Patient Access to Physiotherapy or Physical Therapy Services


In Canada, physical therapists are primary care providers. While patients may access physical therapists directly, physical therapy consultation may be initiated by physicians for hospitalized patients or outpatients. In some areas, physiotherapists are part of a primary care team. These teams are composed of doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, chiropractors, occupational therapists, midwives, dieticians, pharmacists, and mental health/addictions professionals. In collaboration with the Canadian Ministry of Health, Primary Care Teams (also known as Family Health Teams) serve to improve patient access, while customizing the team makeup depending on the local community served. “While professional practice is guided by each provider’s regulated scope of practice, it is recognized that the working relationship among the members of the team will also take into account the expertise, preferences and skill set of individual providers. No two teams will function exactly alike. Each, over time, will develop its own character, working relationships and culture”.


Therapist Preparation


Canadian PT students earn a Master of Science in Physiotherapy (MScPT) over two years, including approximately 30 weeks of clinical education at a university that is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Canadian Physiotherapy Academic Programs (ACCPAP).[4]

The Canadian health care system also utilizes Physiotherapist Assistants, who are trained at an accredited career college to support the physiotherapist.[5] The Physiotherapist Assistant curriculum is composed of three academic semesters, plus a sixteen week practicum.



Common Canadian specialty practice include areas such as: Acupuncture, Animal Rehabilitation, Cardiorespiratory, Neuroscience, Oncology, paediatrics, Seniors Health, Women’s Health.[6] Those who plan to serve in an academic or research capacity may pursue a PhD in Rehabilitation Science or Applied Health Science.


Professional Associations

The Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) is the national professional association. The CPA is composed of 11 provincial branches and 14 territorial councils. Members of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association may belong to specialty divisions such as acupuncture, cardiorespiratory, neurosciences, oncology, orthopedics, paediatrics, seniors health divisions.


Information about the Patient Community

Physiotherapists evaluate and treat Canadian individuals across the life span, either as general practitioners, or according to physiotherapist specialties detailed above.

Canada’s national health indicators mimic that of other industrialized countries, with respect to common morbidities such as heart and cerebrovascular disease, pulmonary disease, cancer and diabetes.” In Canada, as in other developed countries, health statistics have long shown that when men and women of the same age are compared, women have a higher prevalence of chronic disease and use more medical services, but men have higher mortality rates. This apparent paradox has been a major area of theory, investigation, and speculation for many years”. As of 2006, Malignant neoplasms was the most common cause of death in Canada (29.7% of all deaths), followed by heart disease (21.9%) and cerebrovascular diseases (6.1%).


find a physiotherapist

The Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) represents physiotherapists, physiotherapist assistants and physiotherapist students across Canada. CPA members are rehabilitation professionals dedicated to the health, mobility and fitness of Canadians.

Physiotherapists are primary health care professionals who combine their in-depth knowledge of the body and how it works with specialized hands-on clinical skills to assess, diagnose and treat symptoms of illness, injury or disability.

More than 20,000 registered physiotherapists work in Canada, in private clinics, general and rehabilitation hospitals, community health centres, residential care and assisted-living facilities, home visit agencies, workplaces, and schools.

The CPA presents its educational references as a public service and for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the opinions of the CPA membership.