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 : Specialist physicians (3111)

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
  • Specialist physicians (3111)
Skill Type
Health occupations
Skill Level
Occupations usually require university education.
Employment in 2021
Median Age of workers in 2021
46.1 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 in this occupational group recorded a slight decline, after reaching a historical peak in 2019. However, the unemployment rate remained extremely low at less than 1.0% in 2021, limiting employment growth opportunities due to the lack of available workers. While the number of unemployed workers remained low, the number of job vacancies increased during the period. As a result, in 2021 there was less than two unemployed workers per job vacancy. In addition, 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. 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 Specialist physicians are expected to total 29,800, while the number of job seekers (arising from school leavers, immigration and mobility) is expected to total 24,000.

The labour shortage conditions seen in recent years is 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. Job openings will result primarily from employment growth (47%) and retirements (44%). Indeed, as the Canadian population ages, the demand for health services is expected to only continue rising. 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 significantly higher than the average of all occupations. The retirement rate is also expected to be higher than the national average as workers in this occupation tend to be older but retire at a similar age as the rest of the workforce.

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, 25% 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. Due to the highly specialized nature of this occupation and the departure of a number of workers for supervisory and management roles, net mobility is expected to be negative. In order to prevent a labour shortage, 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 specialist 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: 14,000 47%
Retirements: 13,100 44%
Other Replacement Demand: 1,700 6%
Emigration: 1,100 4%
Projected Job Openings: 29,800 100%
This table contains data related to Projected Job Seekers.
Level Share
School Leavers: 21,200 88%
Immigration: 7,000 29%
Other: -4,200 -18%
Projected Job Seekers: 24,000 100%
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