Alberta students will no longer be eligible to attend the Sask. school after 2020
By Diego Flammini
Alberta high school students interested in becoming a vet will soon only have one option for their education.
Alberta’s provincial government announced in October that it would no longer invest about $8 million per year to Saskatchewan’s Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) after 2020. About half of that money will be used to fund new veterinary seats at the University of Calgary’s school of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM)
The governments of British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan also provide funding to the WCVM.
Each year, the school accepts 20 of its 78 students from Alberta. It reserves the same number of seats for students from Saskatchewan and B.C.
The remaining 18 seats are divided between students from Manitoba, indigenous communities and northern territories.
Once Alberta’s funding ends, students from this province will not be eligible for enrollment at the WCVM. Their only option in Western Canada will be UCVM.
“This is a huge blow for many,” Dr. Doug Freeman, dean of the WCVM, told Farms.com today. “We’ve had communications from Alberta and beyond expressing their disappointment in the decision to pull (funding), especially since it’s been such a successful partnership for more than 50 years.”
Excluding Alberta students from WCVM also limits the number of people eligible to work in the veterinary industry.
About 50 Albertans earn their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine between the two schools in Alberta and Saskatchewan each year, but that’s not enough to meet the demands of the industry, Freeman said.
“The veterinarians in Alberta would like to see about 70 seats funded each year,” he said.
Around 90 veterinary jobs are currently advertised in Alberta, he added.
If Alberta’s government doesn’t change its mind on the funding decision, other provinces may be able to fund the vacated WCVM seats.
“We still have three partners left in the college and we’ve been talking to them about options,” Freeman said. “B.C. is considering more seats and I think the labour market in Saskatchewan would support it as well.”
Since Alberta’s funding to WCVM doesn’t end until 2020, both parties have time to come up with an alternative solution to the province completely pulling its funding.
“We’re not going to ask them to choose one school or another,” Freeman said. “But perhaps there’s a scenario where Alberta can fund seats at both schools.”
WCVM has set up www.keepvetmedstrong.ca for anyone seeking more information on the impact of Alberta pulling its funding.
Western College of Veterinary Medicine/University of Saskatchewan photo.