Province spending more than $15 million to train more vets at the University of Guelph and at Lakehead University

Ontario says it will spend more than $15 million to help address veterinary shortages in rural and northern communities. 

The funding will be used to establish a new Collaborative Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program with the University of Guelph and Lakehead University to train more veterinarians. On top of that, the province is also providing grants to new veterinary graduates as an incentive to work in underserved areas in the province.

“Access to veterinary care for farmers and animal owners across the province is critical to ensuring a safe and stable agri-food system,” said Lisa Thompson, minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. 

First announced in the 2023 Ontario budget, the funding will be distributed over two years, starting in 2024-2025 with the launch of the new joint program between the universities.

Currently, the University of Guelph oversees 105 graduating vet students each year; the investment will raise that number to 125 per year, resulting in up to 80 new graduates over four years.

Lakehead and Guelph will be able to enrol an additional 20 students per year, resulting in up to 80 new enrolments by 2028.

This is the first time the number of veterinary spaces has been increased since 1988. It will support the economic growth of Ontario’s agri-food sector by expanding the number of trained vets in Ontario who practice in Northern, rural and Indigenous communities. 

Leveraging the existing University of Guelph Doctor of Veterinary Medicine curriculum, the new DVM program will focus on the recruitment of students from northern, rural and Indigenous communities, the province said in a news release.

“Our government knows supporting in-demand sectors like this starts with addressing labour shortages head-on, and together with our post-secondary institutions, this collaborative new Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program will do just that,” said Jill Dunlop, minister of Colleges and Universities. 

The government is also launching the Veterinary Incentive Program to encourage recent veterinary graduates to practice in underserved and northern communities. This $900,000 investment over three years will provide program participants with annual grants totaling up to $50,000 conditional on the participant continuing to practice on large animals in these communities.

-with files from GuelphToday.com

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