One-quarter of our international medical graduates are Canadians who
OTTAWA, Aug. 20 /CNW Telbec/ - Since the 1970s, the percentage of
foreign-trained doctors practising in Canada has declined considerably. A new
report released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) shows
the number of international medical graduates (IMGs), as a proportion of the
physician workforce in Canada, decreased from 33% in the 1970s to 22% in 2007.
The decline was seen in all provinces and in the territories and may be
largely due to the aging and retirement of the wave of British- and
Irish-trained physicians who began practising in earlier decades, as well as
smaller proportions of new foreign-trained doctors setting up practice in
Canada. The report also found that more than one-quarter (27%) of Canada's
foreign-trained doctors actually grew up in Canada but studied overseas.
"The findings of the study were revealing," says Geoff Ballinger, Manager
of Health Human Resources at CIHI. "Canada has been known to attract doctors
from other countries; however, the proportion of these doctors has been
declining since 1975."
Internationally trained doctors more likely to practise in rural areas in
The study found that the number of foreign-trained doctors varies between
provinces, as well as between urban and rural areas. In 2007, Quebec (10.7%)
and Prince Edward Island (13.8%) had the smallest proportion of
foreign-trained doctors in their physician workforces, while Saskatchewan
(48.8%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (35.2%) had the largest. The study also
found that foreign-trained doctors who began to practise in the 1990s were
significantly more likely to change province or territory over the next 10
years than those who began in the 1970s.
In all provinces, except Ontario and Quebec, doctors in rural areas were
more likely to be foreign trained as opposed to doctors in urban settings.
IMGs make up more than half (52.8%) of new physicians starting practices in
rural or remote areas and represent approximately one-quarter (25.6%) of all
doctors in rural or remote areas.
A shift in the countries that contribute the largest number of Canada's
In the years following World War II, Canada's medical schools were
challenged to keep pace with the expanding needs of the post-war population.
Canada was viewed as an attractive place to live and relatively large numbers
of foreign-trained doctors chose to emigrate here. As such, between the late
1960s and the early 1970s, Canada licensed more internationally trained
doctors than it graduated domestically, and most of Canada's foreign-trained
doctors came from Britain and Ireland.
From 2003 to 2007, the majority of new doctors (69.0%) practising in
Canada were trained in Canadian medical schools. This time period also
experienced a shift in the main providers of Canada's IMGs to South Africa
(13.9% of all new IMGs), India (8.6%) and Egypt (6.3%).
The numbers of new IMGs entering Canada to practise medicine from member
countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
have shown declines. In contrast, other than India and Hong Kong, all non-OECD
countries included in the study have shown increases.
"It is interesting to see that Ireland is no longer on the list of top 10
supplier countries and that 8 of the 14 countries included in the study are
non-OECD members," says John David Stanway, Senior Analyst of Health Human
Resources at CIHI and lead author of the report. "Foreign-trained doctors are
a declining proportion of our physician workforce; however, those from
developing countries are a growing share of that group."
The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) collects and
analyzes information on health and health care in Canada and makes it publicly
available. Canada's federal, provincial and territorial governments created
CIHI as a not-for-profit, independent organization dedicated to forging a
common approach to Canadian health information. CIHI's goal: to provide
timely, accurate and comparable information. CIHI's data and reports inform
health policies, support the effective delivery of health services and raise
awareness among Canadians of the factors that contribute to good health.
The report and the following figures and table are available from CIHI's
website, at www.cihi.ca.
Figure 1 International Medical Graduates (IMGs) Versus Canadian-Educated
Medical Graduates (CEMGs), Canada, 1972 to 2007 (adapted from
Figure 1 in the report)
Table 1 Percent of International Medical Graduates (IMGs) and Canadian-
Educated Medical Graduates (CEMGs), by Country of Upbringing
(adapted from Table 1 in the report)
Figure 2 Comparison of Change in Proportion of New U.K.- or Irish-
Trained International Medical Graduates (IMGs), Other IMGs and
Canadian-Trained Physicians Still Active Over 10 Years, Canada,
Newly Active 1972 to 1976 Versus Newly Active 1993 to 1997
(adapted from Figure 5 in the report)
Figure 3 Percent of Physicians in Canada Who Are International Medical
Graduates (IMGs), by Province and Territory, 1977, 1987, 1997,
2007 (adapted from Figure 7 in the report)
Figure 4 Percent of All Physicians in Canada Who Are International
Medical Graduates (IMGs) by Community Size (CMA/CA (Urban) or
Rural and Remote) by Province, 2007 (adapted from Figure 11 in
Figure 5 Percent of New Physicians (1972 to 1976 or 1993 to 1997) Active
in Their First Canadian Jurisdiction of Practice, After 10
Years, by Place of MD Graduation (adapted from Figure 6 in the
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