Keep the 15 Manitoba subsidized seats at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine

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          In Canada, aspiring Manitoban vet students can ONLY apply to the WCVM. The admissions process is incredibly competitive, in fact only 26% of Manitobans who applied for the 2018-19 year were accepted. Clearly, further reducing available seats would make getting accepted even more challenging. Ultimately this means that there would be even fewer veterinarians to fill job postings in a province that is already facing a shortage in small, mixed and large animal veterinary professionals. Additionally, as the province has expressed a desire to grow the agriculture industry, it should be noted that this is not possible without more large animal veterinarians.

           The WCVM needs provincial support to continue educating veterinarians and so do veterinary students, as the cost of veterinary school is an extreme expense. Currently, tuition is about $10,000 a year, not including supplies and living costs, however tuition for non-subsidized seats, of which five are being offered next year, will be $60,000 a year. This is an expense that many intelligent, motivated individuals could not manage. Many veterinary students already struggle with debt and the proposed changes would only exacerbate the current debt issue. These additional financial strains would also make it more likely for new veterinarians to seek work in metropolitan areas rather than returning to rural Manitoba to practice where incomes are lower, however demand for veterinary services is high.

           Canada has a large agricultural industry and most Canadians own a pet. In fact, the population of companion animals in Canada has increased by about 10% in the last decade. Additionally, the livestock industry continues to see growth with a 7.0%  and 5.6% increase for beef and dairy respectively. Clearly, there is a high need for veterinarians in order to care for the many animals in our society. Not only are veterinarians critical for animal health but human health as well. Therefore, they play an integral role in the One Health initiative which is a multi-discipline effort to attain optimal health for people, animals and the environment. These days there is an increasing level of contact between humans and domestic and wild animals thus increasing the risk for exposure to new viruses, bacteria and other pathogens. Overall education for Manitoban vet students must continue to be supported in order to ensure a healthy society for all of its members.

           We ask that you please raise these proposed changes as an extreme concern with your provincial government officials and advocate for the current 15 funded spots at the WCVM to remain!