Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS)

Search for Occupational Projection Summaries (2019-2028)

The current COPS projections were completed in 2019, well before the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak that resulted in exceptional and abrupt economic and labour market disruptions in Canada as well as abroad. However, the focus of the COPS projections is on long-term trends in occupational labour markets, not on short-term developments. At the moment, these long-term trends are not expected to be affected markedly by the COVID-19 outbreak as its impacts are generally foreseen to be temporary.

Note: The projections were developed for 293 occupational groupings that cover the entire workforce, using the 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC). For additional information on these groupings, please visit the COPS Occupational Groupings' Definition. For more information about the methodology used to assess each occupation, please click here.

Search Result : Specialist physicians (3111)

Occupational Outlook
SHORTAGE: This occupational group is expected to face labour shortage conditions over the period of 2019-2028 at the national level. The section below contains more detailed information regarding the outlook for this occupational group.
Occupations in this Group
  • Specialist physicians (3111)
Skill Type
Health occupations
Skill Level
Occupations usually require university education.
Employment in 2018
Median Age of workers in 2018
45.5 years old
Estimated Median Age of Retirement in 2018
65 years old

In order to determine the expected outlook of an occupation, the magnitude of the difference between the projected total numbers of new job seekers and job openings over the whole projection period (2019-2028) is analyzed in conjunction with an assessment of labour market conditions in recent years. The intention is to determine if recent labour market conditions (surplus, balance or shortage) are expected to persist or change over the period 2019-2028. For instance, if the analysis of key labour market indicators suggests that the number of job seekers was insufficient to fill the job openings (a shortage of workers) in an occupational group in recent years, the projections are used to assess if this situation will continue over the projection period or if the occupation will move towards balanced conditions.

Over the 2016-2018 period, employment in this occupational grew significantly, despite a decline in 2018. However, the unemployment rate remained extremely low at 0.7% in 2018, limiting employment growth opportunities due to the lack of available workers. While the number of unemployed workers remains low, the number of job vacancies has increased significantly. As a result, in 2018 there was less than one unemployed worker per job vacancy. According to the OECD, Canada currently has 2.8 doctors per 1000 people and is ranked 24th out of 30 OECD countries with respect to the number of doctors per capita. As a comparison, the top three countries, Austria, Norway, and Lithuania have ratios of 5.2, 4.8, and 4.6 doctors per 1000 thousand people respectively1. Hence, analysis of key labour market indicators suggests that the number of job seekers was insufficient to fill the job openings in this occupational group.

Over the period 2019-2028, the number of job openings (arising from expansion demand and replacement demand) for Specialist physicians are expected to total 32,500, while the number of job seekers (arising from school leavers, immigration and mobility) is expected to total 20,000 .

The labour shortage conditions seen in recent years is expected to persist into the 2019-2028 period, and could even become more acute as the projected number of job openings is expected to be substantially larger than the projected number of job seekers over that period. Job openings will result primarily from expansion demand. Indeed, as the Canadian population ages, the demand for health services is expected to rise. In addition, as a result of population aging, the number of complex health conditions as well as those requiring additional follow-ups is expected to grow, increasing the need for specialist physicians. Consequently, the employment growth rate for these workers is projected to be the highest among all the occupational groups. In addition, retirements are also expected to substantially add job openings, despite the retirement rate being similar to the average for all occupations. Even though these workers tend to be older, they also retire at a much older age. With regard to labour supply, school leavers are expected to represent the main source of job seekers. Access is difficult for people who obtained their medical degree outside Canada. Still, 22% of job seekers are expected to be immigrants completing their certification examinations of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and licensing by the provincial or territorial licensing authority. However, a number of specialist physicians are anticipated to move into management occupations or to become university teachers to prepare the next crop of specialist physicians. In order to prevent a labour shortage, a substantial increase in the number of school leavers would be needed. Nevertheless, this will not be possible in the short term because of the many years of training that a potential worker must go through before being able to work as specialist physician.

1 Source: OECD, March 2020,

Projection of Cumulative Job Openings and Job Seekers over the Period of 2019-2028

This table contains data related to Projected Job Openings.
Level Share
Expansion Demand: 18,300 56%
Retirements: 11,000 34%
Other Replacement Demand: 2,000 6%
Emigration: 1,200 4%
Projected Job Openings: 32,500 100%
This table contains data related to Projected Job Seekers.
Level Share
School Leavers: 18,100 90%
Immigration: 5,000 25%
Other: -3,000 -15%
Projected Job Seekers: 20,000 100%
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