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About physiotherapists

Physiotherapists or physical therapists (PTs) are regulated, evidence-based, primary health care providers who aim to prevent, assess and treat the impact of injury, disease and/or disorders in movement and function. PTs work to promote optimal mobility; help improve physical activity and overall health and wellness; prevent disease, injury and disability; manage acute and chronic conditions; manage activity limitations and participation restrictions; improve and maintain optimal functional independence and physical performance; rehabilitate injury and the effects of disease or disability; and educate clients and plan maintenance and support programs to prevent reoccurrence, reinjury or functional decline.

PTs work in private and public settings providing client and/or population health interventions as well as management, education, research and consultation services. This broad range of settings may include but is not limited to the following:

  • Hospitals
  • Rehabilitation facilities
  • Residential care facilities
  • Assisted-living residences
  • Community health centres
  • Home care
  • Solo/group professional practices
  • Educational institutions/school boards
  • Associations/governments
  • Commercial organizations
  • Sporting events/field settings
  • Prisonsi

Data availability

CIHI’s Health Workforce Database (HWDB) collects standardized, comparative data on the supply, demographics, geographic and distribution characteristics, and education and employment details of PTs in Canada.

Reports and analyses

Regulatory environment

In Canada, PTs are regulated in all 10 provinces and Yukon. They are not currently regulated in the Northwest Territories or Nunavut.

Practice criteria

To become a PT in Canada, the following is required:

  • Completion of a university degree in an accredited physiotherapy program. In Canada, university physiotherapy programs are at a master's level.
  • Successful completion of 1,025 supervised clinical practice hours
  • Successful completion of the national Physiotherapy Competence Examination (except in Quebec, which has its own assessment process)
  • Registration with a provincial or territorial regulatory organization and maintenance of competency to practise based on the provincial/territorial regulatory requirements

Scope of practice

PTs are regulated health professionals in all provinces and Yukon. The scope of practice for PTs is articulated in provincial/territorial regulatory legislation, which outlines the range of responsibilities that define the boundaries of professional practice.

The "foundation practice acts" are listed in all legislation and include

  • Assessment of neuro-musculoskeletal and cardio respiratory systems
  • Therapeutic exercise
  • Electrotherapy
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Soft tissue techniques
  • Manual therapy
  • Wound management
  • Tracheal suctioning

i Canadian Physiotherapy Association. 2012 description of physiotherapy in Canada. Accessed July 7, 2015.