Alberta government's pull out from vet partnership hurting Albertans

Last October, the government of Alberta pulled its $8 million in annual funding for the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM), abandoning a partnership that has delivered consistent value for money to Albertans for over 50 years.

In deciding to go it alone, the government of Alberta is not only hurting Albertans, but the veterinary profession and animal health across Western Canada. WCVM’s strength depends on stable funding from all four western provinces; losing Alberta is like cutting a leg off a sturdy chair.

Working together, Canada’s western provinces created the WCVM — an internationally recognized veterinary college that supports animal health, food safety and public health.

Hundreds of Albertans have graduated from WCVM programs, and in the West, only WCVM provides comprehensive training for veterinary specialists. Many WCVM-trained veterinarians from other provinces also work in Alberta. Between 2013 and 2017, 97 WCVM graduates — 18 more vets than Alberta paid for — found jobs in this province. More than half of those new graduates joined large or mixed-animal clinics in rural communities where veterinarians are urgently needed.

WCVM-based diagnostic services have helped save thousands of animals’ lives and helped protect your families from disease outbreaks and food safety threats. Investing in WCVM has been a consistent net gain for this province and its people.

Albertans have had access to WCVM infrastructure, programs, research, expertise and equipment for five decades. Walking away from this successful partnership cuts off Alberta from these resources and weakens the province’s leadership role in veterinary medicine.

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This op-ed article was first published in the Edmonton Journal (Jan. 16, 2018).

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