Budget 2021 is a chance to modernize B.C.’s health care workforce ahead of a second wave of COVID-19

Canadian Association of Physician Assistants calls on Horgan government to introduce, hire, and train physician assistants as part of the provincial response to the pandemic

VICTORIA, June 10, 2020—Today, the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants urged the British Columbia government to catch up with the rest of the globe and take the long overdue step of adding physician assistants (PAs) to the province’s health care workforce.

Eric Demers, a resident of Victoria and the Association’s immediate Past-President, made the recommendation in remarks he delivered at today’s Budget 2021 Consultations, held by the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services.

“The immense role that PAs can play in boosting health system capacity is among the big global lessons from the first wave of COVID-19, but here at home I’m on the sidelines,” said Demers. “Right now I can only travel to northern Canada to deliver care at remote worksites because I can’t practice locally when I’m home. It doesn’t make sense.”

PAs are advanced practice clinicians trained in the medical model to work under the supervision of a licensed doctor and provide primary, acute, and specialty care in all types of settings. Today British Columbia lags behind other Canadian provinces, and countries like the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States, in terms of using the PA model to streamline services, decrease costs, and improve the efficiency of the physician workforce.

As far back as 2013, Doctors of BC has supported the introduction of PAs through its policy statement. The Conference Board of Canada conducted an in-depth study and found that increasing the use of PAs could save the Canadian health system more than $600 million.

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 and a broad scope of practice, the government can quickly deploy PAs to fill needs across the health system.

CAPA’s pre-budget recommendations ask the government to:

  1. Regulate PAs under the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia.
  2. Provide health authorities with funding earmarked to hire 50 PAs over the next three years, at a cost of approximately $6.5 million.
  3. Work with physicians, health system leaders, First Nations, and other stakeholders to identify the specialties where PAs can have the greatest impact.
  4. Explore developing a PA Education Program at UBC to begin training homegrown PAs.

“I hear from so many PAs who would move here in a heartbeat to serve patients,” said Demers. “The government is looking for long-lasting solutions to help steer us through this crisis and we are ready to help.”

Quick Facts

  • More than 700 PAs practice across Canada in Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, and New Brunswick.
  • Family medicine, emergency medicine, surgical specialties, and general medicine are among the many clinical settings where Canadian PAs are well-established.
  • The Conference Board of Canada recommends that governments capitalize on the potential of the PA profession by implementing strategic policy and funding changes to the way that health human resources and health services are delivered.

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: capa-acam.ca.

2021 Pre-Budget Submission to the Government of British Columbia

CAPA participated in British Columbia’s Budget 2021 Consultations held by the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services.

In remarks from Eric Demers, Past-President, and in our submission, we illustrate that introducing and investing in physician assistants now is essential to boosting health system capacity and building a sustainable health care workforce.

Read more in the pre-budget submission. Members are encouraged to reinforce these themes in budget-related discussions and submissions to provincial officials.

Statement on Racial Injustice and Anti-Oppression

The Canadian Association of Physician Assistants grieves with our members and joins them in speaking out against the appalling acts of anti-Black racism and violence we have all witnessed over the past several days and weeks.

These actions are completely deplorable, they are not new, and they also occur in Canada.

Physician assistants value compassion, empathy, respect for all persons, justice, and accountability. These foundational values are instilled in our training. Through our professional and personal lives, we can all contribute to efforts to eliminate health disparities in our communities.

As health care professionals, we recognize that racism affects our racialized patients who face negative outcomes and poor experiences with the health care system. We also recognize that racism affects physician assistants in daily clinical work and academia. As a member-led association, we are committed to acknowledging the impact of all forms of discrimination and oppression, accepting the responsibility to make a difference, and using our collective voice to stand against intolerance and racial injustice.


CAPA is the national professional association representing physician assistants (PAs) in Canada. We are the national voice of PAs and work to support quality standards and competencies, and help establish the profession within the national health care framework. Learn more: capa-acam.ca.

The Unsinkable Doc

Sub-Lieutenant Nicole Spivey, HMCS Nanaimo’s Physician Assistant

“Is the Doc in here?” asks a member of the ship’s company as they poke their head into the wardroom.

The Doc is in.

Sub-Lieutenant (SLt) Nicole Spivey, HMCS Nanaimo’s Physician Assistant, or Doc as she is known, waves the person in. Nanaimo’s Doc is a former Medical Technician of 13 years who commissioned as a Physician Assistant in January 2020 after completing her training.

The patient takes a seat while SLt Spivey does a quick examination of what ails: a bump to the head, but it’s not too bad. A quick clean of the wound, a couple Band-Aids, and a few encouraging words and the patient is good to go. Today, it’s a minor head wound; tomorrow, who can say.

The medical needs of a ship’s company can be vast, varied, and as complex as the human beings on board. The relationship that forms between individual members and the specialists on board who nurture their welfare is unlike any other, especially with the person who provides medical care…read more in CFB Esquimalt Lookout Navy News.

Get Involved with CAPA! Join the Revenue Generation Committee

CAPA is recruiting members to join the new Revenue Generation Committee. We’re looking for three PA members-at-large from across Canada who are eager to get involved in your professional association.

As a member-at-large, your roles and responsibilities will include:

  • Providing strategic direction in the development of a plan to solicit funds to support the operations of CAPA over the short and long-term;
  • Identifying opportunities for revenue generation and prospective sponsors;
  • Networking in your professional communities and helping solicit prospective sponsors, as required;
  • Acting as ambassadors, who will champion the importance of investing in and supporting CAPA as the national voice for PAs and the PA profession.

By applying for a position, you confirm that you are willing and able to meet these responsibilities and be an active, contributing member.

About the Revenue Generation Committee

A strategic priority for CAPA is continuing to strengthen the long-term financial sustainability of our association. Establishing a Revenue Generation Committee is intended to help us engage members in our efforts to enhance conference sponsorship options, expand partnerships, and cultivate new partners who can support our efforts over the long term.


You are asked to participate in 1 meeting (one hour) once a month or as determined by the Chair.

How to apply

We encourage members in good standing to consider applying (you must maintain your membership status during your term, if you are appointed). Committee member appointments are made by the CAPA Board of Directors.

Apply by sending an email with the following information to admin@capa-acam.ca by June 20, 2020.

  • First and last name
  • Employer and specialty
  • Any experience with revenue generation, sponsorship requests etc.
  • Your interest statement (maximum of 150 words)*

*Your interest statement should briefly tell us why you are interested in serving on this committee, what skills you bring, any previous involvement in revenue generating activities or organizing CPD events, and how you would like to contribute.

The call for volunteers closes June 20, but don’t wait, apply today!

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