TORONTO - A new report says that over the last five years, the number of doctors in Canada has increased at a rate three times faster than that of the population.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information says there were more than 72,500 physicians caring for patients in 2011, a rise of 14 per cent since 2007.

The Canadian population grew 4.7 per cent over the same time period.

Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Quebec had the highest physician-to-population ratios, while Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island had lowest.

In 2011, 51 per cent of Canada’s doctors practised family medicine, while 49 per cent were medical and surgical specialists.

The report also found that more doctors are practising in rural Canada compared to five years earlier, including 15 per cent of the country's general practitioners.

"The encouraging news is that the gap between the number of urban and rural family physicians is decreasing," Geoff Ballinger, CIHI's manager of health human resources, said Thursday in a statement.

"Many regions have implemented programs to persuade new graduates to work in rural areas. These initiatives encourage doctors to practise in communities where physician access would otherwise be difficult."

Yet despite improvements, some rural communities continue to face doctor shortages.

For instance, 3,000 residents of Enderby, B.C., will soon have only one doctor. Five doctors were practising in the northern Okanagan community until June, when two retired and one moved to Vancouver — and now a fourth is moving to Saskatchewan.

The doctor shortage has forced closures or reduced hours at hospital emergency departments in several rural B.C. communities.

The CIHI report also found a growing proportion of doctors are female. Last year, about 36 per cent of Canada’s doctors were women — a jump of 23 per cent from 2007. Over the same period, the number of male physicians rose by just nine per cent.

At a provincial level, Quebec and New Brunswick had the highest percentages of female physicians last year, at 42 per cent and 36 per cent respectively. Prince Edward Island, at 28 per cent, and Saskatchewan and Manitoba, both at 32 per cent, had the lowest proportions of female doctors.

"Today, we have more physicians than ever before," Jean-Marie Berthelot, vice-president of programs at CIHI, said Thursday in a statement. "However, while numbers are increasing, they don’t tell the whole story.

"Better understanding of the organization of care, patient needs and physician workload will help determine whether or not increased physician numbers are translating into improved access to health care for all Canadians," he said.

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Prostate Health

    <a href="http://www.prostatecancer.ca/Prostate-Cancer" target="_hplink">One out of seven Canadian men will develop prostate cancer</a>, according to Prostate Cancer Canada. This particular type of cancer remains the most common type affecting men in this country.

  • Mental Health

    Mental health is one issue Bali thinks is often overlooked. In Canada, <a href="http://www.cmha.ca/public_policy/men-and-mental-illness/#.T9oiNhdPrnQ" target="_hplink">four of every five suicides are committed by men</a>, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association. Depression, anxiety and addiction are all key areas men should be thinking about, Bali says.

  • Low Sex Drive

    Low sex drive in adult men can be caused by <a href="http://www.mensclinic.com/low-sex-drive/" target="_hplink">drug abuse, obesity and even poor sleep patterns</a>. Although there are <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/rose-reisman/sex-food_b_1575410.html" target="_hplink">natural ways to boost your libido</a>, Bali says adult men should see a professional.

  • Infertility

    There are various reasons why men may have difficulty with fertility. Age, sperm disorders and problems with the immune system are all factors men should take into consideration.

  • Erectile Dysfunction

    <a href="http://www.edhelp.ca/en/men/how/what_if/" target="_hplink">Erectile dysfunction (ED) affects about half of all Canadian men</a> over the age of 40, according to survey by EdHelp.ca. This is a condition that should never be ignored -- ED can even result in depression, some experts say.

  • Andropause

    Andropause, or male menopause, is part of a man's aging process when <a href="http://chealth.canoe.ca/channel_condition_info_details.asp?disease_id=300&channel_id=8&relation_id=55661" target="_hplink">testosterone levels can decrease </a>about 10 per cent each decade after a man turns 30.

  • Hair loss

    Another common condition for aging men -- and even men in their 20s -- is hair loss. <a href="http://www.hairlossmonth.ca/" target="_hplink">One out of four Canadians don't know who to ask for help </a>when dealing with the loss of hair. You can talk to your doctor about cosmetic procedures or hair replacements.

  • Sexually Transmitted Infections

    HPV, for example, is one sexually transmitted infection that can affect men. For the most part, <a href="http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/std-mts/hpv-vph/hpv-vph-man-eng.php" target="_hplink">men won't have any symptoms and some infections can go away in a few years</a>, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. However, some infections can lead to penile and anal cancer -- another reason men should have annual check-ups.

  • Metabolic Syndrome

    Obesity, fatty liver, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar and overall cardiovascular health are all areas men should focus on as they age. Between 2003 and 2010, the <a href="http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/110621/dq110621b-eng.htm" target="_hplink">obesity rate among men in Canada rose from 16 per cent to almost 20 per cent</a>, according to Statistics Canada.

  • Arthritis and Sports Related Injuries

    There are more than<a href="http://www.arthritis.ca/local programs/bcyukon/media/FAQ/default.asp?s=1" target="_hplink"> 100 types of arthritis, and it is among the top three most common chronic illnesses in Canada.</a> Ankylosing spondylitis (an arthritis that attacks spinal joints) is more common among men between the ages of 15 to 40. Bali says men are also more likely to suffer from sports related injuries.