News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

October 7, 2022

Manitoba Government Develops Criteria to Address Shortage of Veterinarians Supporting Rural Commercial Agriculture

STE. ROSE DU LAC—The Manitoba government has finalized further details of its new plan to attract, train and retain veterinarians to support commercial agriculture in rural areas, Agriculture Minister Derek Johnson announced here today.

“Our government has invested in this new strategy to address the critical shortage of veterinarians providing care for commercial livestock and poultry operations in rural Manitoba,” said Johnson. “The agricultural sector is vital to our provincial economy and we are committed to providing support to address the sector’s needs.”

The government has expanded its inter-provincial agreement with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) at the University of Saskatchewan to provide increased annual funding for the acceptance of an additional five Manitoba students beginning in 2023-24, as part of its strategy to build the province’s animal health-care capacity.

Manitoba currently receives 15 guaranteed subsidized seats at the Saskatoon-based WCVM for new entrants annually. The province will increase its funding contribution to WCVM by $539,200 for the 2023-24 academic year to a total of $7,009,600, raising the number of Manitoba intake students to 20 from 15 and to a student quota – the number in the four years of the program – to 65 from 60. The province’s gradually increasing funding commitment will bring its intake to 20 seats from 15 seats every year until it supports 80 Manitoba students annually through the four-year program.

Given the particular need for veterinarians to support commercial livestock and poultry operations in rural Manitoba and for improved biosecurity, the five new intake seats will be targeted for an expansion of veterinary care for the agricultural sector.

Manitoba Agriculture will work closely with WCVM to attract and select students with the rural background, knowledge and passion to become successful as veterinarians who will return to rural Manitoba to support the livestock and poultry industries.

Along with these attributes, students who are selected will be expected to have:

  • an expressed desire to pursue veterinary practices in commercial agriculture in rural Manitoba;
  • a solid academic foundation through achievement in a university-level animal science program; and
  • practical knowledge and experience in the livestock or poultry industries, gained through significant experience prior to enrolment.

“Our government will collaborate with stakeholders and WCVM in upcoming years to ensure the objectives of this targeted approach are met,” said Johnson. “Manitoba Agriculture will also work with educational institutions, agricultural organizations and other stakeholders to ensure information on the new strategy is shared widely.”

More technical criteria for the new intake seats will be developed for 2024-25 and beyond, Johnson added.

“This is an important step toward addressing the shortage of veterinarians in rural Manitoba,” said Tyler Fulton, president, Manitoba Beef Producers. “We appreciate the focus on recruiting students who have a direct interest and first-hand experience in working with animals, and who have been raised in a rural environment. We thank the provincial government for its investment in training more vets.”

In addition, Manitoba Agriculture is exploring options to work collaboratively with the industry to further support these efforts to address its labour market needs, Johnson said.

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