How to Start an Alternative and Complementary Healthcare Business in Ontario

Table of Contents

Getting Started
Other resources


Alternative and complementary healthcare includes a wide variety of services. Before opening your business, consider the types of services you will provide.

Some common alternative and complementary healthcare services are:

  • Acupuncture
  • Aromatherapy
  • Chiropractic
  • Homeopathic medicine
  • Massage Therapy
  • Naturopathic medicine
  • Natural Health Products (such as herbal remedies, and traditional medicine)
  • Reflexology
  • Reiki
  • Therapeutic Touch

This guide will give you an overview of the requirements for starting your business.

Getting started

When you start a business there are several things to consider before you can sell your product or service. Most businesses in Ontario need to complete a minimum of three basic steps:

  • Find out what licences and regulations apply to your type of business
  • Choose a business structure and register or incorporate your business
  • Determine if you will need to collect and remit HST

Our business start-up guide will give you more information on these steps and other basic requirements for starting a business in Ontario.

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Starting a Business


Your business may need licences and permits from the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government.

In addition to the information you will find in this guide, you can use the Canada Business Permits and Licences Search, powered by BizPaL, to find licences and regulations that may affect your business. You can also contact us to speak to someone about starting your business.

Contact us:
Permits and licences search

Some common licences, permits and regulations that may apply to starting your business include:

Food and drug regulations

Many alternative and complementary healthcare products, such as alternative medications and chiropractic devices, are regulated by Health Canada through the Food and Drugs Act. Learn more about how the Act may affect your business.

Contact Health Canada:
Health Canada

Some of the most common Health Canada regulations that may apply to your business include:

Therapeutic and cosmetic products

If your services include the use or sale of cosmetics and therapeutic products, including soaps, deodorants and creams, you need to be aware of requirements for manufacturing, labelling, distributing and selling these products.

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Therapeutic and Cosmetic Products

If you will be producing and selling your own alternative or therapeutic cosmetic products, learn more about the ingredient labelling standards.

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Cosmetics Labelling

Natural health product regulations

Find out what is required to manufacture or sell natural health products including:

  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Herbal remedies
  • Homeopathic medicines

Read online:
Natural and Non-prescription Health Products

Medical devices regulations

When you use medical devices in your business, make sure that they are authorized for use in Canada and meet Health Canada’s safety and quality regulations.

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Medical Devices

Health product advertising

You may only advertise drug and health products that have been approved for sale in Canada and your advertisement must be approved.

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Regulatory requirements for advertising

Infection prevention and control

If you will be providing personal services, contact Public Health Ontario for resources on preventing infection.

Read online:
Public Health Ontario - Infection Prevention and Control

Certification and training

You may need formal certification and training to provide alternative and complementary healthcare services. Make sure that you are aware of the requirements that apply to the type of services you plan to offer.

Some alternative healthcare professionals are licensed or registered with a sector-specific college. For information on certification and training, contact the appropriate association for details.

You can find a list of regulatory bodies for the health sector on the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care website.

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Regulated professions

Music licence

When your business uses recorded music, you are responsible for obtaining the right licence(s) for that use. The Copyright Board of Canada works with individual copyright collective societies who provide music licensing. Contact the following two organizations for more information.

Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) Music Licence

SOCAN is a not-for-profit organization that represents the performance rights of music creators and music publishers. They can help you learn about your obligations and obtaining the required licence(s).

Contact SOCAN:
Music license finder for business

Re:Sound Music Licensing Company

Re:Sound is the Canadian not-for-profit organization that represents the performance rights of artists and record companies, and provides the legally required licence(s) for businesses. You can get help determining what licence(s) will be required, what the licensing process will be and how much it will cost.

Contact Re:Sound:

Legal questions

You can contact Pro Bono Ontario’s free legal advice hotline to enquire about getting help with your everyday civil legal needs (no family law or criminal law). The service is generally aimed at those who cannot afford a lawyer.

Note that service is not guaranteed and you will be asked questions as part of the qualifying process, such as the amount of personal income earned by your household, your name, postal code and age range.

Contact Pro Bono Ontario’s Free Legal Advice Hotline:


You can also contact the Law Society of Ontario's Law Society Referral Service if you have legal questions of a business nature. The service may be able to assist you in finding a lawyer or paralegal, based on your needs.

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Law Society Referral Service


Depending on your location and the type of products or services being offered, federal, provincial and/or municipal business taxes may apply.

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Taxation guide

If you sell goods and services in Ontario, you may need a business number to collect and remit the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). Most businesses that make less than $30,000 in any 12-month period are not required to charge HST; however, you can register voluntarily and claim input tax credits. Speak with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for more information.

Contact CRA:
Canada Revenue Agency


Government departments and agencies provide financing such as grants, contributions, subsidies and loan guarantees. Find out what type of government financing may be available for your business. Use the program search tool or browse by type of financing.

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Government grants and financing

Other resources


From day-to-day operations to long-term planning, learn how to manage your business efficiently.


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