VICTORIA (April 28, 2021) – BC United Advanced Education Critic Coralee Oakes and Agriculture Critic Ian Paton say it’s time for the NDP to get its head out of the sand when it comes to B.C.’s shortage of veterinarians.
“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,” says Oakes. “This is a growing problem in both urban and rural communities, not just for those with household pets but also farm animals. Some animals are suffering and even dying because their owners cannot access care quickly enough.”
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, 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.
“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,” says 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 more dire.”
Oakes and Paton have penned a letter to 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.