Workforce Initiatives Update: Pre-Budget Submission, Economic Assessment, and National Testing Centre

November 8, 2023

Pre-Budget Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance in Advance of the Upcoming 2024 Federal Budget

The CVMA has hired Impact Public Affairs, a full-service government relations and communications firm, to help lobby the federal government to provide support to address the workforce shortage and support the profession overall. We have recently submitted three recommendations to the government in advance of the 2024 Federal Budget.

Recommendation #1: Ensuring there is a robust veterinary workforce through additional investments for projects and veterinary infrastructure. This can be achieved by recruiting and onboarding foreign trained veterinarians, establishing a national testing center for internationally educated veterinarians, and ensuring there are dedicated funds to support veterinary infrastructure.

Recommendation #2: Investment in the mental health of all veterinary professionals and paraprofessionals in an effort to improve the overall well-being of veterinary teams and remove the stigma associated with mental health issues in the profession.

Recommendation #3: Investment in ways to maintain and strengthen the availability of critical veterinary drugs in the interest of protecting public health and safety, animal health and welfare, and food safety and security. We believe Canada should lead in collaboration with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency to improve shared drug approval pathways making the process more efficient and effective.

You can view the full submission under the Government Relations page of the Policy and Outreach section of the CVMA website.

In addition to these submitted recommendations, we are working with CVMA Council members to arrange meetings with their individual MPs and MPPs to discuss and advocate for these recommendations in person.

Economic Impact Assessment

The CVMA is working with MNP, a business advisory firm, to undertake an economic impact assessment of the veterinary profession across Canada to demonstrate its contributions to the gross domestic product, employment, tax revenue, and household spending from veterinary practices.

The report will also communicate social and community contributions of the sector through short case studies. The findings of this assessment will be used to support the CVMA and member associations’ advocacy efforts with government and other key decision-makers, as well as to inform membership and internal stakeholders. The project has been underway for a couple of months with a draft report expected very soon.

Supporting a National Testing Centre for Internationally Trained Veterinarians at the WCVM

Dr. Gillian Muir, Dean, of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM), with the support of the CVMA, recently submitted a briefing note to the federal government requesting funding to support a National Testing Centre for internationally trained veterinarians at the WCVM. 

Several of Canada’s five veterinary colleges — including the WCVM — are working on plans to increase enrolment in their DVM programs. But the country needs a more immediate solution to address the ever-increasing demand for veterinarians, especially in the areas of food animal practice and regulatory veterinary medicine.

The WCVM is Canada’s only English-language host site for the four-day clinical proficiency examination (CPE). The WCVM works with the CVMA to host CPE events several times a year, but the college’s limitations in space and resources restrict exam enrolment and frequency of testing.

With existing facilities and resources, the CPE program currently places up to 55 qualified veterinarians into the profession each year. That number can be tripled by establishing a dedicated national CPE testing centre at the WCVM.

The multi-purpose CPE testing centre will include:

  • multiple stations to assess candidates’ clinical proficiency in medical examination
  • multi-user surgical suite
  • veterinary pathology suite
  • basic medical imaging facilities
  • anesthesia induction and recovery areas
  • housing for live animals

The cost range for building the testing centre is between $40 million and $50 million, based on initial estimates.

When the centre’s resources are not in use for the national CPE program, the multi-purpose facility will be available for re-training and testing of both nationally and internationally educated veterinarians, and teaching and testing of veterinary students.

The facility will also serve as a hub for continuing education courses as well as extension and outreach events for livestock producers, Indigenous communities, and other stakeholders.