Delta South MLA Ian Paton and his party colleague Coralee Oakes are calling for more funding and more educational opportunities to alleviate the shortage of veterinarians in the province.
B.C. currently holds 20 seats at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon (WCVM), which is B.C.’s regional vet school, but has the opportunity to access 20 additional seats. However, according to the Liberals, the Ministry of Advanced Education has been unwilling to meet with groups like the Society of B.C. Veterinarians Chapter to discuss the issue or find solutions to the problem.
Paton, the Liberal agriculture critic and Oakes, the Liberal advanced education critic, have penned a letter to NDP Advanced Education Minister Anne Kang asking whether B.C. will pursue these seats and fund them, to double the number of veterinarians being trained each year — and if not, whether she is pursuing any other measures to help resolve this urgent situation.
“Veterinarians are stressed out and burned out as they try to keep up with the demand for their services, which were already stretched before the pandemic,” said Paton. “Our caucus raised this issue in December 2019 and there has been no movement on it from the NDP government. Meanwhile, the situation is only getting direr.”
Oakes added that the COVID-19 pandemic has seen many more people adopt pets for comfort and companionship, which is generally a good thing — except when they can’t access veterinary care for these animals.
“This is a growing problem in both urban and rural communities, not just for those with household pets but also farm animals,” said Oakes. “Some animals are suffering and even dying because their owners cannot access care quickly enough.”