Canadian Institute for Health Information

09/11/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/11/2023 08:07

Pan-Canadian collaboration to support health workforce planning for physicians in Canada

In collaboration with the federal, provincial and territorial governments, the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) is building robust projection models around physician supply and demand. Factors impacting the number of physicians practising in Canada over 20 years - a summary look at various aspects of physician supply and demand - was released by CIHI today.

The work is part of a pan-Canadian project aiming to enhance the data and information available about health care professionals, with the goal of supporting decision-makers and planners as they determine what programs, policy options or regulatory shifts will help address health workforce challenges.

Projection models rely on a number of data sources and can be adjusted to measure the impact of different factors on the supply of physicians across the country.

For example, if the number of spots available in Canadian medical schools increased by 10% every year starting in 2019, then by 2030, those physicians would be starting to practise. In this scenario, from 2030 to 2039, the number of physicians would increase by an average of 2% per year because of the earlier increase in medical school enrolment.

"It takes 8 to 10 years to train a physician, so a long-range look at supply and demand can help decision-makers, but there are many impacts beyond medical school capacity," says Deborah Cohen, director of Health Human Resources at CIHI. "We need to be able to model different scenarios to find the right mix of strategies to deploy. This, along with more comprehensive data about other health care providers, will allow for better planning and allocation of resources."

Factors impacting physician supply and demand can include the number of physicians anticipated to retire, the number of graduates starting their specialty training, health care worker distribution, population density, population health status and health system use trends.