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Building careers and community: There’s a demand for speech-language pathologists in B.C.

Citadel Speech and Language Services fosters dynamic leaders dedicated to building community
Becca Yu, founder and clinical director of Citadel Speech and Language Services. Photo via Fontaine Photography

Speech-language pathology is a profession often hailed by its practitioners as incredibly fulfilling and rewarding. Yet, despite its profound impact on individuals' lives, it remains one of the most underrated and overlooked fields in healthcare. 

As the demand for qualified speech-language pathologists (SLPs) continues to rise, driven by a growing recognition of their vital role in communication and swallowing disorders, the shortage of professionals in British Columbia poses a significant challenge. 

Becca Yu, founder and clinical director of Citadel Speech and Language Services, sheds light on the uniqueness of this essential profession.

"It has been the most amazing, challenging and rewarding career that I could have wished for and I’m still working, learning and contributing to others constantly."

Despite the gratifying hallmarks of the profession, there's a growing need for qualified SLPs in B.C. In 2019, there were 1,371 registered SLPs working in B.C. or 27.5 speech-language pathologists per 100,000 British Columbians, according to a report by Health Sciences Association.

B.C. has the second-lowest number of SLPs per capita in Canada, which translates to hundreds of career opportunities in the province.

"With the shortage in the workforce, there is too much work and not enough qualified professionals," says Yu.

"We provide a supportive network for both our team and our clients that feels like family, and we stand out from other practices because of our focus and care of our staff."

High-quality team and client care

With the shortage comes an expectation for SLPs to manage larger than normal caseloads, contributing to personal and external pressures, which can affect mental health.

Yu focuses on the importance of her staff's mental health and well-being and incorporates the concept of "taking care of yourself first," ensuring her team avoids burnout, for example, and can provide the highest quality of client care.

Cognizant when putting together caseloads to give SLPs lots of time to get acquainted with each family and each child, Yu checks in regularly. "I make a conscious effort to have a two-way conversation about how everyone is feeling, so there's transparency," says Yu.

Coupled with a competitive pay structure, Yu looks to Citadel's core values when adding someone to their team, including transparency and community focus; an ideal candidate is team oriented, but also enjoys working independently.

"A lot of the candidates that I'm speaking with are graduate students," reveals Yu. "I'm more interested in how they'd like to see themselves grow in the profession and less about what they've already done."

In-demand profession

As an in-demand essential service, SLPs are often part of client's life-changing moments they help facilitate. Perhaps it's helping a child say their first word, providing treatment to an infant born prematurely with a swallowing disorder, working with a student with language delays, or helping a stroke survivor relearn eating or communicating.

"SLPs support two very important factors for a good quality of life: communication and eating," says Yu.

"Communication health is key for a person's well-being, but there's another side to SLPs rarely known, which is their training in helping support safe eating."

SLPs are a crucial part of the health-care sector to help people with direct care, often over prolonged time, with communication disorders and eating issues, among other debilitating problems that impede optimal learning, social development and emotional health.

Before establishing her private practice, Becca Yu served as the president of Speech and Hearing BC. Photo via Fontaine Photography

Giving back, building community

Yu is passionate about the collaboration and integration of services between service providers and health professionals. "I really value the community that's here in the Tri Cities and I'm always looking for ways to continue to support that growth and development," says Yu, who is a recent recipient of the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce Young Professional of the Year award. 

She’s extremely proud of their community giving program to support local causes. "Each member of our team has an opportunity to choose the organization(s) they'd like to contribute a part of our company's annual revenue to, and a donation is made by Citadel on their behalf."

"I encourage young people to explore speech-language pathology, or even those considering a second career option because we really need more qualified SLPs, and it's a tremendously fulfilling profession." 

For more information about Citadel Speech and Language services, visit If you’re interested in learning about the qualifications needed to become an SLP,  visit