Red Deer County has added its voice to a call for the Alberta government to take steps to deal with a veterinarian shortage “crisis.”
Council unanimously agreed to support a Mountain View County resolution urging the government to develop a rural veterinary practice stream and double the number of training spaces from 50 to 100 at University of Calgary’s Veterinary Medicine Faculty.
The county also wants to see efforts boosted to recruit foreign veterinarians, develop online support programs for practising vets and for the Rural Municipalities Association (RMA) to work with the university to encourage and support students heading to the veterinarian program.
“Attraction and retention of rural-based veterinary medical professionals has not been keeping pace with increased demand,” says Mountain View County.
In background information for its resolution, the county says there are 377 veterinarian vacancies in Alberta and 487 unfilled veterinarian technologist positions. A 2021 professional workforce study estimated that the shortage of veterinary professionals will grow 3.5 times by 2040, creating a shortage of nearly 3,400 vets and vet technologists.
Rural communities’ post-COVID-19 growth opportunities will be restricted if action is not taken to reduce vet shortages.
In 2020, there were 1,832 vets and 1,852 vet technologists, employing 6,600 full-time equivalent positions. Alberta’s vet practices contribute about $2 billion to the provincial economy, not counting their contributions to the $9.7 billion agriculture contributes to the economy.
Resolutions first go through a zone meeting and then are taken to the RMA’s convention to be debated.