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CPSA by the Numbers

A summary of registration and complaint statistics.

Physician resource statistics

Quarterly physician resource statistics

These reports include:

  • Summary of changes in physician resources (period to period)
  • Physician resources by zone
  • Changes in physician resources by specialty
  • Summary of inflows and outflows
  • Inflows and outflows by physicians’ place of graduation

Complaints statistics

Number of complaints per year

Totals 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
Complaints received* 617 763 857 854 826 831
Physicians complained about* 535 680 756 713 712 702
Complaints open at year end 637 446 502 553 523 406

*One physician may have multiple complaints.

Average days to close a file

Complaint Process Used* 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
Resolve with Consent (after investigation) 573 575 465 464 374 335
Resolve with Consent 237 167 230 163 249 119
Dismissal (after investigation) 402 233 339 298 225 180
Direct Resolve 78 64 50 90 40 28
Dismissal 105 24 13 8 12 11

* Complaints directed to hearing are not included as the days to close vary widely based on complexity and whether the decision is appealed. Also, the number of hearings is too small to determine a meaningful average.

Complaints process definitions

Direct Resolve

An informal resolution process best suited for single-issue complaints, usually related to practice management or explanation of a medical decision. With this process, we encourage the physician to work directly with the complainant to resolve the matter. Open and honest discussion between both parties helps them to understand the issues and often a simple explanation or apology can close the file. More importantly, both the physician and the complainant learn from this process, improving future interactions.

Resolve with Consent (without investigation)

An informal resolution process used when the complaint seems straightforward, but one in which the physician needs to provide further explanation to the complainant and CPSA about the care provided, or make a change to their practice.

After we get consent from both the physician and the complainant to proceed with this approach, we’ll work directly with the physician to address the complaint. The underlying issue in many of these complaints is poor communication, often around patient consent or follow-up care rather than lack of knowledge or skill. Resolve with Consent enables us to respond quickly to the complaint and allows the physician to explain their care or actions, or implement practice changes sooner.


A formal process used for complaints that are serious or have complicating factors, such as when the complainant has no authority to receive medical information about the patient. These complaints often involve more than one physician and require additional information from others involved, including medical records.

An investigation is also mandatory for complaints involving a serious allegation of unprofessional conduct, including sexual abuse or sexual misconduct.

Resolve with Consent (after investigation)

A collaborative process used when an investigation identifies a problem with the physician’s practice. In this situation, we work with the physician and complainant to allow for effective and timely resolution. For these complaints, both the complainant and the physician must agree on how it can be resolved, which may include a peer review, assessment and/or educational activities. This quality improvement approach results in better care for future patients.

Dismissal (after investigation)

Occurs when an investigation finds no evidence of unprofessional conduct, the complaint is dismissed. When a complaint is dismissed, the complainant can request a review of that decision.


Sometimes a complaint lacks sufficient information to identify unprofessional conduct, or it’s frivolous or vexatious in nature. In these cases, the Health Professions Act allows our Complaints Director to dismiss it with no further action. When this happens, the complainant can request a review of the dismissal decision.


Disciplinary hearings occur when informal methods of resolution are unsuccessful, or when a complaint investigation reveals a serious breach of a practice standard or ethical conduct by a physician, such as sexual abuse or sexual misconduct.

Summary of complaint natures

Nature* 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
COVID-19 38 0 0 0 0 0
Practice Management 329 290 283 271 257 227
Medical Reporting 70 85 148 126 156 116
Third Party 14 7 4 9 14 18
Ethics 239 187 129 102 131 134
Quality of Care 383 529 541 520 495 461
Systemic 13 7 3 4 5 10
Unclassified 7 7 51 51 66 74
Total 1,093 1,112 1,159 1,083 1,124 1,090

*One complaint file may have multiple natures

Nature of complaint definitions

COVID-19 – New category as of November 2021, includes assessment/diagnosis/treatment, professional behaviour and regulatory compliance.

Practice Management – Physician availability, office management (including finance and communication).

Medical Reporting – Release of records, report completion and accuracy.

Third-Party – Independent Medical Examination (WCB, insurance companies, and all others).

Ethics – Confidentiality, informed consent, advertising, self-promotion, research-related and boundary violations (including sexual, financial and others).

Quality of Care – Diagnosis (incorrect or delayed), treatment (prescribing, procedural and counselling), referral, consultations, follow-up).

Systemic – Continuity of care and interdisciplinary issues.

Unclassified – All others.

Questions about these statistics?

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Other inquiries: 780-423-4764
Toll-free: 1-800-561-3899 (in Canada)

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