The Top 15 Hardest to Fill Healthcare Roles in Canada

Healthcare is one of the most important fields in Canada. After all, we rely on healthcare professionals to keep us healthy and treat us when we’re sick.

In the coming years, the demand for healthcare professionals will continue to grow, especially as Canada’s population ages. According to the 2016 census from Statistics Canada, there were nearly six million people aged 65 and older in the country. And by 2031, approximately 23% of Canadians could be seniors. But, as demand for healthcare increases, supply is diminishing, which is in part due to many primary care physicians reaching the age of retirement, with four in 10 being over the age of 55.

On, we’ve seen many employers struggle to fill healthcare positions, with some positions remaining open for more than 60 days. What healthcare roles are most likely to remain open for two months or longer? Indeed’s data science team analyzed the job postings in the healthcare sector and determined which ones were open for longer than 60 days. Let’s take a look at the data.

The top 15 hard-to-fill healthcare roles

The hardest healthcare role to fill in Canada is oncologist, a doctor who specializes in the treatment of cancer, with 72% of jobs openings open for 60-plus days. Cancer is a serious health issue in Canada, and nearly one in two Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. With 90% of new cancer patients aged 50 and over, Canada’s aging population will continue to put upward pressure on the demand for oncologists.

Physicians dealing with matters of the heart are also hard to come by. Cardiology physician (66%), a doctor who treats problems pertaining to the cardiovascular system, and echocardiologist (44%), a person trained to identify problems and evaluate the overall condition of a patient’s heart, were both among the healthcare roles most likely to be open for more than 60 days.

Pain management physician, a doctor specializing in pain medicine, and dermatologists, a doctor specializing in skin, hair and nails, both witnessed 63% of jobs open for 60-plus days.

Nurses accounted for three of the fifteen spots on the list including: travel nurse (53%), a nurse who is hired to work in a specific location for a certain amount of time; registered nurse – infusion (48%), a nurse specializing in giving medicine to patients through injection; and hospice nurse (40%), who works with terminally ill or dying patients.

Gastroenterologist (40%), a doctor who diagnoses and treats gastrointestinal diseases, made an appearance on the list. With more than 20 million Canadians suffering from digestive disorders every year, demand for this role will likely persist.     

Other professions on the list were: radiologists (60%), who diagnose and treat diseases and injuries through medical imaging techniques; anesthesiologists (59%), doctors who practices anesthesia; general practitioners (45%), physicians who provides routine healthcare; medical writers (45%), who write scientific documents, such as disease or drug-related literature and articles; medical directors (43%), physicians who oversee the practice of local EMTs and paramedics; and clinical psychologists, professionals who diagnose and treat mental, emotional and behavioral disorders.

What provinces are home to the most healthcare roles?

Demand for healthcare roles is increasing, but some regions within Canada are witnessing more demand than others. The largest concentration of healthcare roles are in Ontario, which is home to 30% of all healthcare roles. Ontario is followed by Alberta at 21% and British Columbia at 18%.

When it comes to pinpointing where healthcare roles are hardest to fill, it to boils down to supply and demand. The four most populated provinces are witnessing the most demand, but there isn’t enough professionals to meet it, which is in part due to the skills gap. For example, nursing schools across Canada are seeing a decline in enrollment – according to the College Nurses of Ontario, the number of registered nurses fell 23 per cent between 2010 and 2015. In Ontario, one-third of registered university applicants were enrolled into arts programs in 2014. With less students interested in pursuing careers in healthcare, the shortage will persist.

Tips for attracting healthcare professionals

There are strategies employers can implement to help attract healthcare professionals despite the shortage.

1. Embrace technology

As many healthcare professionals begin to enter their retirement years, it is critical to start tapping into the younger candidate pool. As more people rely on online search and mobile to find jobs, it’s imperative to modernize your recruiting process by using the tech tools that are available to you. This will help increase the visibility of your job openings and the number of applicants. For example, employers who accept mobile applications receive up to eight times as many applicants, according to Indeed data (worldwide).

2. Build your employer brand

One of the best ways to attract talent is to build your employer brand within the healthcare industry. New graduates as well as experienced professionals will research your organization before they apply to a role or accept an offer. Third-party review sites, such as Indeed’s Company Pages, allow you to showcase your culture, provide a platform for storytelling and allow employees to rate and review your business.

3. Cultivate candidate pipelines

Be proactive in your approach to attract new talent by establishing a candidate pipeline (a pool of candidates available when a position opens up). Try partnering with associations, public societies, universities and high schools, and develop strategic programs that will allow you to attract future talent.

There are a lot of healthcare roles that are hard to fill, but employing these strategies will bring you one step closer to finding the talent you need.



Data represents roles open for longer than 60 days in Canada from May 23, 2017 to May 23, 2018. While job postings can be open for longer than 60 days for many reasons, Indeed uses this measure as a proxy for difficulty hiring.

To identify the regions with the highest share of healthcare postings in Canada, Indeed calculated the percent of healthcare jobs in each province in Canada between May 23, 2017 and May 23, 2018.