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  • Stephen Lecce, MPP

Ontario Improving Access to Veterinary Care in Remote and Northern Communities

GUELPH — The Ontario government is investing more than $15 million to help address veterinary shortages in rural and northern communities, making it easier for farmers and large animal owners to access veterinary care when and where they need it. The funding will be used to establish a new Collaborative Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program with the University of Guelph and Lakehead University to train more veterinarians. The government is also providing grants to new veterinary graduates as an incentive to work in underserviced areas in the province.


“Access to veterinary care for farmers and animal owners across the province is critical to ensuring a safe and stable agri-food system,” said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “Our government has listened and is taking direct and immediate action to ensure Ontario farmers in rural and Northern Ontario have the resources they need to succeed for years to come.”

As announced in Ontario’s 2023 Budget, Building a Strong Ontario, the new Collaborative Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program with the University of Guelph and Lakehead University will enrol an additional 20 veterinary students per year, resulting in up to 80 new Doctor of Veterinary Medicine seats in total by 2028. Leveraging the existing University of Guelph Doctor of Veterinary Medicine curriculum, the new DVM program will focus on the recruitment of students from northern, rural and Indigenous communities.

“Our government knows supporting in-demand sectors like this starts with addressing labour shortages head-on, and together with our postsecondary institutions, this collaborative new Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program will do just that,” said Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “This is a historic investment that will help more students get the training and education they need for rewarding careers in veterinary medicine while supporting local labour needs, keeping animals in every corner of the province healthy and supporting the economic growth of local communities.”

The government is also launching the Veterinary Incentive Program to encourage recent veterinary graduates to practice in underserviced and northern communities. This $900,000 investment over three years will provide program participants with annual grants totaling up to $50,000 conditional on the participant continuing to practice on large animals in these communities.

“Farmers and large animal owners should be able to access veterinary care when and where they need it,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance. “Ontario’s 2023 Budget: Building a Strong Ontario is the right plan to provide better services and support people and businesses today while laying a strong fiscal foundation for future generations.”

The Ontario government’s 2023 budget, Building a Strong Ontario, is helping to drive economic growth, attract jobs and investments, and build key infrastructure projects faster. The government’s plan is also training skilled workers to fill in-demand jobs, keeping costs down for those who need it the most, and providing better services for the people of Ontario.

“Our government is taking action to ensure we have the veterinary human-resources available to keep up with demand and growth across the province,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development and Minister of Indigenous Affairs. “By investing in this unique partnership between the University of Guelph and Lakehead University, we are confirming our support for veterinary services and food security across the North and giving agri-food producers the confidence they need to expand operations.”


Quick Facts

  • Increasing veterinary capacity is part of the Grow Ontario Strategy, the province’s plan to strengthen the agri-food sector, support economic growth and ensure an efficient, reliable and responsive food supply for Ontarians.

  • In November 2022, the government launched consultations to explore opportunities to modernize the Veterinarians Act. A discussion paper on the proposed amendments is posted on the Regulatory Registry for public feedback until May 30, 2023.

  • The new Collaborative Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program will launch in fall 2024. Students will spend two years at Lakehead University and two years at the University of Guelph.

  • These new programs build on other measures the government has taken to increase veterinary access for animal owners.


Quotes

"The University of Guelph applauds the Ontario government’s leadership role and bold action to address the veterinary crisis in Ontario. As Ontario’s only Veterinary College and the top school in Canada, we are thrilled by this unprecedented investment. Together with government and Lakehead University, we look forward to working with Ontario’s veterinary and agri-food sectors to supply the talent needed for continued prosperity and growth."

- Dr. Charlotte Yates President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Guelph

"On behalf of Lakehead University, and our partners and stakeholders in Northern Ontario, I want to thank the Government of Ontario for seeing the vision and investing in the Collaborative Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Program in Rural and Northern Community Practice. Working with our partners in government and the agri-food industry, we will be able to provide much needed additional veterinary care to the vital and growing animal farming sector in Northern, rural, and Indigenous communities across Ontario."

- Dr. Moira McPherson President and Vice-Chancellor, Lakehead University

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