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2017 CMA Workforce Survey highlights doctors' concern over patient access to care

A new survey released today by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) shows physicians are very concerned over Canadians' ability to access care, particularly long-term care.

The CMA Workforce Survey, a new survey taking the place of the National Physician Survey, found an overwhelming majority (80.9%) of responding physicians rated Canadians' access to long-term care beds as unsatisfactory. Further, only 58% rated Canadians' access to hospital care for elective procedures as either satisfactory (48.6 %) or excellent (9.4%).

In terms of workload, Canadian physicians work on average 51 hours per week (not including on-call time) delivering patient care, teaching, research and administration ― a 2-hour increase from 2014. In addition to their weekly work life, more and more physicians are on-call for an additional 28 hours each week (or 112 on-call hours per month, an increase of five hours compared to 2014).

The survey, conducted earlier this year by the CMA, received input from over 7,000 physicians on the realities of their practice – from working hours, access to care and job satisfaction.

Other highlights from the survey include:

Working & on-call hours:

  • Physicians are spending an average of 2 full hours a week filling in paperwork on behalf of patients.
  • More than 7 in 10 physicians (73%) have on-call duties ― a 6 percentage point increase from 2014.

Main practice setting:

  • Around 4 in 10 physicians practice primarily in a private office/clinic (41%), followed by academic health science centre (AHSC) (21%), community hospital (13%), community clinic (6%) and non-AHSC teaching hospital (6%). The proportion of physicians in each setting remained relatively constant since 2014, with a slight increase in private offices (38% in 2014) and community clinics (8% in 2014).
  • Over half of family practitioners (FPs) (58%) identified a private office as their main work setting followed by community clinic (9%), community hospital (7%) and emergency department (6%). The other specialists were more likely to be primarily in an AHSC (38%) followed by private office (21%), community hospital (20%), and non-AHSC teaching hospital (10%). This trend is similar to 2014, but with more FPs working in a private office (54% in 2014), and a greater proportion of other specialties practising in an AHSC (33% in 2014).


  • Over 4 in 10 physicians (44%) participate in a collaborative practice with their colleagues and other health professionals.
  • Collaboration was more likely among female physicians (48%) than male (41%), as well as among younger physicians (50% of the <35 age group) compared to 41% of the 65+ age group.

Satisfaction with professional life and work-life balance:

  • While most physicians are satisfied with their professional life (75%), more than 1 in 10 (11%) are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their professional life, compared to 10% in 2013.
  • While more than half of physicians are satisfied with their work-life balance (53%), more than a quarter (26%) claim to be dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the balance between their personal and professional commitments, compared to 24% in 2013.