Proven health initiative stalled for last decade—New Brunswick lags behind other provinces

The Canadian Association of Physician Assistants is asking the Higgs government to fulfil its campaign pledge and hire more physician assistants as part of provincial health reform

FREDERICTON, February 25, 2020—The Canadian Association of Physician Assistants (CAPA) is calling on the New Brunswick government to hire 30 new physician assistants (PAs) to help address the province-wide shortage of health care professionals. The recommendation is part of CAPA’s submission during the public pre-budget consultation process.

“Health workforce staffing is the underlying issue in this health care crisis,” said Kevin Dickson, CAPA’s Provincial Director for New Brunswick. “Our message to Premier Higgs is that the next budget must include measures to establish a pipeline of PAs who have the training and skills to meet patient needs, tackle wait times, and advance team-based care.”

PAs are highly skilled advanced practice clinicians who work under the supervision of a licensed doctor to provide primary, acute, and specialty care in all types of settings. Other provinces, and countries around the world, use the PA model to address unmet needs, decrease costs, and boost the efficiency of the physician workforce.

Unlike other new roles in health care, PAs represent a new workforce that can fill existing vacancies, instead of simply shifting gaps from one profession to another. And with a generalist training, the government can quickly deploy PAs to fill needs across the health system.

CAPA’s 2020 pre-budget submission makes three key recommendations on how New Brunswick should be leveraging the PA profession to benefit patients:

  1. Provide health authorities with funding earmarked to hire an additional 30 PAs over the next three years, at a cost of approximately $3.6 million.
  2. Expand the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New Brunswick’s regulation of PAs to allow PAs to work in all clinical settings and beyond the direct employment of a regional health authority.
  3. Work with physicians, health system leaders, and municipalities to identify the clinical settings and communities where PAs should be deployed to have the greatest impact on patient access to care.

“New Brunswick is stretched to capacity,” said Dickson. “If the government is serious about innovation in health care, it’s crucial to add more PAs to bridge the gaps in care and improve the services we all depend on.”

Additional Information

Reports from the Conference Board of Canada on the role, effectiveness, and value of physician assistants:

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: