Canadian Medical Association

The CMA conducts research to support a vibrant medical profession and a healthy population. The information generated from our survey data helps health system planners at all levels work toward getting the right number, mix and distribution of physicians across Canada. It allows the CMA and other stakeholders to identify individual, organizational and system-level changes needed to better support physicians, residents and medical students, and to create a healthier medical culture and more effective health care system. Medical learners also use this data to inform decisions about their future careers. Ultimately, this data supports discussions and planning that will impact change in health, health systems and the health workforce.

Learn how the CMA ensures respondent confidentiality in its surveys.

Specialty profiles

Key facts about various specialties, their income, educational requirements, supply and more.

Explore specialty profiles

Physician workforce reports

The following statistical reports cover a broad range of topics related to the Canadian physician workforce.

Demographics and supply

Physician to population ratios

Physician workload

Physicians in training

Remuneration

Physician workforce surveys

The CMA uses surveys to ask physicians about their practices. Topics range from workload to adoption of information technology in their practices. These surveys observe changing trends in the physician workforce in Canada over the years.

CMA Physician Workforce Survey (2019)

While continuing to examine aspects of physicians’ practices such as their work setting and hours of work, the 2019 CMA Physician Workforce Survey focused on physicians’ thoughts on national licensure as well we their use of information technology.

CMA Physician Workforce Survey (2017)

The 2017 workforce survey aimed to collect information from physicians on a wide range of topics relating to their practices in Canada, including but not limited to workload, practice settings, remuneration methods, waiting times, use of information technology and employment. The information collected builds on previous work done through the National Physician Survey.

Physician resource questionnaires (1998-2003)

Prior to the National Physician Survey, the CMA conducted annual physician resource surveys. Select results from those surveys are posted on CMAJ.

National Physician Health Survey reports

The CMA’s Natioanal Physician Health Survey is conducted on a three-to-four-year cycle to better understand health and wellness among physicians and medical learners. The survey generates an up-to-date and relevant dataset for use by organizations, researchers, educators and stakeholders and is also used to inform and advance the CMA’s physician health initiatives. 

Significantly, the study uses an equity lens to examine the health and wellness of specific at-risk subgroups, which will help inform recommendations for system-level changes to improve physician health and wellness — from medical school through retirement.

Quick facts

Physician supply

  • As of January 2019, the number of active physicians (excluding residents) is 86,0921.
  • There are 2.41 physicians per 1,000 population2.

Physician mix

  • 52% are family physicians; 48% are specialists of other disciplines.
  • 39% (33,913) are aged 55 or older.
  • 43% are female; 57% are male. Two thirds (64%) of family physicians under age 35 are female.
  • 75% graduated from a Canadian medical school, 22% graduated from an international medical school, 3% not stated.

Physician distribution

  • 8%3of physicians practise in rural areas whereas 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 (52% of all physicians) and Newfoundland (37%) than in provinces such as Quebec, where only 10% graduated outside Canada5.
  • 74% of Canadian graduates practise in the province where they graduated. Graduate retention figures range from 38% in Nova Scotia to 86% in Quebec5.

Physicians in training

  • First year enrolment in undergraduate medical schools in 2017/18 was 2,916. This is an 85% increase since 1997/986.
  • 56% of first year medical students in 2017/18 were female; 44% were male.
  • Total enrolment in 2017/18 was 11,737; the number of graduates in 2018 was 2,8606.
  • The number of residents in postgraduate programs in 2018/19 was 16,508. Of these, 12,906 were Ministry-funded positions (3,439 at PGY-1); 1,732 were International Medical Graduates (IMGs) and 11,174 were Graduates of Canadian Medical Schools (GCMSs)7.
  • The practice entry cohort in 2018 was 3,543. This excludes visa trainees and re-entry trainees7.

CARMS match

  • In 2019, there were 2,760 Graduates of Canadian Medical Schools (GCMSs) matched to residency positions8.
  • 2% of GCMS participating in the match got one of their top three choices in the first iteration.
  • 2% of Canadian grads made family medicine their first choice.
  • There were 1,725 International Medical Graduates (IMGs) (excluding IMGs from the USA) participating in the match (mostly in a parallel process). By the end of second round, 391 had Ministry funded residency positions.

Physician migration

  • 181 physicians moved abroad in 2018. In the same year, 143 returned from abroad for a net loss of 389.
  • 1,856 physicians moved to another province/territory in 2018 (excluding residents). Net gains occurred in ON (200), BC (189), NS (13), NL (6), NU (6), NT (3) and YT(1).

International comparison

  • Canada has 2.7 physicians per 1,000 population (including residents) compared to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average of 3.5 (2017 or nearest year).
  • Canada’s physician to population ratio ranks 29 out of 36 nations ahead of the US, Chile, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Korea, and Turkey.

Sources

  • 1 ,5 & Physician Mix Physician workforce survey, January 2019, Canadian Medical Association
  • 2Supply, Distribution and Migration of Canadian Physicians, 2018, Canadian Institute for Health Information
  • 3CMA Postal Code file, January 2017, Canadian Medical Association
  • 42016 Census of Population, Statistics Canada
  • 6Canadian Medical Education Statistics 2018, Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada
  • 72018-2019 CAPER Annual Census of Post-MD Trainees, Canadian Post-M.D. Education Registry
  • 8CaRMS Match Results 2019, Canadian Resident Matching Service
  • 9Supply, Distribution and Migration of Canadian Physicians, 2018, Canadian Institute for Health Information
  • International Comparison: Health Statistics 2017, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
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