Yesterday, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, presented the 2023 Federal Budget: A Made-in-Canada Plan: Strong Middle Class, Affordable Economy, Healthy Future.

The Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) is pleased to see the Federal government’s commitment to strengthening Canada’s universal public health care system through an investment of $198.3 billion over the next ten years to enhance the health care system.

To learn more about the 2023 Budget:

CPA Advocacy Briefing Note on the Federal Budget

Canada Health Transfers & Bilateral Agreements

The 2023 Budget includes a Canada Health Transfer top-up of $2 billion in 2022–23 to address urgent pressures in emergency rooms, operating rooms, and pediatric hospitals, building on $6.5 billion in top-ups provided throughout the pandemic.

There will also be $195.8 billion over ten years in health transfers to provinces and territories, including $46.2 billion in new funding through tailored bilateral agreements.

Additionally, the government will provide $25 billion over ten years through a new set of bilateral agreements to address individual provincial and territorial health system needs, such as expanding access to family health services, supporting health workers, reducing backlogs, increasing mental health and substance use support, and modernizing health systems. The bilateral agreements also require the provinces and territories to uphold the Canada Health Act and use new federal spending to strengthen Canada’s health care system.

Emergency Rooms and Surgical Delays

The 2023 Budget acknowledges that the public health care system has not delivered the high-quality care Canadians deserve and expect. It cites overwhelmed emergency rooms, surgical delays, and the impact that COVID has had on the system.

This is in line with the CPA’s 2023 Pre-Budget Submission to the Department of Finance, which noted that Canada’s health care system is under severe strain, with no end in sight. The CPA contends that physiotherapy professionals can help reduce this strain, as physiotherapy is already embedded into the Canada Health Act.

The CPA will continue to advocate to the Federal government to optimize the use of physiotherapy expertise and ensure that physiotherapy professionals’ distinct skills are integrated to support innovative care delivery solutions and help improve system capacity across Canada.

Health Human Resource Crisis and Foreign Credential Recognition

In terms of addressing the Canadian health human resource crisis, the 2023 Budget looks to streamline foreign credential recognition for internally educated health professionals and to advance multi-jurisdictional credential recognition so that health care professionals can work wherever needed.

This messaging reflects the CPA’s 2023 Pre-Budget Submission to the Federal government, where we strongly supported the facilitation of labour mobility and the harmonization of entry-to-practice requirements for health care professionals across Canada.

Canada Student Loan Forgiveness Program

The 2023 Budget unfortunately falls short in the timely modernization of the Canada Student Loan Forgiveness Program to other regulated providers. The Budget proposes $45.9 million in funding over four years, starting in 2024–25, with $11.7 million ongoing, to Employment and Social Development Canada to expand the reach of the Canada Student Loan Forgiveness program to more rural communities. However, there is a continued focus on supporting only physicians and nurses with this program. The CPA is disappointed that this Budget has left out other critical interdisciplinary care partners like physiotherapy.

The CPA will continue to advocate for the expansion of this program to physiotherapists, particularly as the Budget indicates that the government will continue to examine eligible occupations for loan forgiveness. Both as a priority for the Association, and through our collaborative advocacy with the Extended Healthcare Professionals Coalition, CPA will remain focused on tangible movement on the student loan forgiveness program while the government continues to consider expansion. Our messaging contends that physiotherapy is a natural choice for the Canada Student Financial Assistance Program expansion, as it would reduce the financial burden on physiotherapy graduates, entice new entrants into the system, and provide upstream solutions to health resource shortages, particularly in rural and remote communities where preventative and rehabilitative physiotherapy care is most required.

Health Information, Data Standards & Action Plans to Report Progress

The CPA is pleased to see the Federal government’s continued focus on health information and commitment to improving how health information is collected, shared, used, and reported along with common data standards. The 2023 Budget proposes providing $505 million in funding over five years to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Canada Health Infoway, and other federal data partners. Together, these organizations will work with provinces and territories to develop new health data indicators, support the creation of a Centre of Excellence on health worker data, advance digital health tools and an interoperability roadmap, and support provincial and territorial efforts to use data to improve the safety and quality of health care.

In support of this, the CPA has been actively involved in the Health Workforce Data Project led by the Centre for Excellence in Health Workforce Data and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and funded by the federal government, and has ensured that physiotherapy representatives are part of the ongoing consultations in mapping out the ‘data story’ for how information about the profession is gathered and collected.

This is in addition to developing action plans to measure and report progress to Canadians about improved access to family health services, mental health and substance use services, supporting health workers, and reducing backlogs and waitlists.

Drugs and Substances Strategy

The government of Canada is investing $359.2 million over five years, with $5.7 million ongoing and $1.3 million in remaining amortization, to support a renewed Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy. This includes $144 million over five years to Health Canada for the Substance Use and Addictions Program to fund community-based supports, including safer supply, supervised consumption sites, and other evidence-based health interventions. There will also be $20.2 million invested over five years to the Public Health Agency of Canada for a new community-based program to prevent substance use among young people.

The CPA recognizes that Canada is in the midst of a national opioid crisis affecting families and communities across the nation, which is highlighting the urgent need to expand options for non-pharmacological pain management. We will continue to inform the government of the crucial role that physiotherapy plays in leading and supporting care focused on rehabilitative and non-pharmacological pain management. Canadians need more evidence-informed support to navigate the complexities of pain, and our upcoming theme for National Physiotherapy Month will address how greater access to non-pharmacological pain management care, including physiotherapy care, can help address this need and alleviate system pressures.

Small Businesses & Lowering Credit Card Fees

The government has announced that it has secured commitments from Visa and MasterCard to lower fees for small businesses, while also protecting reward points for Canadian consumers offered by Canada’s large banks.

Next Steps

The CPA has worked with the Extended Health Care Professionals Coalition on a collaborative news release to respond to the 2023 Budget. Our release acknowledges that these federal investments are a step in the right direction to improved equitable and accessible health care services, but argues that more must be done to integrate and support interprofessional health care teams.

The CPA will be reaching out to government directly regarding key areas in the Budget to explain how the physiotherapy profession can leverage and maximize the proposed government investments and support its priorities.

The NDP has indicated that they will support the Budget, which will eliminate the threat of a vote of no confidence and an election.

Critical areas of focus for our advocacy will continue to be centred on optimizing the role of physiotherapy, alleviating the health human resource crisis, expanding non-pharmacological pain management options, and supporting Canadians in rural and remote communities, and we will continue to advocate for targeted funding, innovative solutions, and health care planning that are inclusive of physiotherapy.

If you have any questions, please contact Kayla Scott (Sr. Director, Advocacy, CPA) at

Government of Canada’s 2023 Federal Budget:

Other Responses to the Budget 2023: