July 8, 2008

Canadian Doctor Shortage Disputed

An international organization has challenged the widely reported shortage of doctors in Canada with statistics showing no decline since 1987.

Data from the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development seen by Sun Media in Ottawa indicate that between 1987 and 2006, the number of medical doctors of all types per population in Canada has remained almost stable at 2.1 per 1,000 people.

Health economist R.G. Evans and K.M. McGrail of the University of British Columbia wrote in a paper the perceived shortage could be a shortage of physicians' services, not of physicians per se, perhaps reflecting declining average clinical workload per physician, the report said.

Among trends the Sun report cited were various surveys showing young physicians now are unwilling to work the long hours of previous generations. Another factor is Canada's aging demographic, in which older people generally require more time and treatment from doctors, the report said.