Doctor growth in Canada more than doubles population increase over last 5 years

Manitoba and B.C. registered the largest increases in doctors at more than 17 per cent each

The number of doctors in Canada is growing at a rate more than double that of the population, says a report by the Canadian Institute of Health Information.

Canada’s population increased by 4.6 per cent between 2014 and 2018, while the number of physicians grew by 12.5 per cent over the same time period, says the report released Thursday.

Manitoba and B.C. registered the largest increases in doctors at more than 17 per cent each while Quebec had the lowest level of physician growth at 5.9 per cent, just below the 6.5 per cent growth in Nova Scotia.

While the supply of doctors has grown faster than the population over the past dozen years, many Canadians continue to report difficulties finding a family physician, said Geoff Ballinger, the institute’s physician information manager.

“The big question is why does there seem to be this disconnect between the growing numbers of physicians and the fact that around the same proportion of Canadians are still having a challenge accessing physicians,” he said in a telephone interview from Ottawa.

The Canadian Institute of Health Information is an independent, not-for-profit organization that works with governments and stakeholders to gather and provide information on policy, management, care and research.

The report found that in 2018 there were almost 90,000 physicians in Canada, which is equivalent to 241 physicians per 100,000 population, the highest number per capita ever, said Ballinger.

Statistics Canada figures from 2016 show 15.8 per cent of Canadians aged 12 and older, or about 4.8 million people, reported they didn’t have a regular health care provider.

The figures show Quebec, at 25.6 per cent, had the highest proportion of residents who were without a regular doctor, followed by Saskatchewan at 18.7 per cent and Alberta at 18 per cent.

ALSO READ: B.C. has the longest healthcare wait times in Canada: report

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau made an election promise earlier this week to ensure all Canadians have access to a family doctor.

Ballinger said the higher figures were encouraging for patients looking for a regular physician.

“The issue that we don’t have a handle on yet is whether those increased numbers of physicians are perhaps in parts of the province where the greatest need is,” he said. “We are seeing across the country that patients do have an issue trying to get access to a physician, particularly patients more in rural and remote areas.”

The report also reveals a changing demographic trend among the physician population, citing more female doctors in Canada than ever before.

Since 2014, the number of female doctors increased by 21 per cent, while male doctors rose seven per cent, Ballinger said.

The report tracked doctor incomes and found total gross clinical payments through medical plans was $27.4 billion in 2017-2018, an increase of 3.9 per cent over the previous year, Ballinger said.

It concludes average annual gross clinical payment for a doctor in Canada was $345,000, ranging from $267,000 in Nova Scotia to $385,000 in Alberta.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

From the archives of the Haida Gwaii Observer

50 YEARS AGO (1970): Nine of 12 entries in the Beach Buggy… Continue reading

BC Ferries reopens limited hot food service between Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert

Release on July 8 says hot food will be served in packaging

VIDEO: Masset Dance Troupe presents beachfront ‘promenade performance’

Troupe performed ‘A Mid Summer Day’s Dream’ for family, friends on July 4 and 5

UPDATE: Masset anti-racism rally postponed

The Yahk’ii event, which means ‘truth’ in Haida, will be rescheduled at a later date

Haida matriarchs occupy ancient villages as fishing lodges reopen to visitors

‘Daughters of the rivers’ say occupation follows two fishing lodges reopening without Haida consent

VIDEO: Masset Dance Troupe presents beachfront ‘promenade performance’

Troupe performed ‘A Mid Summer Day’s Dream’ for family, friends on July 4 and 5

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Washington’s NFL team drops ‘Redskins’ name after 87 years

The franchise was given the name back in 1933, when it was still in Boston

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Most Read