Geographic variation in primary care need, service use and providers in Ontario


Access to Health Care

Neighbourhoods and Health

Learn more about the research program behind this report: Evaluating Ontario’s primary care reforms

We developed this report to fill important data gaps in the context of supporting the Ontario LHIN’s responsibilities for primary care planning. As the roll-out of the new Ontario Health Teams continues, our findings remain relevant – identifying areas of Ontario with greatest (un)met need for primary care.

The results showed considerable variations in primary health-care needs and delivery across Ontario:

  • The areas with the highest needs, including northern Ontario and large cities like Toronto, tend to receive the lowest level of care.
  • People with low income, recent immigrants and seniors have the most unmet needs for primary care.
  • Rural areas had more senior residents and higher levels of disability. Although rural residents had greater access to team-based care, there were relatively fewer family doctors serving them.

Read the full report

About the study

This study used geographic information systems, spatial analytic methods, and linked provincial, population-based health information at the individual level with administrative data on physicians, practice locations and primary care enrolment models. Data came from multiple datasets, all held at ICES.

Data for each of the province’s 76 LHIN sub-regions and Toronto’s 140 neighbourhoods are mapped in categories including primary care need, primary care service use, primary care providers and teams, and gaps in care.

Analyses related to this project continues including the posting of all the data tables and maps on the Ontario Community Health Profiles Partnership website.

Access to Health Care

Neighbourhoods and Health

Dr. Rick Glazier

A family doctor and leader in his field, Dr. Rick Glazier investigates primary care through a health-equity lens: revealing gaps in care, and examining the implications of primary-care reform for traditionally under-served groups. He is an expert in linking geographic methods with administrative health data to help identify priority areas for services and care.


  • Cynthia Damba (Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network)
  • Dr. Geordie Fallis (Michael Garron Hospital)
  • Peter Gozdyra (MAP)
  • Dr. Curtis Handford (St. Michael's Hospital)
  • Dr. Karim Manji (St. Michael's Hospital)
  • Dr. Trevor Morey (St. Michael's Hospital)
  • Anne-Marie Tynan (MAP)


  • Dr. Mohammad Agha
  • Nadiya Minkovska
  • Gary Moloney
  • Patrick O'Brien


  • St. Michael's Hospital
  • Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network


  • ICES
  • Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network
  • St. Michael’s Hospital
  • Association of Community Health Centres of Ontario
  • Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
  • University of Toronto

Contact Info

Dr. Rick Glazier

Principal Investigator