Medical residents in Alberta the highest paid in Canada

Residents in that province make over $10,000 a year more than their counterparts in Quebec and Newfoundland


If you’re coming out of medical school with a large debt, where you do your residency might make a big difference.

The salaries received by medical residents varies widely across the country and it doesn’t necessarily correspond with the cost of living, for instance, residents in Manitoba can make more than their counterparts in Ontario or British Columbia.

Residency, on the job training for medical specialties, generally ranges from two years, for family medicine, to six years for residents going into more complicated specialties and sub-specialties.

Because residents in every province receive a higher salary each year, the pay gap is even greater in later years.

Currently, residents in Quebec and Saskatchewan are in the process of negotiating new contracts and are seeking higher pay. Residents in Quebec are also seeking an end to the 24-hour shifts that are currently standard across the country. Doctors working these shifts are considered “on-call” but they are required to stay in the hospital for the full 24 hours and, depending on how busy they are, may not have any chance to rest. Residents also work other, shorter, shifts.

Here’s how the pay breaks down across the country:

First Year:

Newfoundland and Labrador — $42,781
Maritimes* — $51,546
Quebec — $41,355
Ontario — $51,065
Manitoba — $51,285
Saskatchewan — $48,436
Alberta — $53,25
British Columbia: $48,565

Maximum salary:

Newfoundland and Labrador — $67,223
Maritimes* — $86,252
Quebec — $64,396
Ontario — $88,188
Manitoba — $86,838
Saskatchewan — $70,225
Alberta — $92,055
British Columbia — $77,758.74

*Dalhousie University, in Halifax, is the only medical school in the Maritimes. Residents are placed at hospitals and other facilities in all three provinces with the same pay scale. Dalhousie also runs a satellite program in New Brunswick.

Source: Medical resident student associations and the Canadian Resident Matching Service


Medical residents in Alberta the highest paid in Canada

  1. As a resident in Saskatchewan, I do have a few comments.

    At first glance, it would appear that Alberta residents are “over paid” however, when you consider, they are MD’s, with undergraduate degrees (usually physiology, biology, kinesiology etc) and an additional 3 to 4 year medical degree, one could argue they are “professionals”. Now that we’ve decided they are professionals, let’s look at workload. In Saskatchewan, the average resident doctor works about 80 hours a week. So anyone else who makes $40,000 a year, could make $80,000 if they worked 80 hours a week. Finally debt-load, now this is where all are not the same. Quebec has very cheap tuition, in both undergrad sciences, and medical school, so reasonable they are paid a bit less. How much? Well that’s a tough call.

    Now, 24 hours is not the standard “call” in fact, standard call is until noon the next day, up to 30 hours for a surgical resident.

    Why pay us a living wage?

    In Saskatchewan, we see about half our medical students leave to do residency elsewhere. What’s the point of investing all that money in medical students, if they leave? Can you blame them? On average, my classmates and I owed $100,000 to $200,000 for pretty much a minimum of 4 years undergrad + 4 years medical school (tuition $12,000, no time for part time jobs, and travel expenses for elective rotations and double rent)

    We know, that the #1 reason people chose a location to practice is family, #2 is program but… #3 is pay. If residents in Saskatchewan can make so much more in Alberta, they will move there, and they do. Sure, about half (less last year, more this) stay, but losing 40 to 50% of grads each year is pretty bad.

    There should be some more standardization across Canada.
    Resident doctors (granted I’m biased) should be paid enough to raise a family on. Typically starting in late 20’s finishing in their mid 30’s, often supporting children (heck a 32 year old should be able to have kids) while working 80 hours a week


  2. Looks like Saskatchewan matched resident doctors at a rate well below the Canadian average, again, for 2011.

    Saskatchewan had 27% of its resident doctor spots vacant after the “match” while the national average was 10% vacany.

    Nearby Manitoba had a 4% vacancy rate
    Both UBC and U of C had 3% vacancy rates

    So, we can see that below average Saskatchewan resident doctor wages, with a first year resident doctor starting at $48,000 annually for a 80 hour work week, chase away potential applicants, and are part of the reason local Saskatchewan grads flock to Alberta for residency.

    Alberta paying its residents well is great policly in recruiting local Canadian graduates young, and providing them a young attending doctor work force for decades to come. While Saskatchewan constantly scrambles to find South African rural GP band aids…

  3. Well over 2 year later and we are still waiting for a contract. The government of Saskatchewan doesn’t seem to realize that treating residents poorly leads to them wanting to leave. I do. And no one to blame but the Sask Party and Don McMoron our health minister. I’m not worth the Canadian average salary to him, or minimum wage for my 100 hours a week.

    If I knew I was going to be neglected and underpaid, I’d rather at least be somewhere nice, like BC, instead of dank Saskatoon! Or in Manitoba, which is equally dank, but pays more and is cheaper to live.

    Waiting, but with Lowered Expectations from the Sask Party who only has money for McMorron and his RN wife!

  4. Oh wait, that was a typo, Don McMorris is the moronic health minister of Saskatchewan, oops :)

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