Community Acupuncture in Quebec: the Struggle for AcuPop!

  • Here we have a governmental institution called Ordre des Acupuncteurs du Québec (OAQ) who's role is to protect the public from the potential danger of the practice of acupuncture. In the article, we will point out the reasons for that and the ways we think to go around it. A big part of what makes us different here in Quebec, is that we speak french. It may sounds frivolous but it's not, this creates a barrier. It means that the only acupuncture school is french, and if you want to learn acupuncture in our province you need to know french well, very well. It also means that most of our information comes from french sources, manly from France’s publications. France have great researchers such as Claude Larre and Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallée. In school we reference french translations of Maciocia, and people know Deadman and others.

      • So we are cut off in a way from the rest of America. Here, few acupuncturists know about the concept of Community Acupuncture, and from the few who know and are interested in the concept don't dare to go against the OAQ and the bylaws that bound us to them. But let's now get into a part of history that made what acupuncture is what it is in Quebec today.

          • Acupuncture emerged in Quebec around the same time acupuncture caught the eye of the medical realm in the US following Nixon's visit to China. In the 60's a man called Oscar Wexu started to train acupuncturists in Quebec. In 1972, the Acupuncture Association of Quebec is created, and other schools are opening their doors. The following year, a law meant to promulgate the medical profession was passed. So from 1973 till 1986, many acupuncturists are brought to justice by the Professional Corporation of Medical Doctors of Quebec for illegal practice of medicine. In 86 a understanding was brought to terms between different governmental agencies and acupuncturists, getting the profession of acupuncture to be regulated. Also at that time, all private acupuncture schools are closed and a unique school is established in Montreal within the governmental education system. The Collège de Rosemont still exists today, the great advantage of this is that we can go trough acupuncture school at a very low cost, around 200$ per year for 3 years, and have access to generous governmental grants. Few prerequisites are demanded making it widely accessible to all sorts of people. It is at a technical level and so the school has to compose with a very short time line to give a massive amount of information. Many of us would like to see the program given at a university level.

              • Created in 1995, the Ordre des Acupuncteurs du Québec (OAQ), as the 43 other professional ''Ordre'' in Quebec, the mission is to protect the public by controlling access to the profession and by regulating the profession. A great advantage for us acupuncturists is that the OAQ will assure a high quality of practice trough the control of the acupuncture school and continued education, also trough the existing bylaws and safety protocols. Most of all, it gives our profession a governmental recognition which, we hope, will allow us to practice along side allopathic doctors in Hospitals.

                  • The OAQ have their own vision of what is Community Acupuncture, it implies exterior funding and proof of poverty…. This does not correspond to what we envision our selves and from their own confession their model is hard to sustain. The word ''community'' being already taken here in Quebec, we chose to call it Folk Acupuncture, in french it is Acupuncture Populaire or in short Acupop !!! Which sound great ! Every one is liking it. It just makes it complicated to talk about it since when I refer to Community Acupuncture I am referring to the WCA model, and when we apply it to what we want to be doing here in Quebec we say Acupop….

                      • As I was mentioning earlier, we are a few acupuncturists who know about Community Acupuncture and who would like to open such clinics in Montreal. In our cases, we are confronted by the OAQ who says that Community Acupuncture goes against their bylaws. This is because the whole structure that has been developed to control our profession has been in the perspective of a one on one practice. Community Acupuncture does not fit in this idea of an ideal practice. And so, we are seen like a menace, those who go against the establishment, we are unwelcome. They are against Community Acupuncture for mainly 3 reasons:

                          • 1- Unfair concurrence, because of unusually low prices 2- The treatments would not be optimal 3- The loss of confidentiality of patients

                              • I have sifted trough the OAQ bylaws, the only aspect that is really problematic is the lack of privacy of a community setting. The way to go around it is to have the intake in a separate room with closed door. Honestly, the future is uncertain, and ultimately, our guess, is that this whole story will be settled in court. We are determined to go ahead with this project, for now we are worried about the cost.

                                  • Our general feeling is that Community Acupuncture is acupuncture and that there is nothing illegal about it. If we where to negotiate an understanding this may take years before we get anywhere, we know they are not interested in having this type of acupuncture on their territory. For now, our solution is to go along and create a Community Acupuncture clinic anyways. We would like to make it as big as possible. Invite a handful of politicians to our grand opening and have articles talking about this new practice in our local papers and on the radio airways. Once that is done it will be hard for the OAQ to ask us to pull back. How could they planly say no to such a humanitarian cause and a awesome new way of practicing making acupuncture available to the masses. In the case of an eventual persuit to court, we are hoping that the medias will play in our favor ….

                                      • So broadly, this is what is happening in Quebec. We will be hosting a POCA 101 course over the summer 2014. And we are trying real hard to make this new model known to the bulk of acupuncturists who work in our province. If you would like to visit our clinic in Montreal or want to give me some feedback please write to : I will be happy to write back.

                                          • Also I want to give a great thanks to all the people who are behind POCA. You punks rock !!!!

Author: POCAGuestBlog

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  1. Simon, I admire your courage in going ahead and opening a community acupuncture clinic given the OAQ situation in your area. Good luck in your work.

    Re “loss of privacy” in a CA clinic, this has been discussed in the forums on this site. Having a private room for intakes is 1 answer. The ‘whisper zone’ in CA clinics, w/ music playing to drown out hushed voices (and create a relaxing atmosphere), solves this issue of privacy.

  2. Folk acupuncture & acupop, what awesome terms!! More power to you, sounds like you guys are facing a lot of the same criticisms we hear about in the US but it’s backed up by laws, very daunting! I look forward to hearing about your success!

  3. Dear Simon–

    we are so happy you’ve found POCA and we are proud to support you! Looking forward to meeting you in person. Bon courage!


  4. In the past few days I’ve been contacted by some folks in California who are expressing these same concerns about Community Acupuncture clinics. I fear they are considering introducing regulations which would make Community Acupuncture difficult. We need to be vigilant. (They also explained that the prices of Community Acupuncture clinics are driving down their insurance reimbursement rates, which I imagine is what they really care about. It is crazy reasoning — we must make people pay more, so that the insurance company will pay me more. How caring.)

  5. Indeed, it wouldn’t surprise me at all that the current situation in Quebec won’t attempt to export itself to different states in the US.

    Interesting isn’t it that each of their three concerns are canards at worst or unfortunate ignorance easily demonstrated to be false at best.

    Strength to you and your CA colleagues in Quebec. I’m also looking forward to rolling up our sleeves with you soon.

  6. I have been wanting to visit Montreal since I moved to the North East. Now I have even more of a reason for a north bound road trip.

    are there any places that make vegetarian poutine?

  7. Great to hear from you! I too wonder if the governing body in BC might get similar ideas, but for now things have been quiet and we have been building a huge patient base that would back up what we are doing and could easily refute all the 3 claims they are making. In regards to confidentiality, even though we give initial intake out side of the treatment room, all ongoing treatment check-ins are chair-side. Personally I would think that a patient willingly participating is consent.

  8. Thanks so much for sharing your experience so far, and I hope you will keep us updated. Very inspirational! I admire your determination!

  9. Wow. Keep up the good, hard work. The confidentiality complaint is always a joke… check out chemo rooms, dialysis rooms, folks sitting around in expensive “recliners” getting tx. How about shared rooms in hospitals…
    We are here for your support!

  10. Thank’s for all your comments, it is very inspirational : )
    I will be writing soon about the experience, this is obviously real exciting for us !!! For those who would like to visit us in Montreal or would like to send patients our way here is our contact …
    or by phone 514-226-7557 .

    We are still working on the web site, should be up in a couple of weeks …sorry

    Their is real resistance towards what we are providing, people in power don’t like sharing and Community Acupuncture is taking up lots of space rapidly in the health care system/business. But I am not worried because we are part of the futur. We are part of the solution. It makes me feel great to write this !!!!

    Thank’s again for your great support !!!