B.C. doubles number of subsidized seats in veterinary college to address shortage

B.C. doubles number of subsidized seats in veterinary college to address shortage

VICTORIA — British Columbia is doubling the number of seats it will subsidize for first-year veterinary college to address a shortage of animal doctors.

Anne Kang, the minister of advanced education and skills training, says the province will provide $10.68 million to support 40 students entering the Western College of Veterinary Medicine this fall.

She saysdemand for subsidized seats at the Saskatchewan-based college has been high and tuition fees have been a barrier for aspiring veterinarians.

With more graduates in years to come, Kang says people in B.C. can expect shorter wait times for their family pets to receive care, and farmers and ranchers will be able to access a veterinarian as they need for their livestock.

Agriculture Minister Lana Popham says extreme weather, including widespread flooding last fall, has been a major challenge for farmers and ensuring B.C. is home to more veterinarians will hopefully help to ease some of their worries.

She says the expanded funding means B.C. is maximizing the number of seats the province is allowed to subsidize at the veterinary college each year.

When asked on Monday if the expansion will be enough to address the effects of the veterinarian shortage, Kang said it’s “one of the many solutions we’re working on.”

B.C. is also considering ways to improve recognition of foreign credentials and looking at opportunities for veterinarians who would like to move to B.C. to practise, she said.

Dr. Helen Bell of the Pacific Cat Clinic in Victoria told the news conference that it has been difficult for people to access timely care for their animals and veterinarians and their staff have been burning out “under the crushing workload.”

She said the expansion is “wonderful news for the profession.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 4, 2022.

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