Access to a regular medical doctor, 2014

For many Canadians, the first point of contact for medical care is their doctor. Being without a regular medical doctor is associated with fewer visits to general practitioners or specialists, who can play a role in the early screening and treatment of medical conditions.

In 2014, 14.9% of Canadians aged 12 and older, roughly 4.5 million people, reported that they did not have a regular medical doctor. The percentage of females who do not have a regular medical doctor increased from 10.1% in 2003 to 11.7% in 2008, and has not changed significantly since then. The rate for males has remained around 19% since 2003 (Chart 1).

Chart 1

Description for chart 1

Males and females aged 20 to 34 were the least likely to have a regular medical doctor, while those aged 65 and over were the most likely. Only 5.5% of males and 5.0% of females 65 or older were without a regular doctor, compared to 32.6% of males and 20.3% of females aged 20 to 34 (Chart 2).

In 2014, males were more likely than females to report being without a regular doctor in all age groups from 20 to 64 years of age (Chart 2). There was no significant difference between males and females in the 12 to 19 and 65 or older age groups.

Chart 2

Description for chart 2

The proportion of residents who were without a regular doctor was lower than the national average (14.9%) in:

  • Newfoundland and Labrador (10.1%)
  • Prince Edward Island (9.5%)
  • Nova Scotia (10.6%)
  • New Brunswick (6.1%)
  • Ontario (7.5%)

The proportion of residents who were without a regular doctor was higher than the national average in:

  • Quebec (25.2%)
  • Saskatchewan (20.1%)
  • Alberta (19.9%)
  • YukonNote 1 (26.1%)
  • Northwest TerritoriesNote 1 (57.7%)
  • NunavutNote 1 (82.5%)

Residents of Manitoba and British Columbia reported rates that were about the same as the national average.

In 2014, of the 4.5 million people without a regular doctor, the most common reason for not having a regular doctor was that they had not looked for one (45.9%). Other reasons people had for not having a doctor were that doctors in their area were not taking new patients (21.5%), their doctor had retired or left the area (20.2%), or that no doctors were available in their area (14.4%). Another 13.1% did not give a specific reason for not having a doctor. (Note that these add up to more than 100% because respondents could choose more than one reason for not having found a regular medical doctor.)

Of those 4.5 million Canadians without a regular doctor in 2014, 81.5% reported that they had a usual place to go when they were sick or in need of health advice. If they needed medical care, 59.1% of these respondents reported they would use a walk-in clinic, 14.2% would use a hospital emergency room, and 8.6% would visit a community health centre (known in Quebec as a centre local de services communautaires). The remaining 18.1% reported they would use other facilities such as appointment clinics, doctors’ offices, hospital out-patient clinics and telephone health lines.

Note

References

Nabalamba, Alice and Wayne Millar. 2007. Going to the doctor. Health Reports. Vol. 18, no. 1. Statistics Canada no. 82-003. p. 23–35. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-003-x/2006002/article/doctor-medecin/9569-eng.pdf

Carrière, Gisèle. 2005. Consultations with doctors and nurses. Health Reports. Vol.16, no. 4. Statistics Canada no. 82-003. p. 45–48. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/studies-etudes/82-003/archive/2005/8043-eng.pdf

Tjepkema, Michael. 2008. Health care use among gay, lesbian and bisexual Canadians. Health Reports. Vol. 19, no. 1. Statistics Canad no. 82-003. p. 53–64. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-003-x/2008001/article/10532-eng.pdf

Data

Additional data from the Canadian Community Health Survey are available from CANSIM table 105–0501.

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