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Dear Important Stakeholders:

RE: Acupuncture and the College & Association of Acupuncturists of Alberta

Please also visit our FAQ section.

As per the Government Organization Act, Schedule 7.1, acupuncture is a restricted activity. Performing acupuncture without appropriate authorization is a breach of the Government Organization Act.

The profession of acupuncture has been regulated in Alberta since 1988 under the Health Disciplines Act and the Acupuncture Regulation. Effective January 1, 2011, the College and Association of Acupuncturists of Alberta (the “CAAA”) was designated by the Minister of Health to regulate the acupuncture profession in public interest. The CAAA is mandated to serve the public interest and support the acupuncture profession by setting high standards of practice, education, competence and ethical conduct.

Three major instruments for the CAAA to meet its mandate are: developing a fair and defensible registration examination; setting educational standards; and dealing with complaints.

The Alberta Acupuncture Registration Examination (the AARE) helps ensure that applicants for registration meet the entry-level standards to practise in Alberta. Currently, the AARE consists of five components:

  1. Pan-Canadian Written Examination
  2. Pan-Canadian Clinical Case-study Examination
  3. Safety and Jurisprudence Examination
  4. Modalities Examination
  5. Acupuncture Points Examination

Education is the very cornerstone and foundation upon which a profession is built. The CAAA has re-defined the Minimum Standards for Acupuncture Education. This document recommends the admission requirements for potentially completing an acupuncture program successfully; the core curriculum that a student must complete; instructor qualifications; and requirements for program administration and management. This document will help prospective students make an informed decision before they are enrolled into an approved program, and help the public understand the breadth and depth of the knowledge and skills required for an acupuncturist. For detailed information, please refer to the Minimum Standards for Acupuncture Education document under the Education section.

The CAAA is also responsible to deal with complaints against an acupuncturist. The Health Disciplines Act stipulates the definition of complaints and the procedures to deal with complaints.

1. Definition of complaint According to the Health Disciplines Act, section 27, complaint means a complaint made in writing and signed by the person making it about the conduct, skill, judgment or fitness to practice of a registered member. Section 28 further specifies that a complaint shall be accompanied with the complainant’s mailing address.

2. Procedures to deal with complaints

  1. As per the Health Disciplines Act, section 29, on receipt of a complaint, the registrar shall conduct or appoint a preliminary investigator to conduct a preliminary investigation regarding the registered member.
  2. In the absence of a complaint, if the registrar has evidence showing that the conduct, skill, judgment or fitness to practise of a registered member poses a significant risk to the public, the registrar may, after consultation with the Director, conduct or appoint a preliminary investigator to conduct a preliminary investigation regarding the registered member.
  3. As per the Health Disciplines Act, section 30, the registrar or the chair of the Conduct and Competency Committee, on receipt of a report by the preliminary investigator, shall
    1. direct that no further action be taken, if in the opinion of the registrar or the chair,
      1. the complaint is frivolous or vexatious, or
      2. there is insufficient evidence of unskilled practice or professional misconduct,

      or

    2. refer the matter under investigation in writing to the committee.
  4. If the registrar serves a notice on the complainant that no further action will be taken, the complainant has the right to make a request in writing, within 30 days after receipt of the notice, for a review of that decision by the Conduct and Competency Committee.
  5. On receiving a request for a review, the Conduct and Competency Committee shall invite the complainant and the investigated person to attend before the committee and make representations to it. Then the committee
    1. shall determine
      1. Whether the complaint is frivolous or vexatious, or
      2. Whether there is sufficient evidence of unskilled practice or professional misconduct to warrant the matter under investigation being the subject of a hearing, and
    2. shall notify the complainant and the investigated person in writing of its decision and the reasons for its decision.
  6. Hearing before the Conduct and Competency Committee As per the Health Disciplines Act, section 33, a hearing shall be commenced not more than 90 days after the date on which the matter is referred to the Conduct and Competency Committee or the determination that a hearing should be held is made.
  7. Order of Committee
    If a committee finds that the conduct of an investigated person constitutes unskilled practice of the designated health discipline or professional misconduct, or both, the committee may make orders in accordance with the Health Disciplines Act, section 42.
  8. Appeal to the Health Disciplines Board
    An investigated person or the complainant, if any, may appeal a finding or an order, or both, of the committee to the Board by notice in writing.
  9. Decision of Board
    The Board, not more than 90 days, after the conclusion of all proceedings before it, shall

    1. make any findings or order that, in its opinion, ought to have been made by the committee,
    2. quash, confirm or vary the finding or order of the committee or substitute or make a finding or order of its own, or
    3. refer the matter back to the committee for further consideration in accordance with any direction that the Board may make.
  10. Appeal to the Court of Appeal
    1. Any of the following may appeal a decision of the Board to the Court of Appeal:
      1. the investigated person;
      2. the complainant, if any;
      3. if the designated health discipline is governed by a health discipline association, the governing body of that association;
      4. if the designated health discipline is governed by a Committee, the chair of that Committee.
    2. The appeal to the Court of Appeal shall be founded on the record of the proceedings before the Board and the decision of the Board.
  11. Powers of Court
    The Court of Appeal on hearing an appeal may

    1. make any finding or order that, in its opinion, ought to have been made,
    2. quash, confirm or vary the decision of the Board or any part of it,
    3. refer the matter back to the Board for further consideration in accordance with any direction of the Court, or
    4. direct that a trial of any mixed questions of law and fact related to a finding or order, or both, of the Board be held before the Court of Queen’s Bench.

To conclude, as the regulatory body, our vision is to protect public interests through continuously improving the standards of practice, competency, education and ethical conduct of our profession. The CAAA is willing to collaborate with all stakeholders in efforts to move the profession forward.

If you have any questions or need further information, please contact the CAAA office by phone at 780-466-7787 or by email at admin@acupuncturealberta.ca .

Sincerely,
College and Association of Acupuncturists of Alberta
Address: #201, 9612 – 51 Ave. NW, Edmonton, AB T6E 5A6