Incidence of Circumcision in Canada

Canada Circumcision Statistics

The Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS)'s neonatal circumcision policy since 1975 has been that there is no medical indication for male neonatal circumcision. Wirtz compiled such circumcision data as he could for the fiscal years of 1971 through 1979. Although the incidence was quite high at the beginning (Alberta reported an incidence of 67.5 percent for fiscal year 1971), Wirtz found a generally declining incidence of neonatal circumcision in Canada.1 The incidence of male non-therapeutic neonatal circumcision continued to decline and some provinces started to remove non-therapeutic circumcision from the benefit schedule of their health insurance plans in the 1980s.

The CPS issued a new statement in 1996, Neonatal Circumcision Revisited, which strengthened its stand against neonatal circumcision by recommending that "circumcision of newborns should not be routinely performed." The death of an infant from post-circumcision hemorrhage has contributed to a growing national consensus for genital integrity.2 All provincial health insurance plans have now removed non-therapeutic male neonatal circumcision from the schedule of covered procedures due to the lack of health benefit. At least one major hospital has permanently suspended the performance of non-therapeutic neonatal circumcision.3 These factors, and possibly a wider movement to holistic health, have led to a decline in the rate of neonatal circumcision in Canada.4

While the incidence of neonatal male circumcision varies sharply by region in Canada, the overall incidence of neonatal male circumcision is decreasing throughout Canada. Prince Edward Island (PEI) reported the highest incidence, but Newfoundland/Labrador reported no circumcisions in 2003. Quebec and the Atlantic provinces traditionally have had a low incidence of male neonatal circumcision (except for PEI).5

Statistics on the incidence of male neonatal circumcision in Canada formerly were derived from the number of insurance benefits paid by the provincial health insurance plans. That source of information is no longer available because a benefit no longer is paid for male non-therapeutic neonatal circumcision.

The Saskatchewan College of Physicians and Surgeons in a memorandum to doctors in Saskatchewan strongly discourages the circumcision of male children.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information, which in 1994 took over the national Hospital Database from Statistics Canada, reports that in fiscal 1996/97, circumcision was performed as a primary procedure on about 20 percent of Canadian male neonates, however by 2005, this had declined to 9.2 percent, which brings the genital integrity rate up to 90.8 percent.

The Association for Genital Integrity maintains the best available statistical data on the increasing incidence of male genital integrity in Canada. See provincial statistics for province by province information through 2003.


  1. Wirtz JL. Current circumcision practices: Canada. Pediatrics 1980;66(5):705-8. [Abstract]
  2. Jackie Smith. The growing consensus against circumcision. National Post, Toronto, 30 August 2002.
  3. Jen Skerritt. MD disciplined after wrong baby circumcised: Tried to hide error from parents. Winnipeg Free Press. Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Tuesday, July 18, 2006.
  4. Rates of circumcision slashed in past 30 years. The Gazette, Montreal, Thursday, March 23, 2006: A13.
  5. Andrea MacDonald. N.S. circumcisions continue to drop: Province has second-lowest rate in the country. Halifax Daily News, Saturday, March 25, 2006.

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