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RDBN keeps pressuring for more seats at veterinary school

Supporting request to fund 40 students yearly at Western College of Veterinary Medicine
The RDBN is trying to get more available seats for B.C. veterinary students at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. (File photo/Lakes District News)

The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako has committed to supporting a request by the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) and the North Central Local Government Association provincial government with regards to funding of veterinary students.

The request of the government is to commit to funding a total of 40 veterinary students from B.C. under the Inter-Provincial Agreement (IPA) in each year for four years at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) in Saskatchewan. The WCVM is the only veterinary school in Canada that accepts B.C. students.

This isn’t the first time the RDBN has reached out to the government about this matter. In December, after corresponding with the government requesting more seats be available, the RDBN received a letter from Minister of Advanced Education Anne Kang stating that the amount of seats available for B.C. students had been increased from 20 to 32 in 2021.

However, these 12 additional students pay the international student tuition rates and are not sponsored by the province. As a result, the 12 B.C. students must pay over $65,000 annually in tuition, while students sponsored under the IPA pay approximately $11,000 annually in tuition.

Should the ministry choose to increase their sponsorship level, the total cost of 40 students each year will be $17.4 million, as opposed to the $8.7 million that is currently allocated in the budget.

Although the Ministry of Agriculture remains supportive of increasing B.C.’s number of sponsored students at WCVM to 40, the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training does not consider this action to be a funding priority according to RDBN staff.

The reason for needing more veterinary students is due to a province wide shortage. 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.

Megan D’arcy, RDBN regional agriculture coordinator, told RDBN rural and agriculture committee members that the issue has support from several organizations.

Corey Van’t Haaff, the Executive Director of the CVMA Society of B.C. Veterinarians Chapter has indicated that the B.C SPCA, animal rescue and animal welfare groups, cattle ranchers and other livestock farmers have all expressed concern about the consequences of the veterinary shortage.

The RDBN will request a meeting with Premiere John Horgan to discuss the issue.

READ MORE: Province responds to RDBN vet request

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Eddie Huband
Multimedia Reporter
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