2018 Federal Budget - Health-Related Announcements


On February 27, 2018, the Minister of Finance Bill Morneau tabled his government’s third budget in the House of Commons.

The health-related announcements focused on five main areas:

  1. Addressing the opioid crisis
  2. Federal Tobacco Control Strategy
  3. Public education for cannabis
  4. Supporting people living with dementia and their caregivers
  5. Supporting Canadian families affected by autism spectrum disorder

Other health-related announcements touched on national pharmacare, indigenous health, seniors, research, violence against women, and big data.

There are several areas within the federal budget spending on healthcare in which Registered Massage Therapists may contribute or be included in future proposed initiatives.

Opioid Crisis

The Budget proposes to provide $231.4 million over five years for additional measures to help address the opioid crisis. Key measures include providing emergency funding to improve access to evidence-based treatment services, launching a public education campaign, improving access to public health data and analysis to better understand the opioid crisis and inform strategies to address it, and expanding the substance use and addictions program to develop innovative approaches to treatment and prevention.

While the focus is on addiction treatment, there is an opportunity for RMTs to potentially contribute to proposed public health campaigns outlining the various non-drug treatments, including massage therapy, that can be a viable alternative for opioids.

Supporting people living with dementia and their caregivers

The Budget proposes to provide $20 million over five years for support community-based projects that address the challenges of dementia. Projects could include programs that provide mental health supports and information about self-care for family caregivers, or initiatives that help Canadians locate resources in their communities quickly, including information about best practices for providing care for people living with dementia.

Massage therapy has been shown to have some positive effects for patients with certain types of dementia and can also be an important treatment for caregivers.

Supporting Canadian families affected by autism spectrum disorder

The Budget proposes to provide $20 million over five years to support the needs of Canadians experiencing autism spectrum disorder and their families. The initiatives will include a resource network and local programming for families across the country. The community-based projects will support innovative program models, help reduce stigma, and support the integration of health, social and educational programs to better serve the complex needs of families.

Massage therapy can be beneficial to people with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and expanding upon our earlier work with Autism Ontario to ensure that Registered Massage Therapists are included in their directory of health professionals, there is an opportunity to be part of the valuable resource network for people with ASDs.

Seniors Pilot Project

The Budget proposes to provide $75 million to support the Healthy Seniors Pilot Project in New Brunswick. This project will support a range of research initiatives to examine how governments can better support seniors in their home, communities and care facilities. This project will help to better understand the gendered impacts of an aging population, improve the quality of life for our senior citizens, and help lay the groundwork for the dissemination of best practices in supporting healthy aging for all Canadians.

The RMTAO, along with the Canadian Massage Therapist Alliance (CMTA), will provide support to the massage therapy profession in New Brunswick to seek inclusion in this initiative.

The RMTAO, through our leadership role on the Canadian Massage Therapist Alliance (CMTA) will work with our fellow members of Organizations for Health Action (HEAL)  to ensure that massage therapists and other health professionals are included within these budget priorities.