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ATRA's COVID 19 Response

COVID-19 Pandemic Information and Updates

The following FAQs are intended to support recreation therapists in their role as health care providers during this pandemic and raise awareness of legislation and resources that will impact practice decisions. The role of ATRA is to protect the safety of Albertans by establishing enter to practice requirements, professional standards of practice and code of ethics.

Q1. Nasal / Nasopharyngeal (NP) swab for Covid Testing effective December 1, 2020

Please check back often as the AHS response is changing rapidly to meet the healthcare needs of Albertans during the pandemic

Are recreation therapists authorized to perform nasopharyngeal (NP) swab for COVID-19 testing?

Please refer to:


COVID-19 Testing – Frequently Asked Questions

Who can perform COVID-19 testing?

Regulated Nurses, Advanced Care Paramedics (APCs), and Allied Health professionals* (as per zone processes) may perform COVID-19 testing. This includes assessing patients, obtaining informed consent and performing the testing.

 If testing is by nasopharyngeal (NP) swab, the regulated professional must be authorized to perform the restricted activity (RA) of “ inserting or removing instruments, devices, fingers or hands beyond the point in the nasal passages where they normally narrow” (Government Organization Act Schedule 7.1 Section 2 (1) (b) (ii)). Registered Nurses (RNs), Registered Psychiatric Nurses (RPNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), ACPs, Registered Respiratory Therapists (RRTs), Occupational Therapists (OTs), Physical Therapists (PTs) and Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) are among the regulated professionals who are authorized to perform the RA.

Allied Health professionals* - recreation therapists are not regulated allied health professionals and cannot perform the restricted activity listed above.

Can unregulated health care providers (e.g. Health Care Aides, Personal Support Workers) perform COVID-19 testing?

As per the Directive, unregulated healthcare providers cannot perform any COVID-19 testing (NP or Throat Swab). Unregulated healthcare providers cannot perform NP swabs at any time; it is a restricted activity they are not authorized to perform. Regulated health care professionals should not assign this activity to unregulated healthcare providers such as Health Care Aides and Therapy Assistants.

Recreation therapists cannot be assigned COVID-19 testing (NP or Throat Swab).

Q2. COVID 19 Guidance

Decisions related to the continued provision of Recreation Therapy services are the responsibility of each member in conjunction, when applicable, with the directions given by your employer or the agency(ies) / funding sources you have contracts with. For further information, ATRA recommends all Albertans consult the scientific expertise made available by Alberta Health Services Infection Prevention & Control

Q3. Is the ATRA Office still open?

ATRA normally functions from virtual offices throughout the province and as such can remain accessible to the public and members. The staff and the directors who volunteer their time work remotely and will continue to provide support to inquiries as possible. Due to challenging times for everyone additional time may be required to respond to your questions.

Q4. What duties can my employer ask me to perform during this time?

What is requested of you will vary based on your employer.  In general, your employer can ask you to perform any non-restricted activity (an activity that any health provider can perform).

If you do not feel competent to perform any activity asked of you, you can ask for required training to enable you to perform the activity safely and with competence.

Q5. I run a private practice providing therapeutic recreation service- can my practice remain open?

ATRA Members in private practice must access most current directives from the following public sources to guide them to make decisions on whether they can or should continue seeing clients or not. Please refer to these resources on a regular and ongoing basis to ensure you have the most current and reliable information.

Alberta Health https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx). Resources for businesses that are remaining open can be accessed from this link.

Alberta Health Services https://albertahealthservices.ca/topics/Page16944.aspx. AHS is providing regular updates to the public and employees.

Public Health Agency of Canada https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health.html

Government of Canada https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html

Q6. What are ATRA’s guidelines on the provision of recreation therapy services through communication technology?

ATRA cannot recommend or endorse any particular communication technology. In the event, your employer or agency considers the use of video conferencing applications as an alternative to in-person service delivery there are several legislative acts that must be considered.

ATRA members are expected to be aware of and comply with all regulatory expectations and legislation that applies to use of virtual technology for TR intervention. 

Please note that communication technology, including video conferencing applications must be secure in order to adhere to the requirements of:

  • Alberta’s Health Information Act (HIA),
  • the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPP)
  • and / or the Personal Information Privacy Act (PIPA).

To protect the transmission of personal and health information, the chosen application must provide end-to-end security and comply with the above listed legislative requirements. While video conferencing options are being considered, triage or follow-up by telephone is a secure option that can be used immediately.

Please note that the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner has prepared an advisory document on electronic communication with clients. They have also issued a guidance document on privacy considerations during a pandemic.



In summary, recommendations are evolving rapidly so we encourage you to closely monitor the updates provided by your employer and/or the Alberta Government.


Thank you Members!!

Your professional association is sending acknowledgement and appreciation of the extraordinary and amazing efforts of our frontline therapeutic recreation professionals - clinicians, educators and administrators.

ATRA recognizes our members are putting themselves at risk by going into work every day to provide their distinct role in Alberta healthcare.

Many Alberta families appreciate the dedication and commitment of Recreation Therapists whose amazing and creative programming skills continue to ensure their loved ones are practising safe social distancing all while participating in activities designed to sustain their quality of life.

For those of you who have been redeployed due to the COVID19 pandemic we applaud your flexibility to transform your complex professional skills and continue to protect the health and well being of Albertans.

To support our members, ATRA has extended our membership year to July 31, 2020 and is creating an Economic Hardship Waiver Program.

We will get through this together.