MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - A resolution put forward by Mountain View County councillor and veterinarian Gord Krebs calling for more to be done to address an ongoing veterinarian shortage in Alberta has passed at the Rural Municipalities of Alberta spring convention in Edmonton.
The resolution passed with 98 per cent support during a members vote on March 15, says Krebs.
It is estimated that there is a current shortage of at least 864 veterinary professional vacancies in Alberta – 377 veterinarians and 487 veterinary technologists.
The Attraction and Retention of Veterinarians to Rural Veterinary Practice resolution highlights the scope of the shortage and calls for action.
Specifically it encourages the Rural Municipalities of Alberta to “support attraction and retention actions to reduce veterinary professional shortages, especially in Alberta.”
It also calls on the Rural Municipalities of Alberta to support veterinary education in Alberta and “urge the government of Alberta to officially endorse new programs at the University of Calgary Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) that will help alleviate the rural veterinarian shortage crisis.”
Actions proposed include development of a rural practitioner stream, participation of Rural Municipalities of Alberta in UCVM programs of outreach to rural municipalities, and increasing the number of Alberta training spaces for veterinarians by doubling the number of UCVM graduates from 50 to 100 per year.
It also calls for the development of an online veterinary support program to help support veterinarians in practice, development of a stackable clinical certificate program allowing for certification of foreign-trained veterinarians, and participation of Rural Municipalities of Alberta in a committee pursuing recruitment of foreign veterinarians.
The resolution also calls on the Rural Municipalities of Alberta to work with UCVM to expand the UCVM admissions committee and for the association to work to “examine and implement best practices to conduct outreach to recruit veterinary students and retain veterinary professionals who will work and reside in rural Alberta.”
“Our rural communities are impacted acutely in the current environment and face restricted economic growth post-COVID without targeted and immediate actions to address the shortages,” Krebs says.
“Attraction and retention of rural based veterinary medical professionals has not been keeping pace with increasing demand.”
After the resolution passed, Krebs said he hopes the provincial government will now act on the recommendations.
The resolution was developed with input from various groups, including the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association and the UCVM.
“Access to local veterinary services for farmers and livestock producers is essential for the sustainability of the primary agriculture industry as well as Alberta’s overall economy,” he said.
“Further, sustainability and growth of our rural communities is dependent on access to veterinary services both today and in the foreseeable future.”
Rural Municipalities of Alberta represents 69 rural municipalities, including Mountain View and Red Deer counties.