Attracting, training, and retaining veterinarians to support commercial agriculture in rural Canada is the goal of newly developed criteria in Manitoba.
As part of its strategy to build the province’s animal healthcare capacity, the Manitoba government has expanded its inter-provincial agreement with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) at the University of Saskatchewan to provide increased annual funding for the acceptance of Manitoba students.
“Our government has invested in this new strategy to address the critical shortage of veterinarians providing care for commercial livestock and poultry operations in rural Manitoba,” says the province’s agriculture minister, Derek Johnson. “The agricultural sector is vital to our provincial economy, and we are committed to providing support to address the sector’s needs.”
Currently, Manitoba receives 15 guaranteed subsidized seats at the Saskatoon-based WCVM for new entrants annually.
The province will increase its funding contribution to the college by $539,200 for the 2023-24 academic year to a total of $7,009,600, raising the number of Manitoba intake students from 15 to 20. This gradually increasing funding commitment will bring Manitoba student intake to 20 seats every year until it supports 80 students, annually, through the four-year program.
Given the particular need for veterinarians to support commercial livestock and poultry operations in rural Manitoba and for improved biosecurity, the five new intake seats will be targeted for an expansion of veterinary care for the agricultural sector.
Specifically, selected students will be expected to have:
- an expressed desire to pursue veterinary practices in commercial agriculture in rural Manitoba;
- a solid academic foundation through achievement in a university-level animal science program; and
- practical knowledge and experience in the livestock or poultry industries, gained through significant experience prior to enrolment.
“This is an important step toward addressing the shortage of veterinarians in rural Manitoba,” says Manitoba Beef Producers president, Tyler Fulton. “We appreciate the focus on recruiting students who have a direct interest and first-hand experience in working with animals, and who have been raised in a rural environment.”
“Our government will collaborate with stakeholders and WCVM in upcoming years to ensure the objectives of this targeted approach are met,” Johnson adds. “Manitoba Agriculture will also work with educational institutions, agricultural organizations, and other stakeholders to ensure information on the new strategy is shared widely.”