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Health Care and Social Assistance

Caring for the needs of a population's health and well-being calls for many services. That's why the health care and social assistance industry ranks among the top three industries for employment in Alberta year after year. 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 2016, an unemployment rate of 1.3% in this industry was one of 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 is 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
  • day care

The health care and social assistance industry employed 273,000 people in 2016. This is an increase of 5,300 jobs (2.0%) from 2015.


49,500 men worked in the industry in 2016 (up 5,400 jobs or 1.2% from 2015)


223,500 women worked in the industry in 2016 (up 3,500 jobs or 1.6% from 2015)

Average Wage
Health Care and Social Assistance
Average Hourly Wage
Average Hourly Wage
  • The average 2016 hourly wage of $30.99 for the health care and social assistance industry was above the provincial average of $29.61.
Industry Performance

In 2016, 11.9% of jobs in this province were in the health care and social assistance industry. Much of the industry was funded by the province. Between 2017 and 2018, for example, the Alberta government will spend $21.4 billion to deliver health care to its residents. Its priorities include better access to primary and community-based health care, spending $249 million for the year. It also budgeted $81 million for addiction and mental health services. Another $15 million will go toward carrying out the recommendations from the Alberta Mental Health Review Committee. The provincial government also set aside $2 billion for home care and community care for seniors and Albertans with disabilities, creating prospects for rural service providers.  

Industry Outlook

The province’s 2017 commitment to add 1,000 new continuing care beds in communities across Alberta will increase the need for more health care workers. Other key strategies will produce similar results. These include expanding home care services, enhancing care for patients with dementia, increasing immunization rates, and strengthening food safety procedures. Improving maternal and infant health, and reducing the gap in health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, are also on the government’s agenda.

Industry Employment Trends

Employment in this industry is expected to grow at an average rate of 2.3% from 2016 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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