Over the past 5 years, the growth rate in the number of physicians in Canada has more than doubled that of the population, according to the latest information published by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). Between 2014 and 2018, the Canadian population increased by 4.6% while the physician population grew by 12.5%. Manitoba and British Columbia had the largest increases at 17.8% and 17.4%, respectively, while Quebec and Nova Scotia had the smallest at 5.9% and 6.5%, respectively.

In 2018, there were almost 90,000 physicians in the country, equivalent to 241 physicians per 100,000 population — the highest number per capita ever.   

More female physicians in Canada than ever

The report also outlines the changing demographics of the physician population. Over the last 5 years, the number of female physicians in the workforce increased by 21%, while the number of male physicians increased by only 7%.

In 2018, almost half (47%) of all family physician specialists and 37.5% of other specialists were female.

Physician payments in Canada: Facts and figures

  • In 2017–2018, total gross clinical payments to physicians paid through medical care plans were $27.4 billion — a 3.9% increase over the previous year; this put the average gross clinical payment per physician at $345,000. 
  • In 2017–2018, the average gross clinical payment per physician ranged from $267,000 in Nova Scotia to $385,000 in Alberta.
  • The average gross clinical payment to family medicine physicians increased by 1.4% in 2017–2018 to $281,000. Payments to both medical specialists and surgical specialists remained unchanged from the previous year at $360,000 and $481,000, respectively.
  • Fee-for-service payments — payments for each service a doctor performs — as a proportion of total gross clinical payments increased slightly over the last 5 years to 72.6%, reversing a trend toward non-fee-for-service (or alternative clinical payments) observed since the late 1990s.


“Every year over the last 12 years, the supply of doctors in Canada has grown faster than the population. While we now have more physicians per person than ever before, many Canadians continue to report challenges accessing a family physician. This data can assist government health planners in understanding and aligning where physicians are with where there is the greatest need for them.”

— Geoff Ballinger, Manager, Physician Information, CIHI

About CIHI

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) is an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing essential health information to all Canadians.

CIHI works closely with federal, provincial and territorial partners and stakeholders throughout Canada to gather, package and disseminate information to inform policy, management, care and research, leading to better and more equitable health outcomes for all Canadians.

Health information has become one of society’s most valuable public goods. For 25 years, CIHI has set the pace on data privacy, security, accessibility and innovation to improve Canada’s health systems. 

CIHI: Better data. Better decisions. Healthier Canadians.

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