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New countries becoming major suppliers of Canadian MDs

The proportion of physicians who practise in Canada but were trained elsewhere remains constant at about one-quarter of the total, but the list of countries providing the majority of those doctors is changing rapidly.

In a recent bulletin, the CMA's Canadian Collaborative Centre for Physician Resources (C3PR) reported that South Africa remains Canada's largest supplier of international medical graduates (IMGs), but its overall share of the total is dropping.

For instance, 200 South African physicians received their medical licences in Canada in 2000, but by 2012 that number had dropped to 58. The bulletin says that even though South Africa remains Canada's largest supplier of IMGs - its total has more than doubled since 1996, to 2,592 physicians - the number of new arrivals is decreasing.

"Canada was criticized internationally for actively recruiting from a country that desperately needed to retain its doctors for its own citizens," the report says. "Possibly as a result of this pressure, there has been a decrease in the number of physicians arriving from South Africa each year."

The report also says that India is becoming a major supplier of IMGs licensed to practise here, with total rising from 1,306 in 1996 to 1,731 this year.

The report says that in 2012, Canada's major suppliers of new IMGs licensed to practise here were:

  • South Africa (58)
  • India (53)
  • Libya (37)
  • United States (36)
  • Pakistan (33)

"Canadians also study abroad in Ireland, and while the number setting up practice in Canada each year has been around 20, this number may well increase as larger graduating cohorts compete for postgraduate training positions here," the report says. "This will lead to eligibility for full licensure and mobility within our country."

The report concludes that although Commonwealth countries remain Canada's largest suppliers of IMGs, countries such as Libya, Iran and Iraq "are now contributing significantly to the number of new arrivals."

One major sign of this change is found in the proportion of IMGs provided by the United Kingdom. In 1995, 25% of IMGs practising in Canada had been trained in the UK, but today the total stands at only 3%.

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