Ottawa Citizen

Physician deficit still plagues Canada

Doctor-to-population ratio among lowest in member countries

- BY JOANNE LAUCIUS

Canada’s doctor-to-population ratio is among the lowest in the OECD, according to a Winnipeg-based think-tank.

A report from the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, released yesterday, analysed 2005 figures from the Organizati­on for Economic Co-operation and Developmen­t. The report found that out of the 30 member countries, Canada ranked 23rd in terms of the number of doctors for every 1,000 people.

Canada had 2.2 physicians for every 1,000 people, tied with New Zealand. The OECD average is 3.0 for every 1,000 people.

Greece, which had 4.9 doctors for every 1,000 people, had the highest ratio, followed by Belgium with 4.0 doctors for every 1,000 people; Switzerlan­d, Spain and Italy with 3.8; the Netherland­s, Norway and Iceland with 3.7; Denmark and the Czech Republic with 3.6; Austria with 3.5; France, Germany, Portugal and Sweden with 3.4; the Slovak Republic with 3.1; Hungary with 3.0; Ireland with 2.8, Australia with 2.7; Luxembourg with 2.5; and Finland, the United States and Britain with 2.4.

Only Poland, Japan, Mexico, Korea and Turkey had a lower ratio than Canada.

Mark Milke, a policy analyst and lecturer in political philosophy and internatio­nal relations at the University of Calgary, said Canada is slow in improving its ratio — 24 other countries have increased their ratio by 10 per cent or more since 1990. Meanwhile, Canada’s ratio only inched up about five per cent from 2.1 to 2.2 physicians for every 1,000 people.

“Some are increasing much more dramatical­ly than we are,” Mr. Milke said. “We don’t seem to be making much progress.”

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