Canadian Medical Association

Canadian Physician Resources ─ 2018 basic facts

Physician supply

  • Number of active physicians (excluding residents) as of January, 2018 = 84,2601.
  • There are 2.30 physicians per 1,000 population2.

1CMA Masterfile, January 2018, Canadian Medical Association 
2Supply, Distribution and Migration of Canadian Physicians, 2016, Canadian Institute for Health Information

Physician mix

  • 52% are family physicians; 48% are specialists of other disciplines.
  • 39% (32,978) are aged 55 or older.
  • 42% are female; 58% are male. Two thirds (65%) of family physicians under age 35 are female.
  • 74% graduated from a Canadian medical school, 23% graduated from a foreign medical school, 3% not stated.

Source: CMA Masterfile, January 2018, Canadian Medical Association

Physician distribution

  • About 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 (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 39% in Nova Scotia to 85% in Quebec5.

3CMA Postal Code file, January 2017, Canadian Medical Association
42011 Census of Population, Statistics Canada 
5CMA Masterfile, January 2018, Canadian Medical Association

Physicians in training

  • First year enrolment in undergraduate medical schools in 2016/17 was 2,915. This is an 85% increase since 1997/986.
  • 58% of first year medical students in 2016/17 were female; 42% were male.
  • Total enrolment in 2016/17 was 11,698; number of graduates in 2017 was estimated at 2,8116.
  • Number of residents in postgraduate programs in 2016/17 was 16,334. Of these, 12,933 were Ministry-funded positions (3,421 at PGY-1); 1,857 were International Medical Graduates (IMGs) and 11,076 were Graduates of Canadian Medical Schools (GCMSs)7.
  • The practice entry cohort in 2016 was 3,371. This excludes visa trainees and re-entry trainees7.

6Canadian Medical Education Statistics 2017, Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada 
72016-2017 CAPER Annual Census of Post-MD Trainees, Canadian Post-M.D. Education Registry

CARMS match

  • In 2017 there were 2,806 GCMS matched to residency positions.
  • 91% of GCMS participating in the match got one of their top three choices in the first iteration.
  • 34.0% of Canadian grads made family medicine their first choice.
  • There were 1811 IMGs (excluding IMGs from the USA) participating in the match (mostly in a parallel process). By the end of second round, 411 had Ministry funded residency positions.

Source: CaRMS Match Results 2017, Canadian Resident Matching Service

Physician migration

  • 154 physicians moved abroad in 2016. In the same year, 212 returned from abroad for a net gain of 58.
  • 1,101 physicians moved to another province/territory in 2016 (excl. residents). Net gains occurred in PE (8), BC (282), and YT (2).

Source: Supply, Distribution and Migration of Canadian Physicians, 2016, Canadian Institute for Health Information

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 3.4 (2015 or nearest year).
  • Canada’s phys/pop ratio ranks 28 out of 35 nations ahead of the US, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Korea, Chile and Turkey.

Source: Health Statistics 2017, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development