Canadian Medical Association

Canadian Physician Resources ─ 2019 basic facts

Physician supply

  • Number of active physicians (excluding residents) as of January, 2019 = 86,0921.
  • There are 2.41 physicians per 1,000 population2.

1CMA Masterfile, January 2019, Canadian Medical Association
2Supply, Distribution and Migration of Canadian Physicians, 2018, Canadian Institute for Health Information

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 a foreign medical school, 3% not stated.

Source: CMA Masterfile, January 2019, 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 38% in Nova Scotia to 86% in Quebec5.

3CMA Postal Code file, January 2017, Canadian Medical Association
42016 Census of Population, Statistics Canada
5CMA Masterfile, January 2019, Canadian Medical Association

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; number of graduates in 2018 was estimated at 2,8606.
  • 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.

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

CARMS match

  • In 2019 there were 2,760 GCMS matched to residency positions.
  • 79.2% of GCMS participating in the match got one of their top three choices in the first iteration.
  • 33.2% of Canadian grads made family medicine their first choice.
  • There were 1,725 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.

Source: CaRMS Match Results 2019, Canadian Resident Matching Service

Physician migration

  • 181 physicians moved abroad in 2018. In the same year, 143 returned from abroad for a net loss of 38.
  • 1,856 physicians moved to another province/territory in 2018 (excl. residents). Net gains occurred in ON (200), BC (189), NS (13), NL (6), NU (6), NT (3) and YT(1).

Source: Supply, Distribution and Migration of Canadian Physicians, 2018, 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 3.5 (2017 or nearest year).
  • Canada’s phys/pop ratio ranks 29 out of 36 nations ahead of the US, Chile, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Korea, and Turkey.

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

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