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The word "Chiropractic" is taken from Greek, meaning, "Done by Hand". Many cultures have used some form of physical manipulation in healing, including the Ancient Egyptians, Classical Greeks, Amerindians, Chinese, and Africans. Bonesetting was a form of spinal manipulation widely used by medical professionals in 19th century England.

The history of chiropractic in Canada demonstrates the struggle faced by the new profession in gaining legitimacy, and the manner in which chiropractic has become Canada's third largest primary health care provider. The chiropractic profession received mention in the Royal Commission on Medical Education begun in 1915. In its final report two years later, the Commission concluded that there was value in the physical methods of care such as chiropractic; however, it recommended that chiropractic should become part of general medical training, not a separate profession. In 1921, the Ontario Medical Association claimed that chiropractic negatively influenced science, and should not be given consideration under law.

Before World War II (1939-1945), Canadians were required to study chiropractic in the United States. High tuition and living costs prevented access to chiropractic for many Canadians. In January 1943, chiropractors from all provinces gathered in Ottawa to create one sociopolitical association for the promotion of the profession and public health. The Dominion Council of Canadian Chiropractors was formed, later to become the Canadian Chiropractic Association in 1953.

One mandate of the newly formed Dominion Council of Canadian Chiropractors was to create a Canadian chiropractic college to serve as a focal point in education, research, co-operation and professional growth. The opening of the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC) on September 18, 1945 was an important moment in the history of Canadian chiropractic. At the time of the CMCC's founding, many chiropractic colleges only taught the techniques and manipulations associated with specific chiropractic schools of thought. The CMCC adopted a policy to teach all acceptable adjustive techniques and procedures and avoided adopting one specific school of thought. This inclusive approach was unique in 1945, and served as a model for the inclusive approach adopted by the majority of chiropractic colleges of today. The CMCC quickly gained an international reputation for excellence, and has graduated students from all Canadian provinces, the US, Europe, South Africa, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.

History of Chiropractic
Daniel David Palmer
Bartlett Joshua Palmer
Mr. Harvey Lillard

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Between 1962 and 1973, a series of public commissions into chiropractic validated the importance of the profession and increased public recognition of its benefits. The 1961 Royal Commission on Health Services, the 1966 Ontario Committee on Healing Arts, and the 1973 Ontario Council of Health's Task Force on Chiropractic all confirmed the benefits, safety, and efficacy of chiropractic care in Ontario.

The chiropractic profession has surpassed many hurdles in the recent past on its way to being Canada's third largest primary care profession after medicine and dentistry. In 1970, chiropractic was added to the Ontario Health Insurance Plan for partial coverage without the referral from a Physician. More recently, chiropractors were finally given the right to use the title, "Doctor" and were given full rights to diagnose, after a 66 year struggle.

The struggle to increase patient access to chiropractic services through full funding under OHIP is not complete, despite a large amount of scholarly evidence indicating the efficacy and cost-effective nature of chiropractic treatment. In 1993, the Manga Report, a study funded by the Ontario Government, concluded that chiropractic is the most effective treatment for lower back pain, in terms of efficacy, patient satisfaction, and cost. The Ontario government continues to study the Manga Report.