Government Must Address Education Vet Shortage – Lake Cowichan Gazette

The government must address the shortage of veterinarians at the education level

Letter in response to Dr. Gillian Wiley’s letter to Joe Sawchuk regarding veterinary rotation:

Dear Dr. Wiley:

thank you very much for your tremendous letter! I believe the general public needs to be educated as to why there is no after-hours emergency care here in Duncan. I would also like to inform the public more about the real responsibility: the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training, Minister Anne Kang and, before her, Melanie Mark.

Since 2018, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association has been trying to get a meeting with these ministers to request funding for 20 additional seats in British Columbia at the University of Saskatchewan to the 20 currently available. They encountered silence. There are over 140 students who qualify and apply to the university each year to fill the 20 places. The Government of Alberta kindly removed their candidates from these seats and offered to train them in their own province to make some of these 20 students available to other Canadian students. Currently, a few of these seats are funded by higher education, but those that aren’t cost more than $70,000 a year for four years. For students who cannot reserve a place, if can afford it, some have chosen to seek their training in other countries. At this point, with the pandemic and flooding, vets have become extremely exhausted trying to keep up. This is market research by Advanced Education: A 2019 labor market survey conducted by the British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training indicated that British Columbia Britain would be short 100 vets a year for each of the next five years, resulting in a shortage of 500 vets by 2024.

Even if they to know of this particular shortage, they will not increase the number of funded places for qualified students. Once the number of regular places is filled, the rest is offered to our Canadian students at full tuition. Many are not able to find this money. At this stage, these places are offered to international students who come, follow the training and generally return to their own country to practice. The average salary for a veterinarian in Canada is just over $90,000 per year. An entry-level salary is just under $80,000. Experienced vets can earn just over $110,000 and a certified vet around $200,000 per year. Even though they are only animal doctors, they are still doctors and must learn anatomy, chemistry, medicine and perform operations. About 70 percent of the population in Canada owns pets, often with multiple pets. These animals bring comfort and unconditional love to their caregivers and are extremely important. There are also farm animals that provide food for our population and also require a significant amount of care.

I could certainly elaborate more on this issue, but space does not permit. I urge anyone who has a pet or has ever had a pet to research this and write letters to Minister Anne Kang of the Office of Higher Education and Skills Training at Victoria. Squeaky wheels often get greased up and if we’re going to make a change, more people need to speak up. I have been pleading since August 2021 and have written many letters, three of which went to Minister Kang with only one response. She doesn’t see the need for more vets and additional funding for 20 more seats, even though her office has done a labor market study showing the horrendous shortage.

Danette Schutte