| Last Updated March 10, 2022
Turn your compassion into real career opportunities.
Canada's health care aide schools have plenty of experience at helping caring individuals like you become valued contributors to the well-being of people who require daily physical assistance. The vocational training they offer can result in being able to land meaningful positions with employers in one of the country's fastest-growing occupational sectors.
What Makes Health Care Aides So Vital
People with disabling medical conditions often need help with the kinds of routine tasks that most of us take for granted. And health care professionals like nurses and doctors frequently rely on skilled support workers to handle many of the basic duties required in providing direct care to patients.
That's why health care aides—sometimes called personal care aides or home support workers—are incredibly valuable in settings like residential care homes and hospitals. Plus, the need for them keeps growing. These statistics paint part of the picture:
- In 2010, seniors (i.e., people aged 65 and older) accounted for only about 14 percent of Canada's population. But by 2036, that number is expected to rise to 25 percent.*
- It's estimated that, at any given time, about one million Canadians receive personal care support at home. More than 80 percent of them are seniors.*
- Over 10 percent of seniors aged 85 and older need assistance to walk, bathe, and use the washroom.*
- Patients living at home or in long-term care environments receive as much as 80 percent of their direct care from health care aides.**
What Being a Health Care Aide Entails
The job responsibilities of people in this field can differ a little based on the settings they work in. For example, in a hospital, a health care aide tends to perform clearly defined tasks as directed by supervising nurses or doctors. However, in a home care environment, the role tends to involve more independence in terms of being able to decide which tasks need to be done and how they should be carried out.
Regardless of the setting, health care aides are often involved in:
- Assisting patients with routine activities like eating, getting dressed, and taking care of personal hygiene
- Helping patients get physical exercise, assisting with their general mobility, and transporting them from place to place by wheelchair (or, in some cases, on beds or stretchers)
- Taking basic vital signs, monitoring and documenting basic health indicators, collecting samples for lab testing, and performing other routine medical procedures
- Relaying messages between different health professionals and departments or facilities
- Providing encouragement and emotional support to patients and their families
What You Can Earn
Health care aides in Canada make a median hourly wage of $19.66. But in some regions of the country, experienced aides make over $36.00 per hour, which is equivalent to a full-time salary of about $74,800 or more.***
Plus, a lot of regions across the country are facing a possible shortage of health care aides due to a rising need for them caused by the aging population. For example, in Alberta, employment of people in the occupational group that includes health care aides has been projected to grow at an average annual rate of 3.6 percent between 2016 and 2020, which is faster than average.**** So, depending on the supply of qualified workers to fill the expected job openings, employers may have to increase what they pay in order to attract or keep the people they need.
How Long You Can Expect to Be in School
Vocational programs that train health care aides usually last less than one year, and that often includes a multi-week practicum in a real care setting. That means you may be able to begin your health care career in only a matter of months.
Of course, it's a good idea to keep in mind that some employers prefer their health care aides to also possess current certification in areas like food handling, first aid, and CPR. But those certifications are usually quick to earn, and sometimes they are included as part of a full health care aide program.
Move Forward With Your Goals Right Now
Finding a Canadian vocational college to help you become a health care aide is easy. Just search by your postal code using this site's online school finder!
* Canadian Institute for Health Information, Health Care in Canada, 2011: A Focus on Seniors and Aging, document last accessed on November 25, 2020.
** Human Resources for Health, "The evolving role of health care aides in the long-term care and home and community care sectors in Canada," website last accessed on July 31, 2017.
*** Job Bank, Government of Canada, website last accessed on February 28, 2018.
**** Government of Alberta, website last accessed on April 7, 2017.