The current approach to the management of physician resources in Canada needs to be re-examined by all concerned. Canada is about to enter a phase of accelerating depletion of physicians as the result of two separate and evolving circumstances. Because of the unusually large number of physicians who graduated from Canadian medical schools in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a significantly larger than usual number of practising physicians will reach their normal retirement age in the decade ahead. In addition, if the recent surge in the emigration of Canadian physicians continues, the loss of so many physicians will exaggerate the impact of the expected increase in retirements. Therefore, the decision to cut medical school class sizes in the 1990s would have been more suitable in the early 1980s. Existing physician work force policies may be leading to unexpected or undeclared consequences for health care across Canada. On the basis of current trends, the author concludes that policy makers now should reconsider current physician workforce policies in anticipation of a possible shortfall of physicians beginning in the early decades of the next century.