Number of physicians in Canada in line with population growth

    CIHI study shows average age of doctors continues to rise; 1 in 5 now
    over 60 years old

    OTTAWA, Oct. 25 /CNW Telbec/ - The number of practising physicians in
Canada reached 62,307 in 2006, increasing by 4.9% over five years. This
represents a similar rate of increase to the population at large (4.0%),
according to a new report released today by the Canadian Institute for Health
Information (CIHI). The rate of increase was slightly higher for family
physicians (5.7%) than for specialists (4.0%), with the number of family
practitioners rising from 96 per 100,000 Canadians in 2002 to 98 per 100,000
in 2006. The number of specialists relative to the size of the population saw
a slight decrease over this five-year period, from 93 per 100,000 to 92 per
    The Supply, Distribution and Migration of Canadian Physicians, 2006 is
CIHI's latest annual report tracking changes in the number of physicians and
how they're moving within Canada, as well as their demographic
    "Research suggests that younger doctors joining the workforce tend to
practise differently than their older counterparts," says Geoff Ballinger,
CIHI Manager of Health Human Resources. "They tend to put more emphasis on
work-life balance, and may see fewer patients on average than older physicians
as a result. It's important for health planners to understand these
differences in practice patterns, particularly as a greater number of doctors
approach their retirement years."

    More young women joining physician ranks, but MD workforce still aging

    Between 2002 and 2006, the number of female physicians grew by 13%,
compared to an increase of just 1% for male physicians. Overall last year,
women made up 33% of the total physician workforce and nearly half (49%) of
all medical doctors under the age of 40.
    Meanwhile, the average age of doctors in Canada continues to rise,
reaching 49 years of age in 2006, an increase of 1.5 years since 2002. Over
the past five years, the number of physicians aged 60 or more increased by
28%, while the number of physicians under the age of 40 decreased by 10%. This
has caused the proportion of physicians under 40 years of age (23%) to become
relatively similar to that of those 60 years of age and over (19%).

    More physicians returning to Canada

    The number of physicians who moved abroad decreased by 57% over the past
five years. Furthermore, for the third year in a row, the number of physicians
returning from abroad in 2006 was greater than the number leaving Canada 
(238 compared to 207). Many more physicians (717) moved between jurisdictions
within Canada in 2006, a migration rate that has been relatively constant over
the past five years. Between 2002 and 2006, Alberta and British Columbia were
the only two jurisdictions that continuously experienced net gains in
physicians from interprovincial migration.
    CIHI's study also found that most of the overall increase in physicians
is attributed to an increase in Canadian-trained physicians. The number of
doctors trained in Canada grew by 5.2% between 2002 and 2006, compared to an
increase of less than 1% (0.7%) in the number of foreign-trained physicians.
Doctors trained abroad come primarily from the United Kingdom and Ireland,
South Africa, India, Egypt and the United States.

    About CIHI

    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

    Figure 1.  Number of Family Medicine Physicians and Specialists, 2002 to
               2006  (Figure 1 in the report)

    Figure 2.  Distribution of Physicians by Age Group, Canada, 2002, 2004
               and 2006 (Figure 5 in the report)

    Figure 3.  Average Age of Physicians by Physician Type, Canada, 2002 to
               2006 (Figure 6 in the report)

    Figure 4.  Number of Physicians Who Moved Abroad or Returned From Abroad,
               Canada, 2002 to 2006 (Figure 10 in the report)

For further information:

For further information: Media contacts: Christina Lawand, (613)
241-7860 ext. 4310, Cell: (613) 299-5695,; Leona
Hollingsworth, (613) 241-7860 ext. 4140, Cell: (613) 612-3914,

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