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INDEPTH: HEALTH CARE
Family doctors
CBC News Online | May 12, 2005

Canada needs more doctors.

According to a Canadian Medical Association Working Group on the Physician Workforce, physicians are looking for a better balance between their personal and professional lives.

In a June 2003 report, the working group pointed out that young family physicians spend fewer hours on direct patient care than they did 20 years ago.

In addition:
  • Canada loses 200 to 250 physicians to the U.S. each year, mainly specialists. Within 10 years, 10 per cent of a group of doctors completing post-graduate training will have emigrated.
  • Doctors in Canada worked an average of 53.8 hours per week in 2002. This includes those working part-time. It does not include time on-call.
  • Some European countries are legislating a maximum workload of 48 hours per week for physicians. If the same limit were implemented in Canada, there would be an instant shortage of 12,780 physicians.
  • The average number of physicians per 1,000 people in countries that are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is 2.9. In Canada, it is 2.1.

The College of Family Physicians, the Canadian Medical Association, and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons collaborated on the National Physicians Survey in 2004. It found:
  • Family doctors see an average of 117 patients per week during regular hours.
  • When on-call hours are included, family doctors typically work between 70 and 80 hours per week. More than 70 per cent of family doctors provide some type of on-call service in addition to regular hours.
  • About 60 per cent of doctors said they are not routinely accepting new patients.
  • 42 per cent said they were only accepting new patients under certain circumstances, such as friends or relatives of current patients or referrals from another doctor.
  • 18.2 per cent said they are not accepting any new patients
  • Only 20.2 per cent said their practices were accepting new patients without any restrictions.
FAMILY PHYSICIANS AND GENERAL PRACTITIONERS BY PROVINCE
Province/territory Population per family physician in 2002 Family physicians per 100,000 pop. in 2002
Nfld. 909 110
P.E.I. 1176 85
N.S. 935 107/td>
N.B. 1075 93
Que. 943 106
Ont. 1176 85
Man. 1075 93
Sask. 1042 96
Alta. 1031 97
B.C. 917 109
Yukon 621 161
N.W.T. 1389 72
Nunavut 2857 35
Canada 1042 96




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Not enough family physicians to meet patient needs
The College of Family Physicians of Canada

The Janus Project: National Family Physician Workforce Survey 2001
The College of Family Physicians of Canada

Statistical Information on Canadian Physicians
The Canadian Medical Association

The Canadian Institute for Health Information

The Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada

The Canada Health Act