Family Medicine in Canada

Family Physician - GP - General Practitioner

Informative Guide on Training, Practice Settings, and Salary Expectations

What is a Family Physician?

Family Physicians, also known as a family doctor, general practitioner (gp) and primary care physician have a significant place in the Canadian health system as the single most sought after specialty across Canada. 

Practitioners of family medicine deliver general medical services to patients of all ages, identifying and treating diseases and injuries. Family physicians provide comprehensive patient support, ensuring patients have continuity of care in all life stages. They are trained to look for health risks, address health prevention (such as immunizations and treatments) and manage end-of-life health matters. 

The role includes examining patients, taking their histories, ordering laboratory and other diagnostic tests and procedures, prescribing and administering medications and treatments, and consulting with other practitioners to evaluate overall patient physician and mental health.  

Delivery of Care Settings

Family doctors deliver care in many settings including private practice clinics, community health centres, long-term care facilities, and in specialized areas of practice including obstetrics, anesthesia, and emergency medicine in hospitals. Private practice clinics can be group or team practices and multidisciplinary clinics. 

Canadian Training General Requirements

Upon completion of medical school, to become certified in family medicine with the College of Family

Physicians of Canada (CFPC) requires an additional 2 years of postgraduate training. Physicians wanting to train in a particular special interest can enter an optional third year of medical programming such as emergency medicine and palliative care.

Applying to Canadian Medical Schools

Canada has 17 accredited faculties of medicine, distributed geographically across the country. Canadian medical schools are accredited by the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS) and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). 

According to The Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC), the number of places available is determined by provincial governments based on educational and financial resources, as well as Canada’s future physician workforce requirements. Medical schools have an increasing number of applicants every year, while the number of positions available for entry does not increase significantly.

Can International Students Apply to Canadian Medical Schools?

Since the universities are under provincial jurisdiction, the majority of places in a faculty of medicine are allocated to permanent residents of the province in which the university is located. So, although 14 out of the 17 medical schools accept international students, the number of actual positions is limited.

What International Medical Schools are Recognized in Canada?

Anyone with a Medical Degree (MD) from outside of the accredited Canadian and American programs who wants to undertake residency training or practice medicine in Canada is considered an International Medical Graduate (IMG). This includes Canadian citizens and permanent residents. 

The Medical Council of Canada (MCC) has a helpful guide to the acceptable medical schools as defined in the Model Standards for Medical Registration in Canada.

How are Family Physicians Paid? 

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) which provides essential information on Canada's health systems and the health of Canadians and has the following data:

  • Most physicians receive compensation through multiple models, including both fee-for-service and alternative payments.
  • Alternative methods of paying physicians include salaries, sessional and hourly rates, capitation models and contract-based payments.
  • The largest payment program as a proportion of total gross clinical payments to physicians in Canada is fee-for-service, at about 73% of total payments in 2018‚Äď2019.¬†
  • Fee-for-service services provided by physicians can be split into 2 broad types: consultations/visits and procedures.¬†

Data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Physicians in Canada, 2019.

What are Family Physicians Paid in Canada? 

The gross range of potential annual earnings can vary based on factors including hours, experience, province, rural or urban location, clinic setup, as well as incentives and bonuses offered. A range we see for family physicians across Canada is $250,000 - $600,000. 

Demand for Family Doctors in Canada

The demand for family doctors is high across Canada. This occupational group is expected to face labour shortage conditions over the period of 2019-2028 at the national level. 


This page is a general guideline only and is not intended as financial or other professional advice. Remuneration ranges are from both source information and our job board. All content is subject to change.

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