How to Access Physiotherapy

  • Nova Scotia Physiotherapy Association

How to Access Physiotherapy

Publicly-Funded Physiotherapy

In Nova Scotia, physiotherapy is covered by our provincial healthcare system.  You can access outpatient physiotherapy through your local hospital; however, there are often lengthy wait times to receive care. Please contact your local physiotherapy outpatient clinic to find out more information on wait times. These times can vary based on your condition.

If you are scheduled for orthopaedic surgery (such as for a knee or hip replacement), you will most likely receive some inpatient physiotherapy following the surgery. You may also be referred for outpatient physiotherapy once you are released from hospital to assist with your recovery.  Other examples of people who receive referrals for physiotherapy within the public health system include young children with chronic conditions such as cerebral palsy or cystic fibrosis and seniors or those with serious chronic illnesses living in extended care facilities. 

Privately-Funded Physiotherapy

Nova Scotia workers who are injured on the job and are insured under the Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia may receive physiotherapy covered by their employer’s WCB insurance premiums.  Injured workers can go directly to a physiotherapist.  There is no need for a referral from a doctor.

Individuals can easily access private physiotherapy: simply call or walk into your local physiotherapy clinic – no physician referral is required, and there is usually no (or a minimal) wait time to receive treatment.  In addition, physiotherapy is commonly included as one of the eligible benefits that group health insurance programs cover. Take note, however, because the benefit may be capped at a specific maximum amount per year (such as $500 or $1,000), after which you will be required to pay out-of-pocket.  While it is increasingly rare, some insurance companies still require a physician referral before they will reimburse physiotherapy treatment expenses. Make sure you fully understand the terms of your insurance before starting treatment.

Physiotherapists must advise you of any cost for treatment before they start treating you, and they should be open to discussing the approximate number of treatments you should require once an initial assessment has been completed.  If you are in doubt about your coverage and potential costs, talk to your physiotherapist, physician, insurance company, or, if applicable, facility director (e.g., hospital, extended-care facility).

You can find Nova Scotia physiotherapy clinics (both public and private) by visiting NSPA's Find-a-Physio Directory.

Physiotherapy Associations

     Canadian Physiotherapy Association

     Listing of Canadian Provincial Physiotherapy Associations

     American Physical Therapy Association

     World Confederation for Physical Therapy

Physiotherapy Regulation

In Canada, physiotherapy is a regulated profession. An individual cannot offer physiotherapy services or claim to be a physiotherapist unless they have met the profession’s rigorous educational requirements and passed its national licensing exams. Regulation by an organization of professional peers ensures that physiotherapists maintain the highest standards of quality care and that the public is protected through a complaints process. For more information about professional regulation, please click on the following links:

     Nova Scotia College of Physiotherapists

     Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators

Physiotherapists can be found all across Nova Scotia.

Find a Physio