N.B. massage students go to court over tough test

Students taking an exam. Stock photo by Getty Images

How far would you go to avoid taking a tough test?

Rather than get sick notes or concoct some fake emergency, a group of New Brunswick students tried a novel, but serious attempt: get a court injunction.

The 53 massage-therapy students got the disappointing news from the Court of Queens Bench last week that, no matter how hard or unfair their licensing exam may seem, it’s still a legit requirement.

And it’s pretty hard: last year, 47 out of 48 students failed.

The students argued the test — introduced just last year — was a retroactive requirement that threatened their professional status and ability to gain future work.

The original court filings accuse the province’s College of Massage Therapists of acting outside its legal authority by retroactively imposing the test as a professional requirement, thus putting the students in “peril of suspension from the profession” and denying them future work.

The college overhauled the licensing rules in 2013, requiring any new or current students to take the test as a mandatory requirement to professional practice. Any practicing therapists were grandfathered in — a distinction the students said was “arbitrary” and unfair.

"No [Registered Massage Therapist] has ever been expected to face this test," said Kelly Lamrock, the lawyer representing the students. "And when its first time out 98 per cent of people fail it, obviously that raised some issues and my clients wanted the court to hear it."

They said they didn’t have time to prepare, some examiners were too unfamiliar with the test, and even the test fees were illegal. The new rules also prevented them from working until getting their test results, which could take more than six weeks.

Judge Judy Clendening disagreed, saying the students won’t suffer any irreparable harm by taking the exam.

She also accepted the College’s promise to rework the test since a 98-per-cent failure rate is maybe a bit high.

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