Hot work! Veterinarian shortage expected to last for years as the number of pet owners increases

Staff shortage is particularly prevalent in emergency and triage situations, rural areas and food production

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A walk down any street or in any park makes it clear that the pandemic has prompted many Canadians to buy dogs, and there are even more new pets behind closed doors.


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According to Narrative Research, 18% of Canadian pet owners said in November 2020 that they had gotten a new pet since the start of the pandemic, with 18 to 24 year olds the most likely. have bought one. At the time, 55% of households reported having a pet. The numbers have only increased since then.

The increase in the number of pet owners goes hand in hand with an increase in demand for pet care, and the veterinary profession is reporting staffing shortages across the country.

A study by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) found that the number of veterinarians graduating from 3.5 to 4% needed to be increased. The current growth rate is 2.5 percent, while the retirement rate is around 3 percent. Demand for veterinarians is expected to peak in 2040.


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Louis Kwantes, president of CVMA, said understaffing is particularly prevalent in emergency and yard situations, rural areas, where large farm animals need to be cared for, and food production.

“When dealing with food production and food safety, due to the inspection of meat and zoonotic diseases, which can spread from animals to humans, (the need for vets) is extremely important,” said Kwantes. “Especially when you think of international trade.

What is to pay?

According to the federal government job bank, the average annual salary for a veterinarian ranges from $ 30,229 to $ 139,667, with Alberta posting the highest rate at $ 145,253. Based on 351 salaries, Indeed Canada reports that the average salary is $ 97,657 per year.


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Who is it for ?

Most people think of animal care when they think of veterinarians, but the profession also encompasses roles such as food safety inspectors and those who work with large animals in the agriculture and dairy industries. Even beyond direct animal care, veterinarians have many roles to fulfill.

“Some people like to do research, and they never even look after an animal in a feedlot or a pet, but they just get into biochemical research or disease control.” , Kwantes said.

Due to its specialized nature, you will need post-secondary education and there are five accredited colleges in Canada: Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown, Saint-Hyacinthe at the University of Montreal, the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph , the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatoon and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Calgary.


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Each of the schools has its own admission requirements and offers a four to five year university degree in veterinary medicine. At the end of all of this, you will usually take a national certification exam and need a provincial license.

“(It’s not just about) loving animals. There is also a real intrigue or interest in biology and I think the vet training is probably one of the strongest in comparative medicine because we are looking at all of these different species, ”Kwantes said. “And so the training that we have in biology, embryology and so on is a very important part of our training. “

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He also notes that a high GPA does not necessarily indicate a genuine love of animals or good communication skills, which are necessary to establish a good career, and cites “a number of schools that are considering admission requirements different “to accommodate those who can do excellent vets, but don’t necessarily have the grades.

Where are the jobs?

Anywhere in Canada where people have pets, they will need care. Specifically, the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association has stated that there are 1,800 practicing veterinarians and 370 vacant positions. On the west coast, the Society of BC Veterinarians has warned the province is on the verge of a shortage of 500 veterinarians by 2024.

According to the 2020 CVMA study, nearly one in five clinics had reduced their opening hours due to a shortage of vets to fill shifts, and the likelihood of a vacant position is highest. high in Quebec and Saskatchewan. On average, clinics were looking to hire 1.4 veterinarians and 1.8 veterinary technicians.

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