Thank you very much.
Good afternoon. On behalf of the Canadian Institute for Health Information, I would like to thank you for inviting us to participate in your study of labour shortages.
I am accompanied by Carole Brulé, who is one of our managers of the HHR databases we collect in CIHI.
CIHI is an independent, not-for-profit corporation that provides essential information on Canada's health system and the health of Canadians. Established in 1994, we are funded by federal, provincial and territorial governments. We report to an independent board of directors representing government health departments, regional health authorities, hospitals and health-sector leaders across the country.
CIHI works in partnership with stakeholders to create and maintain a broad range of databases, measurement tools and standards on health information. We produce reports on health care services, population health, health spending and health human resources.
CIHI has been collecting detailed information on physicians and nurses since its inception. More recently, we created new databases that provide demographic and workforce information on pharmacists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, medical laboratory technologists, and medical radiation technologists. CIHI also collects aggregate data for an additional 17 health professional groups, such as dentists, midwives, and psychologists.
Altogether, more than one million people in Canada, over 6% of the total Canadian workforce, are employed directly in the heath care system. In 2010, approximately 70,000 of these health care professionals were active physicians.
Over the past five years, the growth in the number of these professionals has consistently outpaced population growth. In fact, there were 203 active physicians per 100,000 Canadians in 2010, the greatest proportion there has ever been in this country. Most of the growth in the physician workforce is due to an increase in the number of medical graduates from Canadian faculties of medicine. Since 2003, it has increased by nearly 60% to more than 2,400 graduates in 2010.
The overall number of training seats continues to grow, so the upward trend in the supply of physicians is expected to continue.
Regulated nurses, the largest group of regulated health professionals in Canada, are also increasing in number: in 2010, there were close to 35,000 registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and registered psychiatric nurses working in nursing in Canada—an increase of nearly 9% since 2006, about twice the rate of the increase in the Canadian population for the same period.
The nursing representative will no doubt cover nursing care in depth, but still, it is interesting to note that the supply of new nursing graduates was over 14,000 in 2006 and over 16,000 in 2010—a growth rate of 17%—so the increase in workforce numbers is likely to continue.
There are also increases in the supply of other health professionals. For example, the per-population supply of all pharmacists in Canada has increased consistently from 82 per 100,000 in 2006, to 91 per 100,000 in 2010. Supply as a whole grew by 16% in that period, reaching a total of approximately 32,000 physicians in 2010.
CIHI data shows that the number of all regulated health professionals, other than physicians, nurses, and pharmacists, also increased by 16% from 2006 to 2010. In total there were approximately 160,000 in the 18 other professions for which CIHI collects data.
Supply-based trend information for all of these professionals is available through a series of reports called “Canada's Health Care Providers”. They contain a broad variety of other supply and graduate data to support health services management and research.
We also have separate and detailed analyses on doctors, nurses, pharmacists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, medical radiation technologists, and medical laboratory technologists. All of our reports are available on our website.
The brief we are presenting to the committee contains further information, including interesting provincial variations, details about the nursing workforce and a list of groups on which we are collecting data.
We know that Canada has more doctors and pharmacists than ever, and that nurses have yet to return to their pre-1990 numbers—but we also know that numbers alone do not tell the whole story.
The demand for services from all health professionals depends on a number of factors. These include population health care needs, the hours professionals spend on patient care, the individual professional's scope of practice, demographic changes to medical and health workforces, and the way care is organized.
The issue of labour supply among health and medical professionals is especially complex. We hope that our data on health human resources help inform discussion on the subject.
We would be pleased to answer any questions you may have in the official language of your choice.