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Health Care and Social Assistance

Caring for the complex needs of a population's health and well-being calls for many services. That's why the health care and social assistance industry consistently ranks among the top three industries for employment in Alberta. From public health nurses and social workers to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technicians and hospital administrators, jobs in this industry can take many forms. In 2015, an unemployment rate of 1.5% in this industry was among the lowest in the province.

GDP Gross Domestic Product

Gross domestic product (GDP) measures the overall size of an economy. In 2015, the health care and social assistance industry made up 4.9% of Alberta's GDP. This represents a 0.4% decrease from 2013.

Alberta’s GDP
Decrease from 2013
  • hospitals, nursing homes, and long-term and outpatient care centres
  • offices of dentists, doctors, optometrists, and other medical professionals
  • medical and diagnostic laboratories
  • home health care and ambulance services
  • social services for children, youth, the elderly, and families
  • community food and housing agencies
  • emergency aid and other relief services
  • vocational rehabilitation

The health care and social assistance industry employed 264,100 people in 2015. This is an increase of 30,800 jobs (13.2%) from 2013.


220,000 women worked in the industry in 2015 (up 13.2% from 2013).


44,100 men worked in the industry in 2015 (up 13.4% from 2013).

Average Wage
Health Care and Social Assistance
Average Hourly Wage
Average Hourly Wage
  • The average 2015 hourly wage of $29.89 for the health care and social assistance industry was above the provincial average of $29.06.
Industry Performance

In 2015, 11.4% of jobs in this province were in the health care and social assistance industry, with much of it funded by the province. Between 2016 and 2017, for example, the Alberta government will spend $20.4 billion to deliver health care to its residents. Its priorities include better access to primary and community-based health care. The province is also reviewing the Rural Physician Action Plan (RPAP) and has developed an Alberta Cancer Plan to 2030. Some of the initiatives in 2016 have included a review of mental health services strategies to reduce tobacco use, and consideration of issues surrounding medical assistance with dying.

Industry Outlook

Some of the province's key strategies between 2016 and 2019 call for industry expansion, with strategies that include broadening the model for home and community care, creating 2,000 public long-term care and dementia spaces, implementing an addiction and mental health strategy, and enhancing electronic health-record systems. Population health initiatives will also involve strengthening environmental public health policies and increasing immunization rates.

Industry Employment Trends

Employment in this industry is expected to grow at an average rate of 3.0% from 2015 to 2019.

OCCinfo has more information about occupations in Alberta, including details about duties, working conditions, educational requirements, employment outlook, and salary ranges. You can also find reports on region-specific information about wages, job vacancies, and hiring difficulties in this industry. Visit the Survey Analysis to learn more.

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