A new study entitled Pay Gaps in Canadian Medicine,” led by Arthur Sweetman and Meredith Vanstone, will assess how gender, race/ethnicity, foreign training, and immigration status affect physician practice patterns and disparity in pay in Canadian medicine.

The two-year study, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, also includes co-investigators Danielle O’Toole and Ahmad von Schlegell.

The study will build on findings they published previously with Boris Kralj documenting a clear gender gap in pay for family doctors in Canada. That paper can be accessed here. 

While their previous research addressed aspects of gender gaps in physician pay and labour supply (weeks and hours of work), this study will contribute much-needed empirical evidence on physician pay gaps related to the intersection of gender, race/ethnicity, international medical graduation and immigration status. They will study all physicians, with a particular focus on Family Medicine -- the largest specialty group.

This broader research will help inform processes that are likely to be increasingly introduced into Physician Services Agreements across Canada and which focus on equity in remuneration.

In Ontario, the Ministry of Health and the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) reached a tentative Physician Services Agreement (released March 3, 2022) that sets out a process to initiate steps to close the gender pay gap. The information gathered in this new study can help inform the implementation of this process, as well as potential similar aspects of Agreements in other provinces, as well as potential extensions.

The investigators will draw data from five distinct data sources: Statistics Canada Censuses and Labour Force Surveys, Canada Revenue Agency taxation records, electronic medical records, a survey of physicians, and qualitative data from physicians.

Women in the physician workforce appear, on average, to have different approaches to practice than their male colleagues that are only superficially understood. The team will examine the sources and ramifications of these differences as well as those related to other identity and experiential factors.

The initial impact of COVID-19’s shock on physician labour supply and earnings gaps will also be explored.

McMaster University Social Sciences

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