Alberta needs veterinarians and the Alberta government has moved to make it happen.
Premier Jason Kenney has announced $8.4-million to expand the number of spaces at the University of Calgary Veterinary school and $59-million over three years in capital spending.
"Alberta's vet work force is short by an estimated 850 practitioners and that number is set to grow," he says. "Meanwhile demand for vet services, especially as I say large animals, continues to go up but the number of graduates in the province has stayed at the same level for decades."
There are seven times more applicants than there are spaces available at the school.
"Veterinary medicine is a key sector in our economy, especially in rural Alberta where we rely on veterinary medicine with a focus on livestock," says Alberta Agriculture Minister Nate Horner, "Veterinarians also take on other roles that support our agriculture sector like regulatory positions, animal health research and work in the animal pharmaceutical industry."
Karen Melnyk, registered veterinary technician and president, Alberta Veterinary Technologist Association, says there have been some very dark days for veterinarians over the last few years with COVID combined with labour shortages and the rising demand for services has put ever-increasing pressures on the veterinary profession.
"This stress is not unique to Alberta but globally veterinarians are in short supply with educational investments not keeping pace with the surge in demand. Our foundational agricultural sectors and the security of our food supply is dependent on our veterinary profession. There is perhaps no greater time when we are in need of help," Melnyk says.
The University of Calgary Faculty of Veterinary Medicine was established in 2005.