Canada: a profile of the profession

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The data has been provided by Canadian Physiotherapy Association and to the extent possible are a true reflection of the situation in the country, however not all figures are authoritative and should be interpreted accordingly. For questions or feedback please contact

Reference year: 2018

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Summary report for Canada
Summary report
Professional name
English name:
Physiotherapist  (Partially protected by law)
National language names:
  • Physiotherapist  (Partially protected by law)
  • physiothérapeute  (Partially protected by law)
  • Physical Therapist  (Partially protected by law)
Number of physical therapist members:
Entry level student organisation:
Yes, represented by the WCPT member organisation
Practising physical therapists
Number of practising physical therapists:
22,000    (Estimated)
Support personnel part of workforce:
Physiotherapy Canada  (4 times per year)
Special interest groups recognised by Canada
Recognised special interest groups:
  • Acupuncture
  • Animal practice
  • Cardiorespiratory physical therapy
  • Management/administration (includes leadership, medico-legal, professional standards and best practice)
  • Neurology
  • Orthopaedics/manual therapy
  • Older people
  • Oncology/palliative care
  • Pain (includes pain management, pain research)
  • Paediatrics
  • Private practitioners
  • Sports physical therapy
  • Womens health
Collaborative arrangements (twinning)
Physical therapist professional entry level education
Number of programmes:
Starting education level (minimum):
Bachelors degree
Finishing education level (minimum):
Masters degree
Equivalent fulltime years:
Other entry level programmes
Note: qualification levels are consistent with ISCED 1997 levels
Post professional degree programmes
Post professional degree programmes:
Masters degree,  Research doctorate
Physical therapist specialisation recognised by Canada
Recognised specialisation:
  • Cardiorespiratory physical therapy
  • Neurology
  • Orthopaedics/manual therapy
  • Older people
  • Oncology/palliative care
  • Pain (includes pain management, pain research)
  • Paediatrics
  • Sports physical therapy
  • Womens health
  • Regulatory colleges in Canada also recognize the specialty designation from the American Physical therapy Association
Scope of practice defined by:
Ministry of Health or another government department
Standards of practice:
Yes, the standards of the regulatory/licensing/registration authority
Code of conduct:
Yes, more than one
Education for autonomous practice:
Legislation to prevent private practice:
Physical Therapists are permitted to:
  • Act as first contact/autonomous practitioners
  • Assess patients/clients
  • Make a diagnosis
  • Treat (interventions, advice and evaluation of outcome)
  • Refer to other specialists/services
  • Offer preventative advice/services
Direct access* permitted:
Can people self refer to physical therapists in private practice:
Will this be reimbursed:
In part
Can people self refer to physical therapists in the public system:
Yes - May be limitations- practices differ in each province
* Direct access - a person can refer themselves to a physical therapist without referral from another health professional
Registration required to practice:
CPD* required for re-registration:
CPD* required for membership:
The system of regulation in the country:
A physiotherapist working in Canada, with the exception of the Province of Quebec, must pass a competency exam given by the Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators. This exam includes a written and practical component. Once, the physiotherapist has passed the exam, they apply to the provincial regulatory body, also known as the College, for their license. Each College will have a their own set of application and maintenance procedures. Health care is provincial in Canada, therefore, the legislation may allow for slightly different practices for physiotherapists surrounding certain techniques, for example, acupuncture, pelvic health, or ordering x-rays/MRI, etc. The Alliance's website is Each of the provincial regulatory bodies can be reached at: Yukon: British Columbia: Alberta: Saskatchewan: Manitoba: Ontario: Quebec: New Brunswick: Nova Scotia: Prince Edward Island: Newfoundland & Labrador:
* CPD - Continuing Professional Development

Other available reference years: 2015  2017