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Veterinarian resolution will call for more rural students

Veterinarian shortage impacting rural Alberta

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - The county’s agricultural service board plans to submit an updated resolution to the Nov. 1 Central Region Agricultural Service Board provincial conference calling for more to be done to address the current shortage of rural based, large animal veterinarians in Alberta, say officials.

Specifically, the updated resolution is expected to focus on a call for more rural students to be admitted to veterinary schools. The matter was discussed at length at the board's recent regularly scheduled meeting, held in person and on Zoom.

The county board is made up of county council members and appointed members of the local agriculture community. It is chaired by producer Brian Rodger.

A resolution recently accepted by the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) calls, in part, for the government of Alberta to “improve veterinary education opportunities and official support the development of new programs at the University of Calgary veterinary medicine faculty (UCVM) through actions that include development of a rural practitioner stream.”

It also calls for the participation of RMA in UCVM programs of outreach for “rural municipalities to encourage and support successful rural student admission to UCVM.”

The resolution was spearheaded by Mountain View County councillor and agricultural service board member Dr. Gord Krebs, a veterinarian.

The resolution also states that, “Veterinary medicine is critical to rural Alberta’s economy, rural community sustainability and quality of life via its contributions to agriculture, food safety and animal health and welfare.”

During the recent county board meeting, Jane Fulton, assistant director of agricultural services, said submitting an updated resolution to the upcoming provincial conference is “another chance for another body to help advocate on this issue.”

Board members discussed the need to continue to lobby stakeholders, such as provincial agricultural service board officials, to get more students from rural backgrounds into the veterinary field.

Coun. Krebs said, “We need to get more rural kids accepted into vet school to come back to rural Alberta. That’s where I’d like to see the board push for getting more rural-minded kids accepted into vet school. The one thing we can do to start with is to get more farm kids into this (profession).”

Coun. Alan Miller said, “I think we need to move this up to the central region as quickly as we can and follow through with it. This affects every one of the producers in my area.”

Coun. Dwayne Fulton said, “With the passing of it (the original resolution) at RMA that’s one step, and I think that is important to remember, but we can’t just rely on one being passed at one convention. The issue isn’t going to go away. We need to keep the momentum going as much as we can until  there are changes made that are actually going to provide the benefit we need long term. This is important for Alberta.”

The board passed a motion instructing administration to prepared an update resolution for the Central Region Agricultural Service Board conference and bring it back to the next board meeting for review and possible approval.

Krebs will be working with administration on the updated resolution.

“I’d be happy to present it and answer any questions that they throw at me,” said Krebs.

It is estimated that there are currently at least 864 veterinary professional vacancies in Alberta, including 377 veterinarians, members heard.

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