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

City of Nanaimo takes measures to protect people experiencing homelessness during pandemic

City to provide additional water sources and washrooms, council directs creation of food plan

Nanaimo Art Gallery teen art group creating COVID-19-inspired art

Code Switching group lives on online after physical meetings cancelled due to pandemic

Shoplifting way down, break-and-enters up in Nanaimo during COVID-19 pandemic

Break-and-enters to businesses increased 65 per cent in the last two weeks of March, say police

City of Nanaimo helps residents stave off boredom with ‘wellness bingo’

Recreation coordinators promote social well-being and physical activity through online platforms

Trudeau rejects mandatory stay-at-home order for now; COVID deaths up

The virus has now infected more than 10,000 Canadians and cost 130 their lives

Family uses social media to help truckers find places to eat during pandemic

Restaurants Serving Drivers in Western Canada seeks to provide a list of places open for drivers

Advocates sound alarm over COVID-19 limiting access to contraceptives, abortion

The COVID-19 outbreak has hit sexual-health services from almost every angle

Cowichan couple won’t self-isolate after returning from overseas

New law requires 14 days of self-isolation when returning to Canada

B.C. health officer says homemade masks may prevent spread of COVID-19 to others

Practising physical distancing, frequent hand washing and resisting touching your face are proven methods

B.C.’s senior home staff measures show results in COVID-19 battle

Dr. Bonnie Henry’s order restricts care aides to one facility

‘A matter of human decency’: Truckers’ union calls on gas stations, rest stops to fully re-open

Teamsters Canada wants feds, provinces to put pressure on facilities to re-open for transport workers

B.C. unveils $3.5M COVID-19 emergency fund for post-secondary students

Money will help students cover living expenses, food, travel, portable computers

Most Read