Health Fact Sheets
Primary health care providers, 2017

Release date: February 21, 2019

Primary health care providers, 2017

In 2017, 15.3% of Canadians aged 12 and older (roughly 4.7 million people) reported that they did not have a regular health care provider they see or talk to when they need care or advice for their health.Note  Overall, the proportion of Canadians reporting that they did not have a regular health care provider remained consistent with 2016 (15.8%).

Significantly more males (19.1%) than females (11.6%) reported they were without a regular health care provider.Note  Among both males and females, those aged 18 to 34 were more likely than any other age group to be without a regular health care provider. The group that had the lowest proportion of people without a health care provider were Canadians aged 65 and older (6.0% for males and 5.6% for females; Chart 1).

Chart 1 Percentage without a regular health care provider, by age group and sex, population aged 12 and older, Canada, 2017

Data table for Chart 1 
Data table for Chart 1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 1. The information is grouped by Age group (appearing as row headers), Percent and Confidence Interval, calculated using Lower 95% and Upper 95% units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Age group Percent Confidence Interval
Lower 95% Upper 95%
Males
Total (12 years and older) 19.1 18.4 19.8
12 to 17 years 17.3 15.0 19.5
18 to 34 years 32.8 30.9 34.7
35 to 49 years 22.1 20.4 23.9
50 to 64 years 11.3 10.2 12.5
65 years and older 6.0 5.1 6.8
Females
Total (12 years and older) 11.6 11.0 12.2
12 to 17 years 11.5 9.8 13.2
18 to 34 years 18.7 17.3 20.2
35 to 49 years 12.9 11.5 14.2
50 to 64 years 7.9 6.9 8.8
65 years and older 5.6 4.9 6.2

The proportion of residents who were without a primary health care provider was lower than the national average (15.3%) in:

  • Newfoundland and Labrador (12.4%)
  • Nova Scotia (13.1%)
  • New Brunswick (6.4%)
  • Ontario (10.2%)

The proportion of residents who were without a primary health care provider was higher than the national average in:

  • Quebec (22.3%)
  • Saskatchewan (19.4%)
  • British Columbia (18.2%)

The proportion of residents who were without a regular health care provider was similar to the national average in Prince Edward Island, Manitoba and Alberta. Canadians living in urban areas were more likely to be without a regular health care provider (15.9%) compared to those in rural regions (12.6%).

Of the 4.7 million people without a primary health care provider, the most commonly reported reasons were that they had not tried to find one (29.8%) followed by that they did not need one, but had a usual place of care (25.1%; Chart 2).Note 

Chart 2 Reasons for not having a regular health care provider, population aged 12 and older, Canada, 2017

Data table for Chart 2 
Data table for Chart 2
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 2 Percent and Confidence Interval, calculated using Lower 95% and Upper 95% units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Percent Confidence Interval
Lower 95% Upper 95%
Does not need one, but has usual place of care 25.1 23.6 26.5
No one available in area 17.2 16.0 18.4
No one in area taking new patients 16.7 15.3 18.0
Has not tried to find one 29.8 28.2 31.3
Had one who left or retired 21.9 20.5 23.3
Other 19.1 17.7 20.4

Canadians who don’t have a health professional they see or talk to regularly were less likely to engage in preventative health measures such as influenza immunization or meeting the Canadian Task Force on Preventative Health Care (CTFPHC) cancer screening guidelines.Note 

In 2017, 35.9% of Canadians aged 12 and older with a regular health care provider reported getting the seasonal flu shot in the past 12 months, compared with 14.7% of those who did not have a regular provider.

Among Canadians aged 50 to 74, those who were without a primary health care provider were less likely to adhere to the guidelines for colorectal cancer screeningNote  (19.2%) compared to those who did have one (45.6%).

Women aged 50 to 74 who were without a provider were less likely to have had a mammogram within the past 3 years (49.1%) compared with those who reported they did have a regular health care provider (80.7%).

The proportion of women aged 25 to 69 who received a Pap test in the past 3 years was lower amongst those who reported they did not have a regular health care provider (57.8%) than those who reported they did (76.2%).

Start of text box

About primary health care

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

A regular health care provider is defined as a health professional that a person sees or talks to when they need care or advice about their health. This can include a family doctor or general practitioner, medical specialist, or nurse practitioner.

End of text box

References

Carrière, G. 2005. Consultations with doctors and nurses. Health Reports. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 82-003. Vol. 16 no. 4. (accessed July 4, 2018).

Nabalamba, A. and W. Millar. 2007. Going to the doctor. Health Reports. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 82-003. Vol. 18 no. 1. (accessed July 4, 2018).

Data

Additional data from the Canadian Community Health Survey are available from table 13-10-0096-01.

Date modified: