BC’S veterinarians on Thursday alleged that the province is experiencing a dire shortage of veterinarians and there is an immediate and time-sensitive opportunity to train an additional 20 BC students to become veterinarians, but Minister of Advanced Education, Melanie Mark, says no.
They said that this is despite the fact that both the Minister of Agriculture, Kana Popham, and BC’s Chief Veterinarian support the increase from 20 to 40 BC students at BC’s regional veterinary university (the Western College of Veterinary Medicine).
In May, the CVMA-Society of BC Veterinarians Chapter says it met with representatives of both the Ministry of Advanced Education and the Ministry of Agriculture and shared its proof about the shortage of veterinarians and the risk to BC’s pets, companion animals, food animals, wildlife, and public health.
“Collectively the government analysts and managers fully supported an immediate increase from 20 to 40 BC students at BC’s regional university, and recommended the Ministry secure these newly available seats for BC students. But Minister Mark says no, veterinary medicine is not a priority for BC despite the public health and animal health consequences,” according to the Chapter.
“Every week, our Chapter office gets calls from the public, often upset or angry, because they cannot get timely care for their beloved pets. We had one elderly woman call with a sick cat whose own veterinarian had withdrawn on-call services as he was too exhausted to work both day and night. She cried because she could not get her sick cat any veterinary care one evening and was unable to drive for hours to an emergency clinic,” said Dr. Al Longair, President of the CVMA-Society of BC Veterinarians Chapter.
He noted that veterinarians are at the forefront of animal safety and disease surveillance and a shortage of veterinarians has serious public health consequences.
He added: “It’s becoming a crisis, and the Chapter found a way to partially fix the problem and asked the Minister for help, but she said no. I don’t understand why animals and their guardians in this province have to continue to suffer because the Minister said no.”