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Province responds to RDBN vet request

Will add available seats for B.C. students to WCVM
The RDBN requested the province initiate ways to increase vet students in B.C.. (File photo/Lakes District News)

In September, the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako (RDBN) was recommended by staff to write letters to the Minister of Advanced Education and the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries in support of a request to increase the amount of available spots for B.C. students at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM).

The WCVM is the only veterinary school in Canada that accepts B.C. students, and previously, there were only 20 seats available per year. The RDBN requested that number be doubled, citing the fact that there is a significant need for vets across B.C. and especially in rural areas.

The Minister of Advanced Education responded to the request, sending a letter to the RDBN board outlining what steps have been made to resolve the issue.

“Expanding post-secondary education programs, such as veterinary medicine, is a complex undertaking that needs to fit within the larger provincial system. In recognition of the importance of veterinary medicine education, government has increased funding provided to the WCVM by more than $528,000 over the past five years and we are committed to continuing our current significant annual investment in veterinary medicine training at the WCVM,” said Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training Anne Kang in the letter.

“I am also pleased to share that our ministry has supported the WCVM to enable an increase in the number of British Columbia students at the WCVM this year; a total of 32 B.C. students were admitted to the WCVM this fall, as compared to 20 in 2019,” she continued.

The RDBN didn’t get everything they asked for however, as there was also a request for the province to establish its own veterinary school, which was turned down by the Kang.

“In your letter, you encourage B.C. to establish its own veterinary school. The WCVM was founded on the recognition of both the need for western-trained veterinarians as well as the benefits and advantages of Western Canadian collaboration, including the cost savings to be gained from working together. Launching and operating a new veterinary school in B.C. would be very expensive and not a cost-effective means of addressing the current pressures of British Columbia’s veterinary industry,” she said.

According to a report by the Society of B.C. Veterinarians, the need in B.C. for vets is outstripping the demand by a gap of approximately 100 vets per year.