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Can Fam Physician. 2009 Apr;55(4):396-397.e6.

Canadian family physicians' intentions to migrate: associated factors.

Author information

  • 1Department of Family Medicine, University of Sherbrooke, 3001-12th Ave N., Sherbrooke, Québec. alain.vanasse@usherbrooke.ca



To ascertain the short-term intentions of Canadian clinically active family physicians (CAFPs) to change their practice locations.


Secondary analysis of the 2004 National Physician Survey (NPS) data.




All Canadian CAFPs who responded to the 2004 NPS survey.


Physicians' self-reported intentions to move their practice locations to other provinces or other countries. Variables included age, sex, marital status, having children, professional satisfaction, practice region (British Columbia, Alberta, the Prairies [Saskatchewan and Manitoba], Ontario, Quebec, or the Atlantic Provinces) and work setting (urban, small town, rural, etc). Logistic and regression tree analyses were used to find predictors of intention to move out of province.


The 2004 NPS was completed by 21 296 physicians, 11 041 of whom were family physicians. Of these, 8537 satisfied our study inclusion criteria. A total of 3.6% of those CAFPs planned to relocate their practices to other provinces and 3.0% planned to relocate to other countries within the next 2 years (from the time of the survey). Practising in the Prairies and, to a lesser extent, in the Atlantic Provinces were the most powerful predictors of planned interprovincial migration. Dissatisfaction with professional life was the most powerful predictor of planning migration abroad as well as being a predictor of planned interprovincial migration. Other common and statistically significant predictors of interprovincial migration and migration abroad were age, sex, and marital status.


Patients in the Prairie and Atlantic regions are at greater risk of having their family physicians migrate to other provinces than those in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec are. As interprovincial migration profiles differ according to region of practice, they could be used by provincial health human resource planners to understand and predict the movement of health care workers out of their respective provinces.

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