A spokesperson for the association representing cattle ranchers in B.C. is welcoming additional funding to get more people into veterinary schooling.
Werner Stump, B.C. Cattlemen’s Association’s vice-president based in Malakwa in the Shuswap, said the province’s decision to permanently subsidize 40 spots at the University of Saskatchewan is a critical first step in providing animal care.
“It has been very challenging for ranchers to access vet care in the rural and northern communities of B.C.,” Stump said in speaking to the Canada-wide shortage of veterinarians.
BCCA represents close to 1,200 ranchers representing about 72 per cent of the provincial cattle herd, which topped 610,000 heads in 2019. Overall, B.C. is home to five per cent of Canada’s cow-herd with many of the larger ranches located in the northern and interior regions of the province.
Stump made these comments as Post-Secondary Education Minister Selina Robinson announced the funding Thursday (March 23) in Abbotsford.
“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,” Robinson said.
Government is putting $21.8 million over three years into the subsidized spots.
Agriculture Minister Pam Alexis said B.C. needs more veterinarians.
“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.”
British Columbia, along with Manitoba and Saskatchewan, has an agreement with the veterinary college to help ensure Western Canada has enough doctors with knowledge of animal health and public health, as well standards and issues facing livestock, fowl and fisheries producers and pet owners.
More than 500 undergraduate and graduate students are enrolled at the college of animal medicine, 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.