Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Explores Workforce Shortage and Climate Change

July 22, 2022

Halifax, N.S. – The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) explored issues and challenges pertaining to the veterinary workforce shortage and the impact of climate change on veterinary medicine during the 73rd CVMA Annual Convention in Halifax, N.S.

The CVMA Summit, Time for a Veterinary Workforce Paradigm Shift, examined veterinary workforce issues in a new light focusing on veterinary retention and recruitment, workforce mobilization/utilization, and novel alternative veterinarian extender concepts in the veterinary workforce.

"The continuing veterinary workforce crisis has been exacerbated by the challenges of the ongoing pandemic,” says Dr. Louis Kwantes, 2021-22 CVMA President. “Several provincial veterinary medical associations have successfully lobbied their governments to increase funding to help support more veterinary student seats. We must take advantage of this momentum and explore ways to support our veterinary industry including maximizing the use of support staff such as registered veterinary technologists and technicians and supporting our veterinary teams in what is an extremely demanding profession."

The CVMA Summit heard from three experts:

  • Mr. Mark Cushing explored the current state, causes, and impact of the North American shortage of veterinarians and veterinary technicians/nurses, and what we can do about it.
  • Dr. Kristen Burrows discussed understanding the role of Physician Assistants in extending the Physician health workforce in Canada and how a similar model could benefit veterinary medicine.
  • Ms. Becky Taylor, RVT, examined mobilizing current Registered Veterinary Technicians and Technologists (RVTs) who are hungry for more responsibility and have a desire to engage in specific training so they can see clients and patients within the scope and regulation of their jurisdiction, thus easing the burden on veterinarians, enhancing client and patient experience, and achieving increased job satisfaction.

The CVMA National Issues Forum, Veterinary Medicine and Natural Disasters, focused on the role of the veterinary team in dealing with the impact of natural disasters, such as fires and floods, on animal health and welfare. It explored response strategies and planning, lessons learned from recent events in Canada and the U.S., and how the veterinary profession can prepare for future events.

"We can no longer ignore the crisis of climate change and the natural disasters it causes," adds Dr. Kwantes. "The veterinary community has long known that we need to be prepared for these catastrophes and make the necessary changes to mitigate them from happening. These terrible situations gravely affect human health, animal health, and the environment. This is a serious One Health concern."

The CVMA National Issues Forum heard from four experts on the topic:

  • Dr. Jennifer Jackson discussed the veterinary response to B.C. wildfires and lessons learned.
  • Dr. Lisa McCrea explored the veterinary response to B.C. floods and lessons learned.
  • Mr. Geoff Urton examined the humane organization’s response to recent B.C. natural disasters and lessons learned.
  • Dr. Rebecca McConnico discussed training veterinarians to respond to natural disasters.

The convention featured the announcement of the new CVMA President, Dr. Chris Bell, a board-certified equine surgeon from Manitoba. Additionally, the 2022 CVMA Awards Gala recognized individuals and groups for their outstanding contribution to veterinary medicine.

The CVMA Annual Convention gathered over 500 veterinary professionals from across the country from July 21 to 24 to attend Canada’s only national multi-species convention.

The convention featured over 50 esteemed national and international speakers addressing topics ranging from companion animals, veterinary forensics, business management, equine health, animal welfare, and more.

Lori Ahronson
Manager, Communications and Public Relations
Canadian Veterinary Medical Association
613-697-0762 (cell)

About the CVMA
The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association is the national and international voice for over 15,000 veterinarians in Canada providing leadership and advocacy for veterinary medicine. Visit to learn more.