THE Province is permanently doubling the number of subsidized seats for B.C. veterinary students attending the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) at the University of Saskatchewan.
“Veterinarians play a critical role in supporting the agricultural sector, people, and the health and welfare of animals across B.C.,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills, on Thursday. “Last year, we doubled the number of B.C. students funded to study veterinary medicine and today we are committing to continue this funding so more people receive quality training, and our pets and farm animals can get the health care they need.”
The number of provincially subsidized seats in the college’s doctor of veterinary medicine program will permanently increase from 20 to 40 with the support of an initial investment of $21.8 million over three years.
“The services and care vets provide B.C. farmers supports our province’s food security and results in British Columbians enjoying the benefits of a healthy and stable farming community,” said Pam Alexis, Minister of Agriculture and Food. “It’s clear we need more veterinarians in our communities, so our pets and livestock receive the attention they need, when they need it, and our government continues to take action on both recruitment and training to make that happen.”
Expanding training is one way that B.C. is working to address the need for more vets. The Province also continues to recruit more vets, including adding veterinarians and registered veterinary technologists to the list of priority occupations under the Provincial Nominee Program in 2022. This helps ensure that veterinary clinics have access to the professionals they need to provide animal care.
“The Government of B.C.’s decision to maintain increased funding of the WCVM is a critical step toward addressing the shortage of veterinary professionals in B.C. and across Western Canada,” said Dr. Gillian Muir, Dean of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. “This commitment also allows B.C. and the WCVM to work together to target priorities for British Columbians, including training more veterinarians who want to practise in rural communities and attracting more Indigenous students to the profession.”
The WCVM’s interprovincial agreement with its three provincial partners – B.C., Manitoba and Saskatchewan – helps ensure that Western Canada has a steady supply of veterinarians with in-depth knowledge of animal health and public health, as well as an awareness of the standards and issues facing livestock, fowl and fisheries producers, and pet owners.
“It has been very challenging for ranchers to access vet care in the rural and northern communities of B.C.,” said Werner Stump, Vice President, B.C. Cattlemen’s Association. “This announcement is welcomed as enhanced funding for B.C. veterinary students is a critical first step to providing animal care in these parts of the province.”
Provincial funding also supports training for veterinary technologists, key professionals in veterinary clinic teams. Diploma programs at Douglas College and Thompson Rivers University, including a distance delivery option, give opportunities for B.C. students to become registered veterinary technologists.
This investment supports the StrongerBC Future Ready plan to make post-secondary education and skills training more affordable and accessible, and to respond to the biggest challenge heard from businesses – the need for people. Budget 2023 invests $480 million over three years to support Future Ready’s plan to break down barriers to post-secondary training so more people can get the training they need for in-demand careers and employers can access the talent they need.
* Part of the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, more than 500 undergraduate and graduate students are enrolled at the WCVM, which includes a veterinary medical centre, a provincial veterinary diagnostic laboratory and large-scale research facilities.
* Each year, up to 88 students begin the four-year doctor of veterinary medicine program.
Learn more about the Western College of Veterinary Medicine: https://wcvm.usask.ca/index.