Physician Assistant Day spotlights growing demand for PAs among doctors, patients, and Canadian health systems

All Canadians would benefit from expanding the use of PAs to close gaps in care and save money

OTTAWA, November 27, 2018 — As Canadian physician assistants (PAs) celebrate National Physician Assistant Day on November 27, 2018, they are reminding provincial and territorial governments that including PAs on modern health care teams is fundamental to improving access to care and driving efficiencies.

“We hear about the crisis in health care every day—from long waits in emergency rooms to record levels of doctor burnout,” said Trevor Stone, President of the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants. “PAs are increasingly viewed as key to building a health workforce that can respond to these challenges and governments need to remove barriers that prevent us from practicing and serving patients.”

Just last year a report from the Conference Board of Canada called PAs “a largely untapped resource that can help governments continue to provide high levels of service while reducing overall system costs”. The report recommends that Canadian health systems optimize the use of PAs and that governments implement appropriate funding models. Globally, the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of PAs has driven their growth in the United States, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, to name just a few countries where they are widely integrated.

Across Canada pressure is mounting on governments to act on these recommendations. Notably, calls are the loudest in British Columbia, where groups ranging from Doctors of BC through to the BC Chamber of Commerce have long been in favour of using PAs as a concrete way to address poor access to care, especially in rural communities hardest hit by the shortage of health care providers.

PAs are skilled health care professionals who work independently under the supervision of a licensed doctor to extend productivity and allow more patients to be seen. They conduct physical exams, order and interpret tests, diagnose illnesses, and prescribe medications. Today there are over 600 certified PAs practicing in New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, and Alberta and they play a central role in the Canadian Armed Forces, where they care for Canada’s military personnel at home and abroad.

“It’s clear that now more than ever Canada needs PAs,” said Stone. “Putting PAs with the right skills in the right settings, starting with rural communities, is an obvious way to save money and improve the health of Canadians.”

About the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants

The Canadian Association of Physician Assistants is the national voice of physician assistants in Canada. We support quality standards and competencies and help establish the profession within the national health care framework. Learn more:

Media Contact: Andrea Tiwari, Director, Communications and Stakeholder Relations, or 613 614 6863.