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language proficiency iconLANGUAGE PROFICIENCY

Canada has two official languages: English and French. English is the most common language spoken in most provinces and territories. French is most commonly spoken in Quebec, but is also spoken in parts of Ontario, Eastern Canada and in French-speaking communities in the rest of the country.

One of the biggest challenges faced by international pharmacy graduates (IPGs) when they come to Canada is a language barrier. Pharmacists rely on their ability to communicate effectively with patients, staff and other health professionals. A major role of a Canadian pharmacist involves counselling patients and their family members. People rely on pharmacists to provide expert advice and respond to questions about medications and health concerns.

Many tasks in the pharmacy also require a lot of verbal communication, as well as reading and writing. Pharmacists must often review drug information, complete forms and correspond with other health professionals, pharmacy managers and suppliers. A considerable amount of pharmacists’ practice involves educating patients and communicating with other members of the healthcare team in writing and/or verbally.

All of the provincial and territorial regulatory authorities require IPGs to take a language proficiency test and achieve a minimum score in each of the categories for reading, writing, speaking and understanding. Not all language test results are accepted in all provinces and territories. Please verify the language tests accepted in your province or territory of choice before taking any of the language proficiency tests.

Although these language tests can indicate a basic knowledge of English or French, pharmacists must be able to communicate and understand the language at a much more advanced level that includes many technical components associated with being trained as a pharmacist and healthcare professional.

If you do not speak English or French at an advanced level, it is strongly recommended that you begin language training as soon as possible. This will greatly increase your chances for success in all the steps involved in obtaining a licence.