Canadian Occupational Projection System (COPS)

Search for Occupational Projection Summaries (2022-2031)

The 2022 COPS exercise was developed using the 2016 version of the National Occupational Classification (NOC). The 2016 NOC has 500 occupations. However, many of these occupations are small in terms of employment. Such occupations were combined into broader groupings according to the specific tasks of each occupation. By grouping small occupations with similar tasks together, 293 occupational groupings were obtained. Although NOC already has a more recent version (2021), the model’s input data were only available in the 2016 version of the NOC at the time of the development of the projections.

For more information on the 293 occupational grouping used in COPS, please visit the COPS Occupational Groupings' Definition.

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 2022-2031 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 2021
Median Age of workers in 2021
44.3 years old
Estimated Median Age of Retirement in 2021
64 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 (2022-2031) 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 2022-2031. 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. It is important to note that COPS does not identify imbalances that may temporarily appear during specific years, unless they will persist over the longer run.

Over the 2019-2021 period, employment growth in this occupational group was significantly above the average for all occupations. The unemployment rate remained extremely low around 1.0% in 2021, well below the national average of 7.5%. The number of unemployed workers per job vacancy was higher than the national average in 2021. However, the strong demand for general practitioners and family physicians is not captured by the Job Vacancy and Wage Survey (JVWS) due to the high share of self-employment in this occupation. Canada currently has less doctors per capita than most OECD countries, which may have a negative impact on the timeliness of the care received by the Canadian population. In addition, the difficult working environment created by the COVID-19 pandemic led to the burnout of many medical professionals. Moreover, the rapid spread of COVID-19 left many health care practitioners out sick or in isolation, creating substantial bottle necks in the health system. Hence, the analysis of these and other 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 2022-2031, the number of job openings (arising from expansion demand and replacement demand) for General practitioners and family physicians are expected to total 48,900, while the number of job seekers (arising from school leavers, immigration and mobility) is expected to total 29,400.

The labour shortage conditions seen in recent years are expected to persist into the 2022-2031 period and could even become more acute as the projected number of job openings are substantially higher than the projected number of job seekers over that period. More than half of job openings will result from employment growth. Indeed, as the Canadian population ages, the number of complex health conditions as well as of those requiring additional follow-ups is expected to grow. Consequently, the employment growth rate for general practitioners and family physicians is projected to be significantly higher than the average of all occupations. Retirements are expected to account for slightly more than one third of job openings. Although workers in this occupational group are generally older than average, 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 a potential worker must go through before being able to work as a general practitioner and/or family physician.

Projection of Cumulative Job Openings and Job Seekers over the Period of 2022-2031

This table contains data related to Projected Job Openings.
Level Share
Expansion Demand: 26,100 53%
Retirements: 18,300 37%
Other Replacement Demand: 2,600 5%
Emigration: 1,900 4%
Projected Job Openings: 48,900 100%
This table contains data related to Projected Job Seekers.
Level Share
School Leavers: 22,600 77%
Immigration: 8,500 29%
Other: -1,600 -5%
Projected Job Seekers: 29,400 100%
Date modified: