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Massage therapists get short end of HST stick

Massage therapists have been rubbed the wrong way by the province's HST scheme.

By the time the new tax rolls around in July 2010, the Massage Therapists Association of B.C. will be the only health-care provider not exempt from the tax.

"It'll have a significant effect on therapists and their patients," said association executive director Brenda Locke. "We don't have any kind of offsets so the tax will be passed down to the patients."

That means instead of paying $89.25 for a typical one-hour massage, pain sufferers will be on the hook for $95.20.

"We're trying to talk with the government to do something about this," Locke said.

Unfortunately, the problem facing therapists goes beyond the province's borders.

B.C. is just one of three provinces that has a regulatory body for massage therapists.

To earn federal tax exemption, regulatory bodies need to be established in at least five provinces.

That mean's B.C.'s therapists - who are all registered primary health care providers - could be bounced around more than a ping-pong ball as they lobby both levels of government.

"It's a complicated situation," Locke said.

Matt Kieltyka reports for Vancouver 24 hours

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