Society of Rural Physicians of Canada - Société de la médecine rurale du Canada
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Regional InformationComparative Regional Statistics

The Society of Rural Physicians of Canada have accumulated difficult to find information on rural medical economics and politics in Canada. This information includes rural gp/fp and specialist numbers. For a description of each region's methods of attracting and retaining rural doctors check the regional pages.

GP/FP Numbers
Rural GP/FP's numbers by region and year
Province 1996 1998 2000 2002 2005
Newfoundland  309  254  268 303 284
Prince Edward Island 30  31  35  38  38
Nova Scotia 285  299  289  300  329
New Brunswick  240  243 240  252  249
Quebec  1293  1328  1343  1377  1307
Ontario  1051  1022  1016  1088  1027
Manitoba  273 306  342 354 357
Saskatchewan  244  230  276  288 297
Alberta  476  476  557  578  600
British Columbia  534  567  582  639  640
Yukon, NWT and Nunavut* 23 19  31 25 35
Totals (Outside CA/CMA) 4758 4775 4979 5242 5163

The physician numbers are from the Canadian Medical Association who are currently using a common definition of rural as areas outside urban areas over 10,000 population. (Statistics Canada labels these areas Census Agglomerations and Census Metropolitan Agglomeration (CA/CMA).  A census agglomeration (CA) is a large urban area (known as the urban core) together with adjacent urban and rural areas (known as urban and rural fringes) that have a high degree of social and economic integration with the urban core. A CA has an urban core population of at least 10,000, based on the previous census.  A CMA has an urban core of over 100,000).

Note that while the areas described by this definition are certainly rural, the definition is quite restrictive as many areas that most doctors would consider rural are excluded.  By example the Yukon and North West Territories have high "urban" percentage populations because of the concentration of the population in Whitehorse (pop 21,405 at 2001 census) and Yellowknife (pop 16,541 at 2001 census).

Physician Distribution
1998 2002
2005
Province
Rural
Pop/GP
Rural
Pop/GP
Rural
Pop/GP
Urban
Pop/GP
CANADA AVERAGE
1,340 1,201 1,214
896
Newfoundland 1,208 906 966
621
PEI 1,978 1,598 1,598
777
Nova Scotia 1,176 1,111 1,013
690
New Brunswick 1,473 1,382 1,399
683
Quebec 1,202 1,130 1,191
848
Ontario 1,562 1,458 1,545
1,032
Manitoba 1,214 1,055 1,046
932
Saskatchewan 1,863 1,511 1,465
683
Alberta 1,459 1,264 1,217
879
British Columbia 1,017 843 842
802

Crude headcount ratios were determined using CMA data from January of the year and comparing it to census data based on the same definition.  In Canada in 2005 the population was 21% rural served by 16% of family physicians and 2% of specialists.  Workforce data shows that not only is the rural population older and sicker, rural GP's serve a different role in the country.  Rural GP's provide a broad range of services that are usually done by specialists in the city.

In 1998 the rural generalist was 2.8 times more likely to be male than female but the median ages of these groups (m=47 f=39) indicates that this ratio is narrowing as new graduates enter the rural workplace. A study shows that physicians entering rural practice between 1994 and 1998 were as likely to be female as male.


Specialist Numbers
Rural Specialist's numbers by region and year
Province 1996 1998 2000 2002 2005
Newfoundland  22  20 22 19 25
PEI  - -
Nova Scotia  88  98  104  106  101
New Brunswick 40  41  42 39 36
Quebec  305  280  274  278  232
Ontario  204  143  136  178  165
Manitoba  23 25 32  30 35
Saskatchewan  13  12 5
Alberta  44  35  41  54  49
British Columbia  105  98  97  97  85
Territories * - 1
Totals (Outside CA/CMA) 841 756 761 810 734

In 1998 Canada Medical specialists (19,307) outnumber Surgical specialists (7,529). In rural Canada the difference is less striking (446 Physicians to 310 Surgeons).
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