Dataset Health Workforce Database (HWDB)

Health Workforce Database (HWDB) 
Data Provider (source):

Canadian Institute for Health Information


The Health Workforce Database (HWDB) contains information on 30 groups of health care professionals in Canada. It provides comprehensive national, provincial and territorial portraits, including information on: supply, distribution, migration, education and employment. Find out more about Canada’s health workforce, including reports and analyses based on HWDB data here. The HWDB receives data from:

  • National professional societies and associations
  • Provincial/territorial regulatory bodies
  • Provincial/territorial governments
  • Educational institutions

Record-level health workforce data is collected using profession-specific data standards developed by CIHI in consultation with key stakeholders, including the data providers. Collection of aggregate-level health workforce data varies depending on data availability by each professional group.

Evidenced-based planning and management of health human resources. 
Type of Data (select all that apply):
Health Care and Health Services 
Data Collection Method (select all that apply):
Administrative Data 
Identifiers used for linkage:
Postal Code 
Access requiredments and conditions for Researchers and Projects:

Data Access Conditions:

  • In addition to the CIHI data access condition below, requests for Quebec data are subject to review and authorization from the Quebec Privacy Commission (Commission d’accès à l’information du Québec) and the Québec Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS).
  • CIHI discloses health information and analyses on Canada’s health system and the health of Canadians in a manner consistent with its mandate and core functions. These disclosures typically fall into one of four categories:
    • Disclosures to parties with responsibility for the planning and management of the health care system to enable them to fulfill those functions;
    • Disclosures to parties with a decision-making role regarding health care system policy to facilitate their work;
    • Disclosures to parties with responsibility for population health research and/or analysis; and
    • Disclosures to third-party data requesters to facilitate health or health services research and/or analysis.
  • Prior to disclosure, CIHI reviews the requests to ensure that the disclosures are consistent with the above and meet the requirements of applicable legislation.
  • CIHI data disclosures are made at the highest degree of anonymity possible while still meeting the research and/or analytical purposes. This means that, whenever possible, data are aggregated.
  • Where aggregate data are not sufficiently detailed for the research and/or analytical purposes, data that have been de-identified using various de-identification processes may be disclosed to the recipient on a case-by-case basis and where the recipient has entered into a data protection agreement or other legally binding instrument with CIHI.
  • Only those data elements necessary to meet the identified research or analytical purposes may be disclosed.
  • For more information, please reference CIHI’s Privacy Policy:

Requirements for record-level data access:

  • Prior to disclosure, the recipient must sign a data protection agreement or other legally binding instrument that, at a minimum, contains the following requirements:
    • Prohibits re-identifying or contacting the individuals;
    • Prohibits linking the de-identified data unless expressly authorized in writing by CIHI;
    • Limits the purposes for which the de-identified data may be used;
    • Requires that the de-identified data be safeguarded;
    • Limits publication or disclosure to data that do not allow identification of any individual;
    • Requires the destruction of data, as specified;
    • Permits CIHI to conduct on-site privacy audits pursuant to its privacy audit program; and
    • Requires the recipient to comply with any other provision that CIHI deems necessary to further safeguard the data.
  • Prior to the disclosure of de-identified data for research purposes, the requester will provide CIHI with evidence of Research Ethics Board approval.
  • CIHI reserves the right to impose any other requirement(s) as needed on a case-by-case basis in order to maintain the confidentiality of de-identified data.
  • Prior to disclosure, program areas will evaluate the de-identified data to assess and subsequently minimize privacy risks of re-identification and residual disclosure, and to implement the necessary mitigating measures to manage residual risks.
  • CIHI will not disclose de-identified data if it is reasonably foreseeable in the circumstances that it could be utilized, either alone or with other information, to identify an individual and that, where it is reasonably foreseeable that it could be used to identify an individual, the information will be treated as personal health information.

Access process:  All data access requests can be initiated at the following CIHI webpage:, and complete an Access Data Inquiry Form.

Phone: 1-613-241-5543 Email: 

The HWDB contains administrative information such as: practice setting; regulatory environment; and supply, demographic, education and employment characteristics. Professional groups included are: audiologists, chiropractors, dental assistants, dental hygienists, dentists, dietitians, environmental public health professionals, genetic counsellors, health information management professionals, licensed practical nurses, medical laboratory technologists, medical physicists, medical radiation technologists, midwives, occupational therapists, opticians, optometrists, paramedics, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, physician assistants, physiotherapists, psychologists, registered nurses/nurse practitioners, registered psychiatric nurses, respiratory therapists, social workers, speech-language pathologists.



Data is available from:
The availability of record-level data varies by professional group. Some data is available to 1980, for registered nurses, and from the 2000s for other groups. Aggregate-level data also varies by professional group. Additional details on record- and aggregate-level availability are available on the HWDB website in the Data coverage and data availability section.  
More Information (including references):

Key data elements for record-level data in the HWDB cover demographic and geographic characteristics, as well as education and employment details. See the following documents for more details, including data submission specifications for the professional groups with record-level data:

Information on professional groups with aggregate-level data in the HWDB varies depending on its availability. At a minimum, data includes the number of members of voluntary professional associations. Data on registered health care professionals — along with age breakdown and gender — is provided by the appropriate regulatory authority where possible. Information on educational seats and new graduates is also collected at an aggregate level for all 30 health professional groups.

For data quality documentation, refer to the methodological notes in these guides:

[2019-02-11 15:20] Sarah Kesselring: Edited by Sarah Kesselring (skesselring)