About respiratory therapists
Respiratory therapists are regulated health professionals who provide direct patient care by evaluating, treating and maintaining cardiopulmonary function.
Respiratory therapists work in hospitals in diverse clinical settings including critical care, neonatal intensive care units, operating rooms and emergency departments. They also teach, and work in home care, clinics, research, rehabilitation and diagnostic clinics and sleep-disorder laboratories, medical equipment sales and services, and chronic disease and primary care networks.
CIHI’s Health Workforce Database (HWDB) collects aggregate-level, standardized data on the regulatory environment, supply, and demographic and education characteristics of respiratory therapists in Canada.
- Data on respiratory therapists from 1988 to 2013 is available on request by completing this data inquiry form or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For more information on CIHI’s health workforce data, visit the HWDB metadata page.
Reports and analyses
- Canada’s Health Care Providers: Provincial Profiles, 2013
- Canada’s Health Care Providers — 1997 to 2011: A Reference Guide
To practise as a respiratory therapist in Canada, an individual must register with a provincial regulatory body as required. The requirements to obtain a licence are similar across the country but can vary slightly from one jurisdiction to another.
- Hold a diploma or bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy from an accredited program
- Pass the national certification examination offered by the Canadian Board of Respiratory Care or the épreuve synthèse in Quebec
- Obtain membership and/or credentialing by the Canadian Society of Respiratory Therapists (a condition of employment for many employers in provinces/territories without regulatory bodies)
- Register with a provincial regulatory body as required
Scope of practice
The scope of practice for respiratory therapists is articulated in provincial regulatory legislation, which outlines the range of responsibilities that define the boundaries of professional practice.
- Treating patients who have experienced trauma or are in surgery or intensive care
- Helping with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
- Stabilizing high-risk patients being moved by air or ground ambulance
- Providing support in high-risk deliveries for babies who have trouble breathing
- Educating the public and patients on appropriate measures to be taken during an influenza pandemic
- Providing information and instruction to health care workers on proper infection control practices, particularly in the event of an infectious outbreak