Medical Tuesday Blog

Canada ranks 29th out of 33 in practicing physicians per thousand

Apr 9

Written by: Del Meyer
04/09/2017 7:58 AM 

by Steven Globerman, Bacchus Barua, and Sazid Hasan

The Fraser Institute

While the provision of health care involves the use of a considerable number of inputs, including medical equipment and pharmaceuticals, health-care services still draw largely on the expertise of health-care professionals. Physicians, in particular, play a prominent role. In this regard, while Canada has one of the most expensive universal health-care systems among developed countries, the number of physicians relative to the Canadian population ranks well below the average for developed countries. Indeed, Canada ranks 29thout of 33 high-income countries for number of practicing physicians per thousand population.

Unless physicians in Canada are much more productive than physicians in other OECD countries, or patients in other OECD countries consume fewer services per visit to a physician than do Canadian patients, it would seem that Canada suffers from a relative scarcity of physician service

Some additional evidence supporting the claim that Canadians would be better off, on balance, if the supply of physicians’ services relative to the population increased is provided by the relatively long wait times Canadians endure for access to the services of specialist physicians, as well as media reports of Canadians who are actively—and unsuccessfully—looking for a regular physician. Also relevant is a Commonwealth Fund survey of adults in 11 countries that found that only 43% of Canadian respondents reported that they were able to get a same day or next-day appointment with a doctor or nurse when they needed medical attention—the lowest rank among all countries surveyed . . .

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Canadian Medicare does not give timely access to healthcare, it only gives access to a waiting list.

–Canadian Supreme Court Decision 2005 SCC 35, [2005] 1 S.C.R. 791

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