More than 2,000 physiotherapy grads across Canada waiting to take licensing exams

Pooja Vyas and her husband, Nischay Modi, had always dreamt of opening up a physiotherapy clinic in Cambridge.

Those plans have since been delayed multiple times.

Vyas, a pediatric physiotherapist and Modi, a physiotherapist assistant, worked in the United States before they moved to Canada in 2019. They have since been waiting to take a clinical exam to become fully licensed practitioners.

“The exam so far has been cancelled four times now, so we’ve been in limbo for these two years,” said Vyas.

They join a backlog of more than 2,000 physiotherapy graduates across Canada. Many are upset with the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators (CAPR), who have not been able to offer a virtual exam without technical difficulties.

The latest round of exams saw only 50 per cent of candidates able to complete it. CAPR has since cancelled all further virtual clinical examinations.

“The mental health and the financial stress that we’ve been going through … it’s been so traumatizing,” said Vyas.

CAPR says it plans to reinstate its in-person clinical exam but did not provide a timeline.

Amanda de Chastelain, the president of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association, said the backlog is putting a strain on the industry.

“We are in a crisis in physiotherapy in Canada and we need more physiotherapists working,” said de Chastelain.

She adds that while some graduates can work on interim licenses, there are limitations and they often earn less money than fully licensed physiotherapists.

The association held a town hall and saw over 500 participants share their concerns about the cancellation of the virtual exams. De Chastelain is among those calling for changes to licensing.

“It was heartbreaking hearing some of their stories but it’s their reality, we’ve known about it since the beginning of the pandemic. We’re walking with them and we’re advocating for them,” she said.

“The CAPR BOD [board of directors] is disheartened that this has been such a challenging and stressful situation for many, particularly the candidates. Now is the time that leaders in the profession need to come together, collaborate, and find a way forward. The CAPR is a willing participant in those discussions," CAPR said in a statement.

The ordeal has left Vyas and Modi waiting again to start the next chapter of their lives in an industry that’s waiting for more help.