Health care aides (HCAs) work under the direct or indirect supervision of a regulated health professional, such as a nurse, in a variety of settings including, but not limited to:
- home care
- assisted living facilities and lodges
- long-term care and designated supportive living facilities
- acute care hospitals
- private agencies
- individual clients
HCAs provide basic health services, assistance and support with activities of daily living for clients who have medical conditions or major functional limitations.
In Alberta, the HCA occupation is currently unregulated. To ensure consistent education of the HCA workforce in Alberta, the Alberta government developed and owns the HCA Provincial Curriculum. Licensed post-secondary institutions use this curriculum to educate people who want to be HCAs. The most recent update to the provincial curriculum was in 2019.
New license agreements for post-secondary institutions on hold indefinitely
Effective October 1, 2017, the Alberta government implemented a moratorium on licensing new post-secondary institutions to offer the HCA Provincial Curriculum. The moratorium remains in effect until further notice, to allow the government sufficient time to:
- evaluate the workforce supply and demand, as well as clinical placement challenges and opportunities; and
- plan and allocate resources to conduct efficient license application reviews
Alberta HCA Directory
The Alberta HCA Directory acts as a database to collect information on the HCA workforce. The directory provides information about HCAs in Alberta, and has a number of resources including news, education and job boards.
All HCAs working for a publicly funded employer must maintain continued enrolment on the Alberta HCA Directory.
Alberta Health has mandated that HCAs currently on the directory who completed the Alberta HCA Curriculum (2013), or previous versions, must update their education by successfully completing the Alberta HCA Bridging Modules on the directory by June 30, 2022.
Learn more about the Health Care Aide Competency Profile – 2018.
How to become a HCA in Alberta
To become a HCA in Alberta, you have 4 options:
- Complete a HCA Program in Alberta. This must be through a post-secondary institution licensed to use the 2019 provincial curriculum, and you must pass the Provincial Alberta HCA Examination to obtain an Alberta HCA certificate. Contact the licensed post-secondary institutions listed below for additional program information, including admission requirements, course length, format and tuition cost.
- If you have previous education and training comparable to the Alberta HCA Program, you may obtain an Alberta HCA certificate by undergoing a Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition evaluation and passing the Provincial Alberta HCA Examination. This evaluation is available at a cost through some licensed post-secondary institutions offering the HCA program.
- If you have educational experience similar to a HCA, were a health-care provider, internationally educated nurse, or are a nursing student, you may complete a Substantial Equivalence Assessment. More information about the Substantial Equivalence Assessment process is on the Alberta HCA Directory website: Substantial Equivalence Assessment.
- Some employers will hire HCAs and use the Provincial Competency Assessment Profile tool to assess their skills and competencies. The employer provides HCAs with appropriate education. These HCAs are considered ‘deemed competent’.
HCA program information
The following entry requirements must be met to be eligible for entry into a licensed HCA program:
Candidates must possess knowledge of computer and technology tools to be successful in the program. Candidates must:
- be able to communicate, research and understand information
- know how to use computer to surf web and email
- be able to critically evaluate and understand how technology can affect one’s behaviour
- be able to create, produce content and effectively communicate using email, media, internet
Academic English Language Arts (ELA)
- Grade 11, 20-2 level course, with a minimum score of 60% achieved or Canadian jurisdiction equivalent; or
- English 20-1 with a minimum of 60% achieved or Canadian jurisdiction equivalent; or
- English 30-1 or 30-2 with a minimum of 55% or Canadian jurisdiction equivalent; or
- Deemed equivalent by completion of ACCUPLACER (an assessment placement test)
Note: Students who have not completed the ELA, 20-2 level requirement and achieved the minimum grade are subject to completing the ACCUPLACER assessment test. This can include students out of province, out of country or mature students who have been out of school for a significant length of time.
English Language Proficiency (ELP)
Candidates where English is a Second Language (ESL) must meet the English Language Proficiency requirement in addition to the Academic English requirement. Equivalencies are as follows:
- Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) of a minimum of 7 in each of the 4 language skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing) and not an average of 7; or
- attending high school in Canada. Studies must have been in English at an approved Canadian high school (Grades 9, 10, 11, 12) with at least 3 consecutive years of full-time academic study; or
- completing a recognized post-secondary degree or diploma program in Canada. The program must have involved at least 2 full years of full-time, consecutive academic study in English.
Approved English Language Proficiency Tests
Tests benchmarked at a CLB 7 for all 4 language skills (speaking, listening, reading and writing). Official results must be submitted directly to the post-secondary institution.
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic: 6 (no section score below 5.5);
- Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet Based Testing (TOEFL iBT): 71;
- Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) General: 7 (with no section score below 6); and
- Canadian Language Benchmark or Milestones Test (7 in each strand, not an average of 7).
Note: Test Currency: results must have been obtained within 2 years of the start date of the program. Test Validity: IELTS (Academic) and TOEFL results are valid for 2 years from the day of testing. Results that expire prior to the start date of the program will not be accepted.
Contact the post-secondary institutions listed below for additional program information including admission requirements, course length, delivery and tuition costs.
Licensed post-secondary educational institutions (Curriculum-2019)
- ABM College
- Academy of Learning
- Alberta Business and Educational Services (ABES)
- Bay River College
- University nuhelot’įne thaiyots’į nistameyimâkanak (Blue Quills University)
- Bow Valley College
- CDI College
- Columbia College
- Excel Academy
- Northwestern Polytechnic
- Health Care Aide Academy
- Keyano College
- Lakeland College
- Lethbridge College
- MaKami College
- Medicine Hat College
- MTG Healthcare Academy
- Nightingale Academy
- NorQuest College
- Northern Lakes College
- Red Deer Polytechnic
- Robertson College
- Rosewood College
- Training Inc.
- University of Alberta, Campus St Jean
Licensed post-secondary educational institutions teaching combined ESL and HCA program
- Columbia College
- Bow Valley College
- NorQuest College
- Red Deer Polytechnic
For questions related to HCAs or the Alberta HCA Directory, email: [email protected]
For questions related to the Substantial Equivalence Assessment, email: [email protected]
For questions related to the HCA exam, email: [email protected]
Connect with the Health Workforce Partnerships Branch:
Email: [email protected]
Health Workforce Partnerships Branch
PO Box 1360, Station Main
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 2N3
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