Physiotherapists call for freeze on cuts

It is getting harder for Canadians to access publicly available physiotherapy services, a national group says.  The Canadian Physiotherapy Association said Thursday that health-care reforms have shifted outpatient physiotherapy into the community and cut or eliminated public funding.

People across the country who do not have private health insurance plans or cannot afford to pay for physiotherapy in a private clinic may have to do without needed treatment, which jeopardizes their recovery from surgery, injury and illness.  The Canada Health Act includes hospital inpatient and outpatient physiotherapy services, but as hospitals face budget shortfalls, many have closed or privatized outpatient service. The national group called on provinces to impose a moratorium on cuts to services.  There are also high wait times and long waiting lists for publicly funded physiotherapy, the national group said. For example, rural residents in P.E.I. who need publicly funded outpatient physiotherapy services may have to wait a year or longer, the group said.  Physiotherapy has been shown to reduce pain, improve mobility, return patients to functional independence and improve quality of life and may delay or eliminate the need for surgery and help shorten hospital stays, the association said.