CPSA’s office will be closed on Sept. 30, as our team honours the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Our office will re-open on Oct. 3 at 8:15 am.

COVID-19 Info for Physicians

Information and resources for physicians during COVID-19. This page was last updated on May 24, 2022.

A message from the Registrar

“Physicians should not be reluctant to provide care, even when it may be extremely difficult to follow some components of CPSA’s Standards of Practice. CPSA will always consider the individual circumstances and context if a complaint arises during the COVID-19 pandemic. In an emergency situation, failure to meet standards is not considered unprofessional conduct if a physician can demonstrate they took all reasonable actions in their service to patients.”

– Dr. Scott McLeod, CPSA Registrar

COVID-19 FAQS for Physicians

To see other COVID-19 FAQs, click "All FAQs" and select the category "COVID-19" from the dropdown menu.

All FAQs

Where can I find information about how public health measures are being phased out?

Public health measures in Alberta will be phased out in 3 steps. Alberta entered Step 1 Feb. 9, 2022. Learn more about how the Alberta Government is easing measures.

Can a medical clinic require patients to wear masks at their appointments?

On Feb. 14, 2022, the provincial masking requirement was lifted for children 12 years and under. While you can request that children wear masks within a medical clinic, you cannot deny care if they refuse, or their guardian refuses on their behalf.

For children who cannot or will not wear masks, clinics may offer virtual appointments, or dedicate a specific time of day and exam room for in-person assessments.

All other Albertans must continue to wear masks in indoor public settings unless they have a medical mask exemption. This provincial masking requirement is expected to be lifted once Alberta enters Step 2 of easing public health measures.

Can a medical clinic require patients to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before attending an appointment?

Patients who are not fully vaccinated cannot be denied care. Clinics are obligated to follow strict Infection Prevention and Control standards, which are designed to protect against transmission in the absence of staff or patient vaccination. Many clinics also undertake COVID-19 prevention strategies, which may include using barriers, requesting mask use by staff and patients, arranging for virtual care, postponing non-urgent visits and scheduling appointments.

Can medical clinics require patients who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 to show a negative test result?

Physicians and medical clinic staff may ask unvaccinated patients if they have recently been tested for COVID-19 as part of the clinic’s point-of-care risk assessment. However, clinics cannot require patients to take a COVID-19 test before their appointment.

For unvaccinated patients without recent test results, clinics may offer virtual appointments, or dedicate a specific time of day and exam room for in-person assessments.

What are steps physicians can take to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in medical clinics?

Clinic managers and employers can ask their staff to continue wearing masks and any other necessary PPE while working within the clinic. While physicians cannot deny care to a patient who refuses to wear a mask, physicians may use their judgment and experience to determine if the patient may be treated safely in another way. Some steps to reduce risk include limiting walk-in appointments, providing virtual care when appropriate, maintaining physical distancing in waiting rooms and throughout the care space, performing pre-screening and point-of-care risk assessments, and continuing to follow CPSA’s Infection Prevention and Control general standards.

Can physicians or medical clinic staff attend work if they have tested positive for COVID-19?

All Albertans, including physicians and medical clinic staff, must follow the province’s isolation requirements.

Can medical clinic staff be required to wear masks?

Clinic managers and employers can require their staff to continue wearing masks and any other necessary PPE while working within the clinic as part of a workplace occupational health and safety policy aimed at protecting coworkers, patients and volunteers. For more details, see the Alberta Government’s COVID-19 as a Workplace Hazard resource.

Can medical clinic staff be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19?

There is no provincial mandate to exclude staff and volunteers who are not immunized against COVID-19 from work. However, individual employers may require employees to be immunized as part of a workplace occupational health and safety policy aimed at protecting coworkers, patients and volunteers. For more details, see the Alberta Government’s COVID-19 as a Workplace Hazard resource.

Registration

CPSA launches emergency register

As per clause 9(2) of the Physicians, Surgeons and Osteopaths Profession Regulation, CPSA Registrar, Dr. Scott McLeod, activated an Emergency Register on March 19, 2020.

The CPSA Emergency Register will allow physicians currently registered in another province or territory to temporarily work in Alberta during emergency circumstances, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. This registration is free and there is no formal registration process. Here is our criteria to apply:

Interested physicians must:

  • be on the general register (and unrestricted) in another Canadian jurisdiction.
  • send us a Certificate of Professional Conduct (CPC) from the jurisdiction(s) they are currently registered in (verbal confirmation from their College will be acceptable).
  • confirm that they have CMPA membership.
  • submit a piece of government issued photo ID.
  • agree to the terms outlined in the CPSA Registration Understanding and Acknowledgement for the Emergency Register, which CPSA will send you once you email us.

The CPSA Emergency Register expires after 60 days. Physicians may renew beyond this point.

Lastly, the CMPA will extend assistance to physicians are providing care outside of their usual field of practice or in a different province.

Physicians who are interested and meet the criteria can email us directly at registration@cpsa.ab.ca

Scope of practice flexibility

CPSA recognizes that during the COVID-19 pandemic, physicians may be required to work outside of their normal scope of practice and training. We are working hard to ensure you have all the resources you need to be able to focus on providing front-line care to Albertans during these are extraordinary times

During this time, any physician who has privileges and is working in an Alberta Health Services (AHS) or Covenant Health facility can be deployed in any way they see fit.

Physicians will be exempt from the CPSA’s requirement to work within their recent experience and training as long as they are doing so at the direction of AHS and for the duration of the pandemic only. We will also not require a change in scope of practice form or approvals in these instances.

In addition, the CMPA will extend assistance to physicians are providing care outside of their usual field of practice or in a different province.

This temporary exemption does not apply to physicians who are working in private practice. Physicians who are in private practice or physicians who wish to wish to change their scope of practice after the pandemic is concluded will need to apply for a formal change in scope of practice through CPSA.

Prescribing

Health Canada has updated their COVID-19 prescribing exemptions since the first notice went out on March 19, 2020. Physicians (or any prescriber with authority in Alberta to prescribe controlled drugs) are able to verbally initiate prescriptions for controlled substances if needed. Please refer to Health Canada’s FAQ document for more information, and read CPSA’s updated notification.

Questions?

Physician inquiries: 1-800-561-3899
Other inquiries: 780-423-4764

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