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Physiotherapists working in Newfoundland in the 1950’s saw the importance of creating an affiliation with the Canadian Association of Physiotherapists (CPA). In 1958 they were successful in creating a Newfoundland Branch of CPA (the Branch) which has since been renamed the Newfoundland and Labrador Physiotherapy Association (NLPA). The Branch recognized the importance of registering physiotherapists and formed a legislation committee, its inaugral members were Margaret Cochran , Margaret Hitchens and Judi Snelgrove. National CPA executives came to visit a number of times. The secretary of CPA at that time, Mrs. Margaret Miller, advised that there ought to be a separate group responsible for legislation and registration.

At all points along the inception of this new regulatory body in NL, the national CPA was supportive of the need for representation of both the professional and legislative sides of practice and reinforced the Branch and the legislative body had 2 different mandates.

The Branch enlisted the services of a young St John’s lawyer, Bill Marshall who drafted the original act. The Physiotherapy Act was proclaimed by the Newfoundland Government in 1970. When the provincial legislature enacted the Physiotherapy Act, it established the Newfoundland and Labrador College of Physiotherapists (the College). The regulation of the profession of physiotherapy was thus delegated by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to the profession itself.

Margaret Hitchens relates that at the time they were trying to decide the process for the initial registration procedure. Some thought it ought to be by longest serving members but others including Margaret thought it would be fairest if the names were entered, from the start, in alphabetical order. As a result, Mr. Keith Ambler was the first registered physiotherapist in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Act was reopened in 2006 to enable another significant development, namely direct access to Physiotherapy for members of the general public. A doctor’s referral is no longer required for a person to obtain outpatient and many inpatient services and service from private practitioners.