Concurrently ‘Traditional’ and ‘Complementary’: The Hybrid Professions of Chinese Medicine and Homeopathy in Ontario, Canada

Friday, 20 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Nadine IJAZ, University of Toronto, Canada
Heather BOON, University of Toronto, Canada
In 2013 and 2014, the province of Ontario, Canada granted self-regulatory status to the professions of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and homeopathy respectively. TCM practitioners have been elsewhere regulated in the system’s geographies of origin (China and Hong Kong), as well as in diaspora settings (Canada, the United States and Australia). Although several nations limit the practice of homeopathy (which originated in Germany) to medical doctors, lay homeopaths have been regulated in India, Pakistan and South Africa, where the practice has been widely indigenized. Of all applicants for TCM professional registration in Ontario in the three years after regulation, over one-third were reported to have been trained in an East Asian country (primarily China). Similarly, one-quarter of all newly registered homeopaths in 2014 and 2015 had been trained in Southern Asia (primarily India). No other regulated Ontario profession has to date reported such high levels of internationally-trained practitioners within its membership. With reference to historical literature surrounding the two occupations, a range of public documents, and interviews with practitioners from the two groups (in progress), we compare, contrast and theorize the underlying hybridities evident in Ontario’s new TCM and homeopathy professions. Each profession, we find, is differentially conceptualized as ‘traditional’ or ‘complementary’ medicine by sub-populations within. Across these ethnically-shaped divides, distinct views on biomedical science and the ‘value’ of regulation are particularly evident. We furthermore find that TCM and homeopathic regulators each created distinct policy responses to their specific occupational demographics with a similar aim of broad practitioner inclusion. Our analysis suggests a need to reconceptualize ‘integrative medicine,’ an increasingly important health systems movement in multiculturalist states, to be more culturally-inclusive.