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Standards of practice are one component of a continuum of documents including codes of ethics, position statements, practice guidelines, essential competencies, and entry-to-practice milestones which direct the practice of professionals to provide quality care. In the physiotherapy profession, each regulatory organization in Canada has its own set of standards and code of ethics, even though physiotherapy practice is more similar than dissimilar across the country. In 2016, a set of Core Standards of Practice were developed to reflect current and future practice trends and to be generally applicable to all physiotherapists in Canada.

The Core Standards of Practice serve as a resource for the development of Standards of Practice that reflect the context, jurisdictional needs and legislation relevant to physiotherapy regulatory organizations across Canada.

The Core Standards of Practice have served as the foundation for this version of the College of Physiotherapists of Alberta’s Standards of Practice.

Purpose of Standards of Practice

Standards of Practice serve several purposes, including:

  • Defining the minimum performance expectations that regulated members of the profession must meet. Standards inform physiotherapists of the expectations, obligations, and requirements of their professional role.
  • Fulfilling the requirements for self-regulation and providing a frame of reference for regulatory organizations against which actual performance can be compared for quality practice.
  • Providing a reference to the public related to expectations for quality care delivered by professionals.


The Core Standards of Practice are based on assumptions which frame the context for the Standards. The assumptions underpinning the Standards are listed with reference to the professional physiotherapist, the regulatory organization, and the Standards themselves as follows:


  • Are typically autonomous self-regulated health-care professionals bound by a code of ethics.
  • Act in the best interests of clients and are committed to providing quality client-centered services.
  • Are expected to be knowledgeable of and comply with all standards at all times.

The regulatory organization

  • Develops/adopts Standards as a basis for monitoring registrants’ performance.
  • Is committed to serving and protecting the interests of the public.

The Standards

  • Outline minimum, mandatory performance requirements.
  • Are interpreted within the context of the regional jurisdiction.
  • Are one component of a continuum of professional documents outlining professionals’ practice.
  • Are to be applied as a comprehensive unit that physiotherapists must comply with to direct their practice at all times.

How the Core Standards of Practice are organized

The Core Standards of Practice are organized alphabetically for ease of access.

Each standard includes the following:

  • A standard statement that outlines the expected performance of the regulated member.
  • An Expected outcome that describes what clients can expect from services when the Standard is met by the physiotherapist.
  • Performance expectations that outline the actions that must be demonstrated by the physiotherapist to indicate how the Standard is met in practice. The expectations are not all inclusive nor are they listed in order of importance.
  • Related standards that provide complementary and/or additional information related to the specific standard.
  • Resources that support and provide additional information related to each standard. In addition to the resources listed, legislation in place in each provincial/territorial jurisdiction should also be considered. In Alberta this includes, but is not limited to: the Health Professions Act, Physical Therapy Profession Regulation, Workers Compensation Act, Diagnostic and Treatment Protocols Regulation, Health Information Act, and the Personal Information Protection Act.

A glossary of terms is included at the end of this document. Terms included in the Glossary are indicated in bold the first time they appear in the Standards.

The terms physical therapy/physiotherapy and physical therapist/physiotherapist are considered synonymous and are used interchangeably in this document.

Page updated: 05/04/2022