Snapshot of health care in Canada: What you need to know

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TORONTO – How many doctors are there across the country and how much are we spending on our visits to the doctor?

The Canadian Institute for Health Information’s latest report released Thursday is providing a snapshot of what health care and the physician workforce in Canada currently look like.

There are more female doctors, more medical school graduates and more doctors across the board than ever before. There’s also more access to doctors in rural areas and there are more doctors per 100,000 people.

Government payouts to doctors also grew – the price tag in 2012 reached $22 billion.

Here’s what you need to know from the report:

There are more doctors in Canada than we’ve ever had before: There were 75,142 doctors working in 2012. That’s a four per cent increase from the year before and this is the sixth year in a row that an increase in doctors has been documented. CIHI says this number will keep ballooning. The number of medical graduates has grown every year since 2001.

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More than half of this group is family care physicians:  Of those 75,000-plus physicians, 38,156 are family medicine doctors. Another 36,986 are specialists, like oncologists, pediatricians, radiologists, surgeons or cardiologists, to name a few.

Read more: Can’t find a family doctor? Well-off more likely to secure appointments, Canadian research suggests

The number of doctors per population is growing, especially in rural areas. There are 214 doctors per 100,000 in Canada. Doctors have been flocking to rural parts of Canada – since 2008, the number of doctors increased five times faster than the rural population. In 2012, there were 6,400 physicians in rural Canada.

There are more women in the physician workforce. In the past five years, the number of female doctors rose by almost 27 per cent. In 2012, 37 per cent of doctors were women. 42 per cent of them were family care physicians and another 32 per cent were specialists. Quebec, New Brunswick and Ontario had the highest number of female doctors in their workforce.

Our payout to doctors hit $22 billion last year – nine per cent more than we paid in 2011. This price tag is how much the country racked up from a year’s worth of doctor’s services. Physician services make up 15 per cent of overall health spending.

Read more: By the numbers: Hospital wait times

The average doctor received $328,000 for their services. This is what they get to work with to cover his or her services, salary, everyday tasks and client list. This is the average gross income and isn’t necessarily the take-home pay.

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Manitoba is the only province that didn’t report an increase in doctors. On the other end of the spectrum, British Columbia and Newfoundland both saw the largest increases of doctors in their provinces. The smallest increases were in Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island and Quebec.

Canadian doctors are, on average, 50 years old. The average range is from 48 to 52 years old but doctors seem to be youngest in Newfoundland and Alberta and oldest in PEI and Ontario. As younger physicians enter the workforce, though, this trend will change. Last year, 16.2 per cent of Canada’s doctors were newly-trained, meaning they’d received their degrees within the past decade.

Read more: By the numbers: Doctors’ fees across Canada

Doctors are coming to Canada; there isn’t brain drain in this industry.  There are more doctors coming into Canada to work than leaving for opportunities abroad.

To be specific, Canada gained 77 new doctors from the international pool. And in the past five years, more Canadian doctors came home than went abroad, with a net gain each year from 29 to 99 physicians.

Another 743 doctors moved from province to province – most headed to B.C., Quebec and Alberta. Like most patterns in other sectors, most doctors left Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan over the past five years.

Read the full report here.

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