There's a growing concern over the need for more veterinarians in rural areas, especially for large animals.

The challenge is not only trying to get people involved in the industry, but also in trying to get them to set up their practice in rural areas and focus on livestock production.

Manitoba has announced plans to address their shortage of rural vets.

The government has reached an agreement with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) at the University of Saskatchewan to include another five students from Manitoba for 2023-24.

Under the new agreement, the province is increasing its funding contribution to WCVM by $539,200 for the 2023-24 academic year to a total of over $7 million in annual funding.

Agriculture Minister Derek Johnson says the overall goal is to address the critical shortage of veterinarians providing care for commercial livestock and poultry operations in rural Manitoba.

The new agreement increases the number of subsidized seats for Manitoba students from 15 to 20, and the student quota (the number in the four years of the program) to 65 from 60  with an overall goal of putting 80 Manitoba students annually through the program.

Tyler Fulton, President of the Manitoba Beef Producers says this is an important step toward addressing the shortage of veterinarians in rural Manitoba.

Just last month, Saskatchewan announced similar plans increasing the number of seats for subsidized students at the WCVM from 20 to 25.

Agriculture Minister David Marit said the move is in addition to the expansion of the provincial loan forgiveness program for veterinarians and veterinary technologists.

In 2022-23, the Government of Saskatchewan will provide $11.9 million to the WCVM.  

The new commitment to add seats will mean an investment of $539,000 in 2023-24, increasing annually to $2.2 million by 2026-27 when fully implemented over the four-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program.

Earlier this year, Alberta announced plans to double the number of seats in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Calgary.

The Province announced an $8.4 million investment over three years to support enrolment expansion in the program, while providing another $59 million in capital funding over three years for the construction of new infrastructure to accommodate future learners. 

Alberta’s government is laying the groundwork for the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine to accommodate more students, increasing the existing number of seats in the program by up to 50.  

Nate Horner, Minister of Agriculture Forestry and Rural Economic Development says veterinary medicine is a key sector in our rural economy, and more Alberta-trained vets is a big win for our livestock sector.