CPA Code of Ethics

A professional association’s code of ethics sets out the ethical principles governing the conduct of that association’s members. The code must reflect societal ethics of the time, as well as the value systems and moral principles of the members as a collective group. A code of ethics can also encompass the scopes of practice of the profession and of the individual member.

While a code of ethics can provide guidance, it cannot offer definitive resolution to all ethical questions and situations that might arise. Differences of opinion as to what constitutes ethical behaviour are inevitable, and such differences must be respected as much as possible. In addition, society and the practice of physiotherapy are sufficiently complex and changing that situations posing ethical dilemmas and questions not necessarily covered in a code of ethics may arise. In such situations, it is the duty of each member to act in an ethically responsible manner, and members are encouraged to seek additional advice or consultation when deemed necessary.


The Code of Ethics of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) frames the core values of the physiotherapy profession in Canada. The Code of Ethics provides a set of guidelines and principles for the professional behaviour expected of all its members.‡ It is expected that every member of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association will pursue excellence in all professional activities, and will act with integrity, accountability and good judgement in the best interests of the patient/client, society and the physiotherapy profession.

Principles of the Code of Ethics

The Canadian Physiotherapy Association Code of Ethics defines CPA expectations for the professional values and behaviour that underpin all CPA members’ physiotherapy roles and responsibilities.

The following are the principles upon which the Canadian Physiotherapy Association Code of Ethics is determined:

  1. CPA members’ responsibilities to the patient/client.
  2. CPA members’ responsibilities to society.
  3. CPA members’ responsibilities to the profession.

Specifically, the Code is based on the following ethical values and professional principles:

  • Respect and dignity: to acknowledge, value and appreciate the worth of all patients/clients
  • Respect for patient/client autonomy: to respect a patient/client’s or substitute decision maker’s right to make decisions
  • Beneficence: to provide benefit to patients/clients
  • Non-maleficence: to do no harm to patients/clients
  • Responsibility: to be reliable and dependable
  • Trustworthiness and integrity: to be honest and to be trusted
  • Professionalism: to be a good citizen/member in good standing of the professional association

Responsibilities to the patient/client

CPA members:

  1. Act in a respectful manner and do not refuse care/treatment to any patient/client on the grounds of race, religion, ethnic or national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, social or health status.
  2. Act to promote the health and wellbeing of patients/clients, while respecting their rights, dignity, needs, wishes and values.
  3. Respect the patients/clients/substitute decision-makers’ rights to be informed about the effects of treatment, any inherent risks, and alternative treatment options.
  4. Give patients/clients/substitute decision-makers the opportunity to consent to or decline treatment or alterations to a treatment plan.
  5. Will not treat patients/clients when the diagnosis or continuation of physiotherapy is not warranted or is contraindicated.
  6. Respect the confidentiality, privacy, and security of patient/client information in all forms of communication.
  7. Practice in a safe, competent, accountable and responsible manner within their individual scope of practice.
  8. Take responsibility for the patient/client care delegated to physiotherapist assistants and students.
  9. Take all reasonable steps to prevent harm to patients/clients. Should harm occur disclose it to the patient/client/substitute decision-maker.
  10. Communicate effectively and respectfully, and practice cooperatively with colleagues, other health professionals and agencies for the benefit of patients/clients.


Responsibilities to society

CPA members:

  1. Earn the respect of society, the profession, and other health professions through their conduct.
  2. Recognize their responsibility to improve the standards of health care and the wellbeing of society.
  3. Commit to maintaining and enhancing the reputation and standing of the physiotherapy profession, and to fulfilling the broader social responsibilities that their physiotherapy role places on them.
  4. Comply with all legislation and regulatory requirements that pertain to the practice of physiotherapy.
  5. Report to the appropriate authorities any member of the profession who appears to be practicing in an incompetent, unsafe, illegal or unethical manner.

Responsibilities to the profession

CPA members:

  1. Accept responsibility for upholding the integrity of the profession, and act with integrity in all professional activities.
  2. Commit to maintaining and enhancing the reputation and standing of the physiotherapy profession by treating everyone with dignity and respect in all interactions.
  3. Strive for excellence in whatever role/area in which they practice.
  4. Enhance their expertise through lifelong acquisition and refinement of knowledge, skills, abilities and professional behaviours.
  5. Recognize their responsibility to share evidence-informed and clinical best practices in physiotherapy with each other and other health care professionals.
  6. Be willing and diligent preceptors of students.


The Canadian Physiotherapy Association retains the right and responsibility to interpret its Code of Ethics, and to revoke membership of any member who is found to have violated its provisions.

‡ Members include physiotherapists, physiotherapist assistants, physiotherapy students, and physiotherapist assistant students.


Print versions

Want to print the Code of Ethics for your office or clinic?

Pro version (crops and bleeds, for professional printers)

Office printer version (8.5 x 11 colour)