22 Countries Have Higher Doctor-Population Ratios than Canada

Commentary, Frontier Centre, Healthcare

CALGARY — Canada’s doctor-population ratio ranks 23rd out of 30 countries (tied with New Zealand) for doctors per 1,000 people according to a new Frontier Centre backgrounder.

A review of the most recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) data shows Canada had just 2.2 doctors per 1,000 people in 2005. The OECD average is 3.0 physicians per 1,000 people.

In 2005, Greece, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Austria, France, Germany, Portugal, Sweden, the Slovak Republic, Hungary, Ireland, Australia, Luxembourg, Finland, the United States and the United Kingdom all had more physicians per 1,000 people when compared with Canada.

The number of physicians varied from 2.4 per 1,000 in the United Kingdom to 3.8 in Spain, Switzerland and Italy; 4.0 in Belgium and 4.9 in Greece. “When Canadians fall ill, they should hope it is on vacation in the Swiss Alps or on a beach in Spain, Italy or Greece,” said Frontier Senior Fellow Mark Milke.

Physician increases of 10 per cent or more per 1,000 people since 1990 in 24 countries

Twenty-four other countries increased their physician-people ratio by 10 per cent or more. For example, the doctor-people ratio increased 16 per cent in New Zealand, 18 per cent in Japan, 20 per cent in Finland, 23 per cent in Australia, 24 per cent in Denmark and 27 per cent in Switzerland. The doctor-people ratio increased by 40 per cent in Ireland, 48 per cent in the Netherlands, 50 per cent in the United Kingdom and 59 per cent in Austria.

Physician increases of less than 10 per cent per 1,000 people since 1990 in 4 countries

In comparison, Canada’s ratio of doctors to people (2.2 per 1,000 in 2005, up from 2.1 in 1990) increased only 5 per cent. Besides Canada, only Hungary, Italy and Poland failed to increase their ratio by 10 per cent or more.

The backgrounder, Canada’s Doctor Shortage: Comparing Canada with the World can be downloaded by clicking here or copying and pasting .

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