Physician Legislation

CAPA strives to provide leadership as the national authority and resource on the Physician Assistant practice.


On December 3, 2010, the Council of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA) passed bylaw 24(6), allowing physician assistants (PAs) to operate under the responsibility of a regulated member. Accordingly, the CPSA created a new voluntary and non-regulated membership category for PA. More information, including registration criteria for the CPSA and their responsibility regarding PAs, can be found on their website. Additionally, a list of restricted activities can be found in schedule 7.1 (see page 43) of Alberta’s Government Organization Act.


On July 14, 1999, the government of Manitoba passed the clinical assistant (CA) registration amendment under the Medical Act. This allowed for the licensing of registered clinical assistants. This was later amended in 2009 to permit practice under the title of Physician Assistant. Regulation 183/99, also known as “Clinical Assistants and Physician Assistants Regulation”, was registered under the Manitoba Medical Act by the Council of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba (CPSM) on December 23, 1999. This regulation allows for the registration of physician assistants on the Physician Assistant Register.


In May 2006, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care announced its decision to begin including physician assistants in the provincial health care system as a way of addressing the shortage of doctors. This coincided with the launch of HealthForceOntario, which now heads the strategy for health human resources. A demonstration project was launched in 2006 as a way of evaluating the impact of PAs on the Ontario health care system. The project is being led by the Ministry in collaboration with the Ontario Medical Association (OMA). Despite these advances, physician assistants in Ontario remain unregulated. More information can be found in the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO)’s policy on Delegation of Controlled Acts and on the Ontario Physician Assistant Scope of Practice Statement and Ontario Physician Assistant Competency Profile.

New Brunswick

In 2009, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New Brunswick (CPSNB) amended the New Brunswick Medical Act in order to include physician assistants in their health care model. Section 32.1 of the Act now allows PAs to be licensed, provided they register with the CPSNB. In addition, Regulation 14 was created in January 2010 in order to dictate the terms of practice for PAs in the province.

British Columbia

The province of British Columbia does not currently have any legislation accommodating physician assistants in their health care system. However, in 2005, the British Columbia Medical Association (BCMA) has demonstrated support for the profession by first producing a policy paper entitled “Working together: Enhancing multidisciplinary primary care in BC”, backing the use of PAs.

CAPA Scope of Practice and National Competency Profile

The Canadian Association of Physician Assistants (CAPA) is a national professional organization that advocates for physician assistants (PAs) and represents its membership across Canada and globally. It is committed to fostering development of the physician/ physician assistant model to assure quality care for Canadians. The Scope of Practice and National Competency Profile are created with the support of The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (RCPSC) and the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) as a resource for PA’s, Supervising Physicians, Educators, Legislators and other health professionals.

CAPA has established and maintains the national standard of practice for PAs and provides the National Certification Process through the Physician Assistant Certification Council (PACC). The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) offers conjoint accreditation of PA training programs with CAPA. By guiding educational programs and assisting legislators, CAPA's goal is to provide efficacious health professionals to the Canadian public, and foster the development of the profession nationally.

Historically the PA’s role was developed within the Canadian Forces Health Services to provide a full spectrum of medical care. Civilian PAs are practicing in Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, and in Alberta. This model is being increasingly used to help meet the pressing demand for quality medical care around the world. In the U.S. Physician Assistants have been assisting in meeting this need since the 1970’s. In addition, health care planners and administrators in many countries worldwide have utilized similar models or are starting to explore this health care profession.

CAPA’s objective in the development of this document is to communicate to the public and to the PA profession a set of standards that all physician assistants are expected to acquire for entry to practice. It is intended to help employers, PAs, physicians, educators and others to understand the breadth and depth of practice for PAs in Canada.

This document provides the Scope of Practice Statement and the National Competency Profile, developed for entry-level Generalist PAs in Canada. The Scope of Practice Statement defines how and under what circumstances the PA may exercise their competencies within the health care system. The PA scope of practice is relevant to practice in any health care setting or role.

PA Toolkit: A Resource for Canadian Physicians

Concern about the shortage of physicians in Canada is nothing new for the Canadian Medical Association (CMA). It has been exploring solutions and advocating appropriate public policy decisions to ease the pressure for many years, at both federal and provincial/territorial levels. One area of interest is physician assistants (PAs), virtually unknown in this country outside of military medicine until recently.