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More vets for underserved Ontario areas

More vets for underserved Ontario areas

Veterinary graduates can now apply for funding to practice in areas with critical labour shortages with help from a new Ontario government program.

By Andrew Joseph, Farms.com

The Ontario government has just announced its new Veterinary Incentive Program, which it hopes will encourage newly licensed veterinarians to practice in northern and underserved communities.

The up-and-running program will provide a grant of up to $50,000 over five years to each veterinarian who is willing to move to one of these communities to provide care to the livestock and poultry there.

“Veterinary services are a necessity for the agricultural community across Ontario, and our government recognizes the long-standing issues that farmers in underserviced areas have experienced when trying to access these services,” said Lisa Thompson, the Minister of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). “Through this initiative, we’re taking action to fix it. The Veterinary Incentive Program will ensure the sustainability and continued health of Ontario’s livestock sector.”

Through this Veterinary Incentive Program, up to 100 newly licensed veterinarians will be incentivized to provide specialized care to animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, and poultry in underserved locations of the province.

The program is being delivered by the Agricultural Adaptation Council (AAC), with program details, eligibility requirements, and information on how to apply available on the AAC website – HERE.

The AAC is a not-for-profit organization that represents Ontario’s agriculture and food industry, with nearly 60 agriculture, food, and rural organizations comprising its membership and board of directors.

“Access to veterinary care is vital to ensuring a prosperous Ontario livestock value chain, especially in underserved areas,” said Doug Alexander, Chair of the AAC. “We are pleased to have been chosen to deliver this unique, timely incentive program for newly licensed veterinarians on behalf of OMAFRA.”

The Veterinary Incentive Program and the new Collaborative Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program were announced in the 2023 BudgetBuilding a Strong Ontario—to help address the veterinary capacity shortage and attract new talent to veterinary medicine.

This program is designed to make it easier for farmers and large animal owners to access veterinary care where and when they need it, encourage newly licensed veterinarians to find rewarding work, and open the door for veterinarians to practice in northern Ontario and rural communities.

“We know that access to care for livestock animals is critical to rural and northern communities,” said Jill Dunlop, Minister of the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities. “By encouraging new veterinary graduates to practice in underserviced areas, the Veterinary Incentive Program will help address labour shortages head-on, connect highly skilled veterinarians to great careers, and support local economic growth.”

This program builds on other measures the government has taken to increase access to veterinary care.

In November 2022, the government launched consultations to explore opportunities to modernize the Veterinarians Act. A discussion paper on the proposed amendments was posted on the Regulatory Registry. Feedback received during the consultation period is now being reviewed and will inform possible changes to the Act in the future.


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