The Canadian Institute for Health Information released a report titled Workforce Trends of Occupational Therapists in Canada last November 20, 2007. Quoted below was the response of the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists to this report as posted on their website.
Reported increase in occupational therapists in Canada is insufficient to meet rising demands
A report released today by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) indicates that the number of occupational therapists in Canada has risen by 27% over five years from 2000 to 2005. This data confirms that occupational therapy is one of the fastest growing professions in the health care system. Yet, according to the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT), despite constant growth in the number of trained occupational therapists, Canadians continue to experience problems with accessing occupational therapy services.
“We are encouraged by the data that shows a rise in the supply of occupational therapists in Canada, but we continue to be concerned about the ability of the Canadian public to receive occupational therapy services,” said Dr. Susan Forwell, CAOT president. “The number of occupational therapists may have increased, but shortages are reported in many provinces, particularly in rural areas.”
The CIHI report indicates that 90% of the 11,400 occupational therapists in Canada work in an urban centre. Almost one-third are also employed in part-time positions, further reducing the availability of services to meet the rising need for occupational therapy.
The need for occupational therapy services is increasing due to the aging population, greater awareness of the needs of individuals with disabilities, deinstitutionalization of persons with mental illness and recognition of the value of rehabilitation. As a result, a recent CAOT review of labour market information and workforce studies indicates a strong demand for occupational therapists across Canada.