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​Basic physician facts

Canadian Physician Resources ─ 2017 basic facts

Physician supply

  • Number of active physicians (excluding residents) as of January, 2017 = 83,1591.
  • There are 2.28 physicians per 1,000 population2.

1CMA Masterfile, January 2017, Canadian Medical Association
2Supply, Distribution and Migration of Canadian Physicians, 2015, Canadian Institute for Health Information

Physician mix

  • 52% are family physicians; 48% are specialists of other disciplines.
  • 40% (32,883) are aged 55 or older.
  • 41% are female; 59% are male. Two thirds (64%) of family physicians under age 35 are female.
  • 75% graduated from a Canadian medical school, 22% graduated from a foreign medical school, 3% not stated.

Source: CMA Masterfile, January 2017, Canadian Medical Association

Physician distribution

  • Less than 8%3 of physicians practise in rural areas whereas about 19%4 of Canadians live in rural areas. The figure for family physicians is 14% compared to 2% of specialists3.
  • There is a higher concentration of foreign medical graduates in Saskatchewan (53% of all physicians) and Newfoundland (38%) than in provinces such as Quebec where only 9% graduated outside Canada5.
  • 74% of Canadian graduates practise in the province where they graduated. Graduate retention figures range from 39% in Nova Scotia to 85% in Quebec5.

3CMA Postal Code file, January 2015, Canadian Medical Association
42011 Census of Population, Statistics Canada
5CMA Masterfile, January 2016, Canadian Medical Association

Physicians in training

  • First year enrolment in undergraduate medical schools in 2015/16 was 2,919. This is an 85% increase since 1997/986.
  • 53% of first year medical students in 2015/16 were female; 47% were male.
  • Total enrolment in 2015/16 was 11,685; number of graduates in 2016 was estimated at 2,8536.
  • Number of residents in postgraduate programs in 2015/16 was 16,200. Of these, 12,841 were Ministry-funded positions (3,370 at PGY-1); 1,867 were International Medical Graduates (IMGs) and 10,974 were Graduates of Canadian Medical Schools (GCMSs)7.
  • The practice entry cohort in 2015 was 3,204. This excludes visa trainees and re-entry trainees7.

6Canadian Medical Education Statistics 2016, Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada
72015-2016 CAPER Annual Census of Post-MD Trainees, Canadian Post-M.D. Education Registry

CARMS match

  • In 2016 there were 2,833 GCMS matched to residency positions.
  • 92% of GCMS participating in the match got one of their top three choices in the first iteration.
  • 36.2% of Canadian grads made family medicine their first choice.
  • There were 1815 IMGs (excluding IMGs from the USA) participating in the match (mostly in a parallel process). By the end of second round, 408 had Ministry funded residency positions.

Source: CaRMS Match Results 2016, Canadian Resident Matching Service

Physician migration

  • 162 physicians moved abroad in 2015. In the same year, 272 returned from abroad for a net gain of 110.
  • 739 physicians moved to another province/territory in 2015 (excl. residents). Net gains occurred in PE(2), QC (10), MB (3), SK(3) and BC (38).

Source: Supply, Distribution and Migration of Canadian Physicians, 2015, Canadian Institute for Health Information

International comparison

  • Canada has 2.6 physicians per 1,000 population (including residents) compared to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average of 3.3 (2014 or nearest year).
  • Canada’s phys/pop ratio ranks 28 out of 35 nations ahead of the US, Japan, Poland, Mexico, Korea, Chile and Turkey.

Source: Health Statistics 2016, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Prepared by:

CMA Physician Data Centre
Canadian Medical Association
Updated March, 2017