Health Care for First Nations, Inuit & Metis

Aboriginal peoples in Canada face unique health challenges and have poorer health outcomes than non-Aboriginal persons. Although the Aboriginal population is on average younger than the general population, there is a higher prevalence of injury, illness and chronic disease.

The Canadian Physiotherapy Association acknowledges the influence of the broader determinants of health on Aboriginal peoples in Canada at both the individual and population level, from socioeconomic status and migration to urban centres to the longer term impact of colonization and self-determination.

These well-documented health inequities have been associated with poorer health outcomes. Increased access to healthcare services provided by Aboriginal health care professionals, or a workforce trained to deliver culturally competent and safe care, can improve these outcomes.

CPA launches education award for Indigenous Students

The Canadian Physiotherapy Association and the Physiotherapy Foundation of Canada are pleased to announce the launch of a new Indigenous Student Award, designed to meet the increasing needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis students for financial support to pursue a career in physiotherapy.


Environmental Scan of Access to Physiotherapy in Rural, Remote and Northern Areas of Canada

In 2015, the CPA undertook an environmental scan related to access to physiotherapy in rural, remote and northern parts of Canada. Between June and September 2015, 50 key informant interviews were conducted by staff physiotherapist Kerry Kittson. An additional 130 physiotherapists responded to an online survey about issues related to working in rural practice. All 13 provinces and territories were represented in the interviews and survey. The common themes from the interviews and survey fall under three categories: challenges facing patients; challenges facing physiotherapists; and, general issues related to access to care. 

This report could also provide support in the context of rural and remote advocacy efforts. Please reach out to CPA staff physiotherapist Kerry Kittson with any questions.

Read a summary of the report

CPA Position Statement: The Role of Physiotherapy in Aboriginal Health Care

Health care priorities identified by Aboriginal communities should be matched to the appropriate health professionals and funded to ensure the delivery of effective and efficient health care. This includes physiotherapy, an important component in the care of acute illness and injury, as well as in the prevention and/or management of chronic diseases.

Read the position statement

Access to Physiotherapy for Aboriginal Peoples in Canada

Access to Physiotherapy for Aboriginal Peoples in Canada provides a brief overview of the health status of First Nations, Inuit and Métis populations in Canada and the contribution physiotherapists offer to improving health outcomes, along with information on barriers and gaps to quality care.

This background paper speaks to some of the more prevalent health challenges where physiotherapists can play a role in supporting better health outcomes. It was developed in collaboration with CPA member physiotherapists who are themselves Aboriginal, who practice in northern communities or who have conducted significant research into the delivery of physiotherapy to Aboriginal communities to determine the scope of the paper.

Working with the decision-makers

The Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) Program funds health services to First Nations peoples across Canada. Since June 2014, the Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) has been working with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) sharing information and experiences of physiotherapists to support a Join Review of the NIHB program.

The AFN recently released an Action Plan on Non-Insured Health Benefits. The AFN and Health Canada are currently working on how to engage with professions at the regional level.

If you would like more information, or to participate in regional discussions, please contact Kate O'Connor.