Substantial Equivalence Assessment

What is the Substantial Equivalence Assessment?

A Substantial Equivalence Assessment is a standardized, rigorous and transparent evaluation of the education of health care providers who did not graduate from an approved Alberta Health Care Aide (HCA) Program.

Health care providers who fit under this category may apply to the Alberta HCA Directory to  have their previous health care education assessed through the College of Licensed Practical Nurses (CLPNA) to determine whether the education received is considered substantially equivalent to the Government of Alberta 2019 HCA Provincial Curriculum. Eligible applicants include:

  • Graduates of a health care program outside of the province of Alberta;
  • Internationally Educated Nurses; and
  • Individuals with education as a health care aide, personal support worker, continuing care assistant, nurse or other profession considered to provide direct patient care.

About the Assessment

The received curriculum must meet a minimum equivalency of 75% to be considered substantially equivalent. An applicant that does not meet the English Language Proficiency requirement and/or with a curriculum that does not satisfy the minimum equivalency to the current Government of Alberta HCA Provincial Curriculum will be referred to an Alberta institution approved to offer the HCA Program for further options.

Approved  Health Care Aide programs can be found at

Assessment Requirements

Applicants are encouraged to review the Assessment Requirements webpage for more information about the Substantial Equivalence Assessment.

How long does the Substantial Equivalence Assessment process take?

The substantial equivalence assessment has an anticipated timeline of assessment of 4-8 weeks once the curriculum has been received. The health care provider will be required to complete the requirements outlined on the Assessment Requirements webpage and provide consent to having their assessment decision shared with their employer or future employer if necessary.

NEW* Changes to the Substantial Equivalence Assessment Policy

Alberta Health, in collaboration with the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta which operates the Alberta HCA Directory, has agreed to the following policy changes to the Substantial Equivalence Assessment process for HCAs educated outside of Alberta and for Alberta nursing students.

This policy will be in place for one year until December 31, 2021.

  • Individuals educated outside of Alberta that are seeking employment in Alberta as HCAs must begin the ‘substantial equivalent assessment’ process prior to employment.  Which includes:
    • Enrolling and submitting a complete application on the Alberta HCA Directory and paying the fee for assessment in full.
  • Employers may hire HCAs that are undergoing but have not yet completed the substantial equivalent process.
    • Employers must verify through the employer portal that the HCA being hired is enrolled on the Alberta HCA Directory.
    • The status for these HCAs will be ‘Sub. Eq (Assessment) – In Progress (Unapproved)’.

If the substantial equivalent assessment does not deem the applicant as substantially equivalent, the employer may:

  • Release the HCA from employment (in adherence of Employment Standards and any other requirements)
  • Have the HCA complete a Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition assessment by a licensed Alberta post-secondary institution, or
  • Continue with the HCA’s employment as “Deemed-Competent – In Progress”. Click here for more information on the CAPS Assessment.

Under these conditions, the HCA has one year to complete either their education or the CAP assessment.

Alberta Nursing students

Alberta Nursing students that are seeking employment in Alberta as HCAs must submit a complete application to the Alberta HCA Directory for enrolment and provide a copy of their post-secondary institution’s unofficial transcripts directly to  Alberta Nursing student applicants must indicate in the email what stream they are registering for (i.e. Alberta Nursing Student or Health Care Aide).

  • Nursing students will be subject to the program requirements outlined in the Alberta HCA Substantial Equivalence Assessment Policies.
  • It is the responsibility of the nursing student to ensure that their unofficial transcripts reflect the educational requirements outlined in the Alberta HCA Substantial Equivalence Assessment Policies.
  • The status for these nursing students will be “Sub. Eq – In Progress.”
  • Employers will be able to verify through the employer portal the nursing students’ enrollment on the Directory when the student nurse completes their application and submits a copy of their transcript.
  • Nursing students will only receive approval as Substantially Equivalent once unofficial transcripts have been received to and verified for approval.
  • For the duration of this provision, Alberta nursing students will not be required to pay the SE Assessment fee.

This policy expires on December 31, 2021.

As of January 1, 2022, individuals educated outside Alberta who are seeking work as HCAs in Alberta will be required to successfully complete the substantial equivalent assessment process.

Substantial Equivalence Assessment Toolbox