WATCH: B.C. needs 100 new vets a year. Here’s what the government has done.

B.C. investing more to address shortage of veterinarians

  • Over $10 million to double provincially subsidized students’ acceptance
  • Province was short on vets before pandemic

Mental fatigue and burnout plagues veterinarians across British Columbia.

It comes as staff shortages roil the industry and is leaving pet and livestock owners in the lurch.

“People are burned out because they work so hard,” Okanagan Veterinary Hospital’s Dr. Marco Veenis told Kelowna10. “The problem for clients is waiting times are increasing, in some cases people have difficulty getting their pets in even if it’s an emergency.”

And the staff shortages are not new, he said. It started long before the COVID-19 pandemic, but has only been made more acute, since.

To help fill the gap, the provincial government has announced that it will invest over $10 million into veterinary education for B.C. students at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) in Saskatchewan.

The money will increase the available spots for B.C. students who want to study at the college from 20 to 40.

Veenis welcomed the funding but said more needs to be done to meet demand.

“We’re still concerned that it may not be enough, and the funding that was announced, is funding for only a year, and we don’t know what’s going to happen after this year if they’re still going to continue to fund those seats,” he said. “The government gave us money to do a labour market study and it indicated we need about 100 new veterinarians in B.C. every year.”

In a news release, Minister of Agriculture and Food, Lana Popham, said these additional seats will support farmers’ businesses and their animals to ensure a strong food supply and economy for the future.

Veenis will be sitting on the interview board for the college during the application process and said there’s no shortage of applicants wanting to become vets, it’s just a matter training more people.

Next door in Alberta, the need for veterinarians is the same.

“They’re training 50 and they already have plans to expand it to 65 in the short term and they would like to see it expand to 100 in the long term,” he said. “We’re very happy with the extra seats [for B.C.], but we still have a long road to go before we have the amount of veterinarians we truly need here.”

Published 2022-04-13 by Connor Chan

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