The Canadian Association of Physician Assistants (CAPA) is a professional association that advocates for the introduction and expansion of the PA profession in Canada. CAPA is the national voice of physician assistants in Canada that supports quality standards and competencies and help establish the profession within the national health care framework. Learn more: capa-acam.ca. CAPA is NOT a regulatory college, a disciplinary board or an assessment organization. The certifying body for PAs in Canada is the Physician Assistant Certification Council of Canada (PACCC).
PAs are currently able to work within the public healthcare system in the following provinces: Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan. Each province has handled the introduction of PAs differently. We recommend that you review the Legislation page on the CAPA website regarding legislation in each province.
The profession is regulated in Manitoba, New Brunswick, Alberta and Saskatchewan by the colleges of physicians and surgeons in these provinces and PAs currently practicing in either of these provinces must be registered with their respective provincial College.
In Ontario, Bill 283, Advancing Oversight and Planning in Ontario's Health System Act, will amend the Medicine Act, 1991 and allow PAs to be regulated under the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO). On June 1st, 2021, Bill 283 passed third reading in the Ontario Legislature. Following this on June 3rd, the bill received Royal Assent, when the Lieutenant Governor signed the bill, officially making it law. We are working closely with government and CPSO to establish regulation for PAs in Ontario which should be in place by mid-2024. Currently there is no regulation that states a PA must be certified; however, certification (CCPA or PA-C) may be required at the discretion of an employer. CAPA advocates that all PAs practicing in Canada obtain Canadian certification.
In Nova Scotia, the government launched a pilot project in 2019 at the Nova Scotia Health Authority for three PAs to work in orthopaedic surgery to help tackle hip and knee surgery wait times. Following the successful introduction of this pilot project, the province began incorporating PAs into emergency departments in the fall of 2022 and in April 2023, the government announced $1.7 million in the budget to add 10 new physician assistants to collaborative primary care sites across the province. Draft regulations will be established and PAs will in the future need to be registered with the CPSNS.
Provinces working on introducing PAs
In Newfoundland, in it's 2023 budget, the government announced that it is investing $700,000 for a Physician Assistants Pilot Program that will introduce PAs into their health system and help support human resource challenges across the health system.
In Prince Eward Island, through the partnership of government, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Prince Edward Island and Health PEI new regulations have been generated to allow PA to be licensed and practice in Prince Edward Island, providing more support to physicians and helping to improve access to care for Islanders.
For British Columbia, PAs cannot practice in and are not currently regulated in the province. We have been strongly advocating for the introduction of PAs through initiatives such as an advertising campaign to raise awareness and demonstrate the value PAs bring to the health care system. We also have ongoing discussions with many stakeholders in BC. It is encouraging that many groups within the provincial health care system are favourable to adding PAs to the BC workforce, including physicians and those within health authorities. We continue to advocate for change and with the current challenges the health care system is facing, we are optimistic that the introduction of PAs in the province is forthcoming.
Currently in Quebec physicians may not delegate medical acts and PAs may not practice in the province (outside of the military). We advocate strongly for expansion, and there is starting to be support for PAs in the province and we believe that a framework to allow PAs to practice in the province will be developed in the near future.
How do I apply to a Canadian PA education program?
All questions related to education should be directed to the Canadian universities which offer PA education programs. We do not answer questions regarding admissions criteria, curriculum, or clinical rotations.
Canadian certification Exam
In order to be eligible to write the Physician Assistant Certification Council of Canada (PACCC) PA Cert Exam you need to be a member of the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants (CAPA) and be a graduate of a Canadian PA program recognized by PACCC (currently the Canadian Armed Forces PA Program, University of Manitoba, McMaster University and the Consortium of PA Education (University of Toronto, the Michener Institute and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine) OR be a graduate of an Accreditation Review Commission (ARC) PA program in the United States and be certified by the National Commission of Certification for Physician Assistant (NCCPA). No other international programs graduates are eligible.
Even if you have earned a medical degree, you must still graduate from a program recognized by PACCC (as indicated above.
PA profession overview
For a complete overview of the PA profession in Canada, including education, certification, regulation, maintenance of certification (and/or competencies), scope of practice, standards of practice, and professional liability insurance coverage please see our Information Brief.
The EPA-PA and the CanMEDS-PA define how and under what circumstances the PA may exercise their competencies within the health care system. The EPA-PA and the CanMEDS-PA are relevant to a practice in any health care setting or role.
How do I find employment opportunities in Canada?
All CAPA members have access to a members-only Job Listings page on our website. If you are not a member of CAPA, you can also search popular employment sites like Indeed or contact organizations directly.
How do I join CAPA?
Working in Canada: General resources
- Immigration and Citizenship website
- Preparing to work in Canada
- Getting a work permit
- Coming to Canada – eligibility tool