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Expanded physical therapy program coming to Surrey

CANADA, June 23 - More people in Surrey and the Fraser Valley will be able to pursue careers in physical therapy at a new training space coming to Surrey.

“Physical therapists provide vital and life-improving services for British Columbians. We know there’s an increasing need for their services across the province, including the Fraser Health region. That’s why we are investing in this new location to support current and future program expansions at UBC in Surrey,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “This capital investment will support the growth of this program, work toward meeting the demand for physical therapists today and well into the future.”

With provincial support, UBC has purchased the second floor of the City Centre 1 building in Surrey adjacent to Surrey Memorial Hospital. The space will be transformed to create teaching and research laboratories, seminar rooms, student learning commons, offices for faculty and multi-purpose space for assessment, treatment and health promotion. Currently, the UBC master of physical therapy program welcomes 100 new learners each academic year with students training at the UBC Vancouver campus and in Prince George, in partnership with the University of Northern British Columbia. A total of 20 new seats will be available this fall, with those students moving to the new location in Surrey when it opens in 2023.

“This new space is an important part of UBC’s commitment to meeting the growing needs of Surrey and the Fraser region,” said Santa Ono, president and vice-chancellor of UBC. “By continuing to expand UBC’s presence in the Fraser, we’re creating new opportunities for students to learn and train locally where they’ll build deep connections with communities. We know learners are more likely to practise where they train, and this space will help encourage more physical therapists to stay and serve families in the region.”

The Province is investing $24.9 million, with UBC funding $7.9 million for the project. Work is entering the procurement phase this month with construction anticipated to start in fall 2022. The space is expected to open to students in fall 2023.

“UBC is grateful to the Province for this strategic investment in training the next generation of physical therapists in the Fraser,” said Dermot Kelleher, dean, faculty of medicine and vice-president of Health at UBC. “The new site also paves the way for future expansion of other UBC health-professional programs, such as occupational therapy and midwifery in collaboration with health partners to better serve the needs of students, patients and communities.”

Aman Bassi, UBC second-year physical therapy student, said: “It is a great privilege to have UBC and the department of physical therapy come to the Fraser region as it is a huge step in training more health-care professionals for this rapidly growing region. UBC’s presence will help foster an environment of learning, growth and development in this field of practice across the Fraser Valley for future physical therapy students.”

In the future, other health programs, like occupational therapy and midwifery, may be able to use the new facilities, creating collaborative learning environment for students attending UBC programs in Surrey.

This announcement supports the StrongerBC Economic Plan, which moves British Columbia forward by tackling the challenges of today, while growing an economy that works for everyone. The long-term plan builds off B.C.'s strong economic recovery and works to address two long-standing challenges - inequality and climate change - by closing the skills gap, building resilient communities, and helping businesses and people transition to clean-energy solutions. The plan sets two main goals for the Province – inclusive growth and clean growth – and puts forward six missions to keep B.C. on track.


Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation –

“Taking action to close B.C.’s skills and talent gap is a key priority of the StrongerBC Economic Plan. Our generational commitment to accelerate talent development ensures that British Columbians have access to the skills they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow.”

Adrian Dix, Minister of Health –

“Physical therapists provide a critical aspect of comprehensive health care. Every day, their services ensure British Columbians recover from accidents, injuries and chronic conditions in confidence. Expanding the physical therapy program at UBC is one example of our government's commitment to meeting our health human-resource needs by working in close collaboration with post-secondary institutions.”

Dr. Victoria Lee, president and CEO, Fraser Health –

“Every day, physical therapists do exceptional work across the Fraser Health region to help their patients recover and rehabilitate. This program expansion will help meet high demand for their services, helping people remain healthy and independent as long as possible and return to their families and the activities they love sooner. We are grateful to the provincial government and University of BC for their continued partnership, and for this significant investment in training that will ensure these important services remain in place for many years to come.”

Quick Facts:

  • The project cost is $32.8 million, including $20.5 million for the purchase of the space and $12.3 million for renovations.
  • Physical therapists are identified as high-demand jobs, with 1,860 job openings in B.C. expected between 2021 and 2031.
  • Physical therapists plan and implement treatment programs with a focus on prevention and mitigation of disease, injury and disability through therapeutic exercise programs.
  • Occupational therapists support people who are recuperating from or impaired by illness, injury, developmental disorders or mental-health difficulties by encouraging rehabilitation through the performance of activities required in daily life.
  • Midwives play an important role in B.C.’s health-care system, which includes providing primary care to women and their families during pregnancy, labour, birth and the postpartum period.