Physician supply growing faster than population

Newfoundland has one of the highest physician-per-population ratios

Published on November 15, 2012
Newfoundland and Labrador physician statistics for 2011 from the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

The Telegram

The number of physicians practising in Newfoundland and Labrador increased 2.3 per cent in 2011 over the previous year, according to a new report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).

The total number of physicians in the province in 2011 was 1,179, including 627 family medicine doctors and 552 specialists.

The report says all provinces and territories, except the Yukon, reported an increase in physicians. Nationally, there were 72,529 physicians across the country, representing an increase of 4.1 per cent over the previous year.

The number of physicians in Canada has increased at a faster pace than the country's population, the CIHI report points out. It says the Canadian population increased by 4.7 per cent between 2007 and 2011, while the physician population increased at almost three times that rate, 13.9 per cent.

In 2011, there were 209 physicians in Canada per 100,000 population. The CIHI says this is the highest physician-per-population ratio ever recorded in the country.

Provinces with the highest physician-per-population ratios were Nova Scotia with 240 physicians per 100,000 population and Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec, which each reported 231 physicians per 100,000 population.

Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island had the lowest physician-per-population ratios in the country, 181 and 178 physicians per 100,000 population, respectively.

The average age of physicians in Newfoundland and Labrador, 48.1 years, continues to reflect the overall aging population. The average age of family doctors in Newfoundland and Labrador was 47.2 years in 2011 and the average age of specialists, 49.2 years.

The average age of all physicians nationally was 50.5 years in 2011.

A breakdown of the numbers for Newfoundland and Labrador shows about 39 per cent of doctors in the province are foreign trained, compared to just over 60 per cent Canadian medical graduates.

The majority of physicians in Newfoundland and Labrador practise in urban centres, 818, compared to 361 in rural areas.

Out of Newfoundland and Labrador's total physician numbers in 2011, 627 were family doctors and 552 were specialists.

Nationally, the report says the proportions of family medicine and specialist physicians are relatively equal, with family medicine physicians representing between 50 and 53 per cent of the physician workforce since the late 1970s.  

In 2011, family medicine physicians represented 50.7 per cent of the physician workforce in Canada. There were 36,769 family doctors in the country and 35,760 specialists.

The full CIHI report can be found online at