Mobility patterns vary between health care occupations
OTTAWA, Sept. 27 /CNW Telbec/ - Between 1996 and 2001, the province of
Alberta attracted more health care workers than any other province or
territory in Canada-surpassing B.C. as the number one destination for the
first time in 10 years. In addition to Alberta and B.C., Ontario and Prince
Edward Island were the only other two provinces that attracted more health
care workers than they lost over that five-year span. A series of reports from
the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), Distribution and
Internal Migration of Canada's Health Care Workforce, is the first of its kind
to use census data to look at the supply and migration patterns of the
majority of health care workers in Canada, including a number of individual
health occupations, such as dentists, pharmacists, physiotherapists,
physicians and registered nurses.
"Canadians depend on the availability of a broad and varied workforce to
tend to their health care needs," said Francine Anne Roy, CIHI's Director of
Health Resources Information. "Improving what we know about where these
workers are, and how they are moving, is crucial to developing the recruitment
and retention strategies required to maintain a strong health care workforce
into the future."
Comparisons of health care worker migration in the periods 1986 to 1991
and 1996 to 2001 show that most provinces lost more health care workers to
migration than they gained, with Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba and
Saskatchewan reporting the greatest net losses of health care providers
through interprovincial migration in both periods. Ontario and B.C. were the
only two provinces to report increases in both migration periods, though the
increases were much smaller in the latter period (1996 to 2001). Both P.E.I.
and Alberta experienced a loss in the first period, but an increase in the
second, with Alberta seeing the largest growth of any province (4%) in its
health care workforce between 1996 and 2001.
Health care workers are following similar migration patterns to the
Canadian workforce at large, in terms of which provinces they're moving to and
which provinces they're moving from. In 2001, there were just under
750,000 people classified as health care workers in Canada. This represents a
growth of 8% in the decade between 1991 and 2001, during a period in which the
general population grew by 10%. The ratio of health care workers per
100,000 people in Canada decreased by 2% between 1991 and 2001.
Health care workers more mobile than most
The latest data show that for the migration period from 1996 to 2001,
health care providers were generally more mobile than the Canadian workforce
at large, though the majority of that migration occurred between communities
within the same province, rather than between the provinces. Occupational
therapists, respiratory therapists and audiologists/speech language
pathologists were the most likely to move from one place to another; while
dentists, licensed practical nurses and medical laboratory technicians were
the least likely to relocate.
Characteristics of the migrant health care worker: urban and rural
A year-by-year analysis of physician migration using the Scott's Medical
Database indicated that, on average each year, 1.4% of Canada's active
physicians move from one province or territory to another, while another 5%
move from one community to another within the same province. Female physicians
were more likely to move intraprovincially, but interprovincial migration
rates were quite similar from one sex to another. Higher proportions of
English-speaking physicians migrated interprovincially, but French-speaking
physicians were more than twice as likely as English-speaking physicians to
move from one community to another. Younger physicians were more likely to
migrate than older physicians.
As with many of the other occupations listed in today's series of
reports, rural physicians tend to be more mobile than their urban colleagues;
their mobility patterns include movement away from rural areas of the country.
Every year, rural areas of the country lose, on average, 1.3% of their
physicians to urban areas of the country. In 2001, approximately 21% of the
Canadian population lived in rural and small-town areas of the country, a
proportion that has decreased by 2% since 1991. The 1996-to-2001 census period
saw an overall increase in the numbers of pharmacists, dentists and
physiotherapists moving to rural or small-town Canada, while more physicians,
medical laboratory technologists and dental assistants were moving to urban
areas, away from rural areas and small towns.
"Just like the average Canadian, health care workers migrate for
different reasons, some personal and some professional," said Dr. Roger
Pitblado, author of the CIHI reports. "It is important to track these
movements, but it is also important to understand how these migration patterns
relate to what is going on in neighbouring communities, and in the rest of the
country as a whole."
Aging workforce seen across occupations
Overall, Canadian health care workers are aging faster than the general
workforce. Of the occupational groups examined in this study, the average ages
in 2001 ranged from 35 years for dental assistants to 48 years for physicians.
This is up from 1991, when the average ages ranged from 32 years to 45 years.
The average age of a registered nurse rose from 39 in 1991 to 43 in 2001.
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 tables are available from CIHI's
website at www.cihi.ca.
Table 1. Top Three Destination Provinces With Positive Net
Interprovincial Migration Counts for the 1986-to-1991, 1991-to-
1996 and 1996-to-2001 Migration Periods (Table 2 in the
Figure 1. All Health Care Occupational Groups: Net Interprovincial
Migration Rates (Percent) by Province for the 1986-to-1991 and
1996-to-2001 Migration Periods (Figure 11 in the report)
Figure 2. Migrants as a Percentage of the Total Population or Workforce
(Based on Place of Residence Five Years Ago) for the Total
Population, General Canadian Workforce and Selected Health Care
Occupational Groups, Canada, 2001 (Figure 9 in the report)
Figure 3. Rural and Small-Town Net-Migration Rates (Percent) for Selected
Health Care Occupational Groups and All Non-Health Care
Occupations, Canada, 1986-to-1991, 1991-to-1996 and 1996-to-
2001 Migration Periods (Figure 12 in the report)
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