Q3 increase in AB doctors 2nd lowest in 7 years

Alberta saw an increase of 277 physician registrations in the third quarter of 2022. The 1.6% increase over the previous year is the second lowest increase since 2016.

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

According to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, there were 11,346 registered physicians at the end of June 2022. That’s a net increase of 277 over the previous quarter and a net increase of 179 over the same period in 2021.

Of the 18 communities listed in their report, all but 4 saw a net increase in the number of registered physicians over the last quarter. Calgary had the largest net increase, at 139, and Edmonton had the second largest, at 89, followed by Airdrie, Camrose, Sherwood Park, and St. Alberta, all of which saw an increase of 5.

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The communities seeing a loss of physician registrations were Drumheller, Fort Saskatchewan, Lethbridge, and Medicine Hat.

Lethbridge lost another 4 doctors during the last quarter, the largest loss of any of the 18 communities. They are 23 physicians short of where they were at the same time last year, also the largest loss seen by any other community.

That quarterly net increase of 277 was a result of 323 new registrations and 46 cancellations:


  • 304 new registrations
  • 6 restored registrations
  • 12 returning to Alberta
  • 1 who came out of retirement


  • 13 left Alberta
  • 8 erased their own registrations
  • 4 were removed
  • 3 died
  • 18 retired

Of the new registrations, 12 was for physicians returned to Alberta and 166 who were trained outside of Alberta. When we compare that with the 13 who left Alberta, we get a net migration of 165 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: Jan 01, 2022 to Mar 31, 2022, 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):

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 third quarters together. First, we’ll compare third quarter registrations to second quarter registrations.

Now, to be fair, the third quarter always sees an increase when compared to the second quarter. That being said, this was the third smallest third quarter increase over the last 7 years.

In absolute numbers, 2016 saw a quarter-over-quarter increase of 330 new registrations in the third quarter, yet 2022 saw an increase of only 277.

And here are the last 7 third quarters with how much they’ve changed from the previous third quarter.

Physician registrations in the third quarter this year weren’t the worst we’ve seen since 20017, but they’re the second worst. Last year’s increase of 0.1% was smaller than this year’s increase of 1.6%

Prior to last year, the worst increase over the second quarter was in 2018, when we actually saw a 2.4% increase.

Not only that, but it was the 8th lowest increase of all 27 quarters since the beginning of 2016.

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

Well, 138 of the 323 new registrations were from people trained in the province, compared to 122 in 2021. 166 were new registrations from outside Alberta and 6 were “restored”. In 2021, those numbers were 146 and 12, respectively, in the third quarter.

There were 12 registrations for physicians who returned to Alberta, compared to 6 in 2021. However, 13 of the 46 cancelled registrations were from physicians who left the province, as I pointed out earlier, leaving a net migration loss of 1 physician.

Of the remaining 23 cancellations, 18 retired and 3 died, compared to 17 and 1 in 2021. As well, there were 4 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 5 in the second quarter of 2021.

Finally, 8 physicians voluntarily erased their registrations. During the second quarter of 2021, 3 did so.

Oh, and I just want to point out that out of those 11,069 registered physicians, only 3,694 are registered in family medicine, which works out to be about 1 family doctor for every 1,230 residents. At the end of June 2022, Alberta had 1 family doctor for every 1,264 residents.

Alberta saw 348 new registrations for family doctors during the second quarter of 2022. They also lost 171 family doctors, including 47 who left the province. That’s a net increase of 177 family doctors.

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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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