Since the initial PCE exam cancellations at the outset of the COVID pandemic, the CPA has continued to advocate for CAPR and College regulators to address the extraordinary delays in licensing for physiotherapy candidates. We speak on behalf of the candidates and of our community of physiotherapy professionals, now standing at 17,000 strong.
Earlier this year, we published our three-point ask of CAPR and the Colleges: return candidates’ fees, suspend the PCE requirement, and modernize the licensing system. Here is where those calls to action stand:
Ask 1 – Return the candidates’ exam fees
The CPA has heard from CAPR that approximately 100 candidates have yet to receive their refunds for various logistical reasons.
Discussions between CPA and CAPR had considered a possible role for CPA to mediate payments to facilitate quicker resolution of refunds to the remaining candidates. At this time, CAPR has decided to continue working directly with candidates.
We’re disappointed by this outcome but feel the positions we have taken and statements we have made were appropriate. We will continue to advocate, offer problem-solving solutions and recommendations to CAPR based on the needs and concerns of candidates and our members, on this issue.
Ask 2 – Suspend the PCE requirement
The CPA is encouraged to see progress by many of Canada’s Physiotherapy Colleges who have identified that the ongoing PCE crisis is exactly that, a crisis. Some Colleges are publicly setting out their plans for alternatives to the PCE. Whether it requires amendments to College by-laws or regulations, accepting an alternate testing method, or bypassing the competency component of the PCE altogether through exemptions; in light of recent failures, suspending the requirement for the practical component is essential for candidates who have waited too long to practice. The CPA urges all Colleges to provide clear, tangible details on solutions and timing for those candidates who are in limbo.
Following consultation sessions held between the CPA and the Branches about ongoing advocacy, and taking into account the failure by some of the Colleges to prepare non-CAPR related alternate licensing options, the CPA staff met regularly with the CPA Board to determine next steps. As directed by the Board, CPA staff engaged a legal team to explore if/how the legal system could expedite accountability and licensure by the Colleges. We continue to explore this option.
As we look ahead, we will continue to explore every possible avenue to expedite licensure for the candidates impacted by the physiotherapy licensing crisis in our country. We are supporting our partners at the Branch-level with their College-focused advocacy and we continue to engage experts to keep a finger on the pulse of the changing environment and the levers we can pull to further expedite the process. The CPA remains a committed and focused advocate on behalf of not only candidates and members of the profession for whom this crisis is a focus, but also on behalf of Canadians who need physiotherapy care.
Ask 3 – Modernize the System
Once regulatory Colleges have addressed the crisis of delays in licensure, the future is where our efforts, and the efforts of all parts of the Canadian Physiotherapy profession needs to focus. The CPA wants to invite stakeholders to the table for this discussion. The fact that Canada’s physiotherapy profession has been unable to resolve its issues related to licensure during the pandemic, while other professions have managed to proceed in spite of the pandemic, underscores the need to modernize the physiotherapy licensing system. The CPA Board continues to be concerned about the licensure process, and the gaps and challenges that have been exposed by COVID-19. The fragmented approach taken by the Colleges towards licensure has left too many candidates waiting. The CPA is proposing a national, multi-stakeholder approach that reconsiders entry-to-practice. By bringing a wide array of voices to the table, a long-term solution is possible.
Next Steps for Advocacy
Thank you to our resilient candidates and members for sharing their concerns and frustrations about the impact PCE delays have had over the past year and a half. Our advocacy asks are informed by your perspectives; as a member Association, the voices and needs of the profession remain our reason for existence. Grassroots advocacy initiatives have been instrumental in this movement and we are proud that physiotherapy professionals across the country have been active in trying to resolve the licensure issue. We will continue to work with our members around our three asks.