Physician Facts

  • Between 2008 and 2009, the national physician supply increased by 4.1%, more than triple the rate of growth of the Canadian population as a whole (1.2%).
  • In 1979, there were 150 physicians for every 100,000 Canadians; by 2009, that ratio had climbed to 201 per 100,000.
  • In 2009, Canadian faculties of medicine awarded a record number of medical degrees (2,344), an increase of 34% over 2004 and 47% over 1999.
  • In 2009, 295 physicians returned from abroad, compared with 203 who left Canada to work in other countries. This represents a net gain of 92 doctors—the highest gain in the last five years.
  • Physicians' clinical payments totalled more than $17 billion in 2008–2009, representing an increase of 9.6% over the previous year—the largest annual payment increase in 10 years.
  • According to CIHI's 2010 National Health Expenditure Trends report, physician expenditures is the fastest-growing category of health spending.
  • In 2009, the average age of a physician in Canada was 49.7, about the same as it was in 2008 (49.8).
  • Almost three-quarters (72%) of Canadian-educated medical graduates who set up practice in the province of their graduation were still there 10 years later. Retention of Canadian-educated medical graduates who set up practice in a province other than their place of graduation was much lower (44%) and only slightly higher than that of international medical graduates (37%).

Nursing Facts

  • Between 2005 and 2009, Canada's regulated nursing workforce grew by nearly 9%.
  • Growth in the registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) workforces has exceeded the growth of the Canadian population.
  • In 1992, there were 824 RNs for every 100,000 Canadians, compared to 789 RNs for every 100,000 Canadians in 2009.
  • Between 2005 and 2009, the average age of a Canadian nurse remained stable at 45.
  • In 2009, 37% of RNs in the workforce had obtained a baccalaureate as their highest level of education in nursing, compared to 32% in 2005.
  • The number of LPNs increased by more than 18% between 2005 and 2009, outpacing growth in the Canadian population.
  • The number of nurse practitioners (NPs) more than doubled between 2005 and 2009 and increased by 22% between 2008 and 2009. NPs represent only 0.7% of the total registered nursing workforce.


Supply, Distribution and Migration of Canadian Physicians, 2009Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).

National Physician Database, 2008-2009 Data Release. Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).

Regulated Nurses: Canadian Trends, 2005-2009. Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).