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 : General practitioners and family physicians (3112)

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
  • General practitioners and family physicians (3112)
Skill Type
Health occupations
Skill Level
Occupations usually require university education.
Employment in 2018
75,200
Median Age of workers in 2018
45.1 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 growth in this occupational group was significantly above the average for all occupations. The unemployment remained substantially low at 0.9% in 2018, well below the national average of 5.8%. The number of unemployed workers per job vacancy was higher than the national average in 2018, but this is in line with historical patterns for this occupation due to the very low number of job vacancies. 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 General practitioners and family physicians are expected to total 50,900, while the number of job seekers (arising from school leavers, immigration and mobility) is expected to total 19,400 .

The labour shortage conditions seen in recent years are expected to persist into the 2019-2028 period, and would 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. More than half of job openings will result from job creation. Indeed, as the Canadian population ages, the demand for health services is expected to grow. The number of complex health conditions as well as of those requiring additional follow-ups are expected to become more important. Consequently, the employment growth rate for general practitioners and family physicians is projected to be the second highest of all the occupational groups. Retirements are expected to account for slightly more than one third of job openings. Although workers in this occupational grouping are generally older than the average for all occupations, they also tend to retire later in their career. Therefore, pressures arising from retirements are projected to be similar to the average of all occupations. With regard to labour supply, school leavers are projected to be the main source of job seekers. Even though access is difficult for people who obtained their medical degree outside Canada, immigrants completing the examinations of the Medical Council of Canada and getting the proper authorization from the provincial/territorial regulatory body are anticipated to account for over a quarter of all job seekers. Still, there will be an insufficient number of job seekers to overcome the high demand for workers in this occupation over the projection period.

In order to eliminate the labour shortage in this occupational group, a substantial increase in the number of school leavers would be needed. However, 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 general practitioner and/or family physician.

1 Source: OECD, March 2020, https://data.oecd.org/healthres/doctors.htm

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: 28,200 55%
Retirements: 17,600 35%
Other Replacement Demand: 3,200 6%
Emigration: 1,900 4%
Projected Job Openings: 50,900 100%
This table contains data related to Projected Job Seekers.
Level Share
School Leavers: 16,200 84%
Immigration: 6,100 31%
Other: -2,900 -15%
Projected Job Seekers: 19,400 100%
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