jackie Caione with the Alberta Association of Osteopathic Manual Therapists said. “We’re following the health directives exactly the same as all of those regulated professions.”

Like athletic therapy, manual osteopathy isn’t regulated.

But Caione says most practicing staff have received years of education and training and are suited to stay open. Because they perform treatment ranging from massage to chiropractic work, they feel they should also be considered essential.

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