AB physician registration growth slowed under UCP

While the UCP have been in power, the number of registered physicians in the province has increased by 8.44%. Under the NDP, it increased 16.52%.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta recently released their fourth quarter Physician Resources in Alberta update for 2022.

According to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, there were 11,407 registered physicians at the end of December 2022. That’s a net increase of 61 over the previous quarter and a net increase of 254 over the same period in 2021.

Of the 18 communities listed in their report, 11 either saw a net decrease of registered physicians over the last quarter or saw no change in registered physicians. Calgary, unsurprisingly, had the largest net increase, at 43, and Calgary had the second highest, at 7, followed by Red Deer, at 14. Airdrie saw the largest decrease, at 6, followed by Grande Prairie, at 4.

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That quarterly net increase of 61 was a result of 137 new registrations and 76 cancellations:


  • 101 new registrations
  • 3 restored registrations
  • 31 returning to Alberta
  • 2 who came out of retirement


  • 34 left Alberta
  • 12 erased their own registrations
  • 8 were removed
  • 3 died
  • 19 retired

Of the new registrations, 31 were for physicians who returned to Alberta and 89 who were trained outside of Alberta. When we compare that with the 34 who left Alberta, we get a net migration of 86 physicians into the province. Remember, that is for registrations. Theoretically, a doctor could leave Alberta but maintain their registration in the province.

The numbers reflect the physicians who maintained an active licence within the applicable quarter; it cannot be interpreted as those who are actively practising. . . . These counts do not necessarily reflect physicians’ functional area of practice, or even if they have an active clinical practice.

“Methodology”. Physician Resources in Alberta Quarterly Update: Oct 01, 2020 to Dec 30, 2021, pp. 1,3.

Let’s look at the registration numbers over the last 5 years or so (I couldn’t find any CPSA data beyond 2016):

Oct–Dec 202211,4070.5%
Jul–Sep 202211,3462.5%
Apr–Jun 202211,0690.9%
Jan–Mar 202210,965-1.7%
Oct–Dec 202111,153-0.1%
Jul–Sep 202111,1672.2%
Apr–Jun 202110,9270.6%
Jan–Mar 202110,866-2.3%
Oct–Dec 202011,120-0.3%
Jul–Sep 202011,1522.3%
Apr–Jun 202010,9050.9%
Jan–Mar 202010,812-1.2%
Oct–Dec 201910,9480.4%
Jul–Sep 201910,9062.9%
Apr–Jun 201910,5990.8%
Jan–Mar 201910,519-1.5%
Oct–Dec 201810,6740.4%
Jul–Sep 201810,6302.7%
Apr–Jun 201810,3510.7%
Jan–Mar 201810,274-1.0%
Oct–Dec 201710,3760.0%
Jul–Sep 201710,3792.9%
Apr–Jun 201710,0881.0%
Jan–Mar 20179,991-0.6%
Oct–Dec 201610,0480.0%
Jul–Sep 201610,0433.4%
Apr–Jun 20169,7131.2%
Jan–Mar 20169,596-1.2%

Let’s look at all the fourth quarters together. First, we’ll compare fourth quarter registrations to third quarter registrations.

This was the first time since 2019 that Alberta saw an increase in fourth quarter physician registrations. Not only that, but at 0.54%, it was the largest percentage-based increase, too, since at least 2016.

Keep in mind, however, that this comes after two straight fourth quarters with decreases in registrations, which means that, over the last 3 fourth quarters, we’ve seen only a 0.12% overall increase.

And here are the 6 fourth quarters with how much they’ve changed from the previous fourth quarter.

Physician registrations in the fourth quarter last year weren’t the worst we’ve seen since 2016, but they’re the third worst. Last year’s gain of 0.29% was smaller than this year’s gain of 2.3%, as was 2020’s gain of just 1.6%.

Since the first quarter of 2019, the last quarter before the UCP took power, Alberta physician registrations grew by 888, or 8.44%.

By comparison, between the same period 4 years prior (first quarter of 2015 until fourth quarter of 2018), Alberta saw a net increase of 1,513 physician registration under the NDP. That’s an increase of 16.52%, roughly twice as much as what we saw under the UCP.

Now how do they break down by where they came from and where they went to?

Well, 12 of the 101 new registrations were from people trained in the province, compared to 26 in 2021. 89 were new registrations from outside Alberta and 3 were “restored”. In 2021, those numbers were 59 and 13, respectively, in the fourth quarter.

There were 31 registrations for physicians who returned to Alberta, compared to 40 in 2021. However, 34 of the 76 cancelled registrations were from physicians who left the province, as I pointed out earlier, leaving a net migration gain of 55 physicians when added to the 89 registrations from physicians trained from outside Alberta.

When you add up all registrations cancelled because physicians moved to other provinces, there were 82 in total during 2022. And there were 59 new registrations from doctors returning to Alberta. That’s a net migration loss of 13 registrations.

Of the remaining 26 cancellations, 19 retired and 3 died, compared to 41 and 0 in 2021. As well, there were 8 removed registrations. These were for physicians who were suspended or were licensed for a limited period and have since been removed from the register. This number was 9 in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Finally, 12 physicians voluntarily erased their registrations. During the fourth quarter of 2021, 16 did so.

Oh, and I just want to point out that out of those 11,407 registered physicians, only 3,898 are registered in family medicine, which works out to be about 1 family doctor for every 1,180 residents. At the end of December 2021, Alberta had 1 family doctor for every 1,206 residents.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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