CVMA | Letter from the Symposium Chair

Remarks from CVMA President, Dr. Melanie Hicks

Dr. Hicks’ Greetings 2020 SCVMA Banquet

Delivered January 18, 2020

Good evening everyone, I’m Dr. Melanie Hicks and I am the current CVMA President. I’m happy to be here along with Terri Chotowetz, Past President, and bring greetings on behalf of your national professional association and all CVMA members, which does include you all, as student members.

CVMA members hail from ALL regions of our country.  For our Council and the SCVMA committee, the opportunities to meet and get to know veterinarians from across Canada… and from around the globe, has been a pretty fantastic experience.  

I want to take a few minutes to let you know of a few CVMA initiatives and how our efforts impact your future career.

On a national level, our association provides the voice of the profession when discussing policy and regulatory matters with the federal government.   

For example, we’ve led initiatives to support the global and national strategies improving antimicrobial stewardship.  Canadians depend on the widespread availability of effective antimicrobials to prevent and treat infections in humans, animals, and crops. But bacteria continually evolve to resist antimicrobials, leading to ineffective drugs, and serious infections, that are increasingly difficult to treat.  Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is on the rise worldwide and is a key concept of the One Health initiative, which examines the connections between the health of animals, humans and the environment.  New data suggests that the potential impact of AMR poses a serious threat to Canada. A Canadian panel of experts found that 26% of infections are resistant to the drugs generally used to treat them. By 2050, resistance rates are likely to rise to 40%.  That’s pretty scary.

So, what are we doing about this?  The CVMA developed an online tool for students and practitioners to improve decision-making surrounding the use antimicrobial drugs.  I’d encourage you to check our website for this, as it may also improve your pharmacology grade.  Furthermore,  we’ve initiated a four-year antimicrobial surveillance project using electronic prescription and dispensing information across the beef, poultry, and swine sectors.

I love the theme symposium theme this year- the progressive future of veterinary medicine, wellness, welfare and well-being.  One of the main priorities of the CVMA is animal welfare. As advocates, we play a strong role in examining animal welfare aspects of proposed legislations. For example, the CVMA actively lobbied to strengthen the Criminal Code with respect to animal cruelty and this past year, Bill C-84, passed through Parliament and into law.

The CVMA also develops very robust Position Statements addressing animal welfare and optimal care for animals.  In the last year, to name a couple, the CVMA developed Position Statements on “Animals in Sport and Competition” and the “Use of Animals in Entertainment and Recreation.” We actively use these statements when communicating the Canadian veterinary viewpoint on select issues.  In fact, this past summer, we used the “Animals in Sport and Competition” Position Statement to support the work of the Calgary Stampede veterinary teams in the media and, in turn, the Canadian public’s eye.

The CVMA’s Position Statement opposing declawing has also successfully been used by provincial veterinary medical associations in their bid to ban this outdated practice in their provinces.

In respect to wellbeing, we’ve tailored resources to help you from student days, through to managing practice, and planning for retirement. I’m particularly proud of our mental health initiative, which included an awareness week last fall and is continuing with quarterly webinar sessions and access to resources.  On a global scale, we’re also working to assist our colleagues with the Australian Veterinary Association during this devastating time with the wildfires.

When we look at our profession, it is progressive and ever evolving.  Look at the amazing advances in technology- the use of Artificial intelligence to generate big data, wearable and implantable monitors for species ranging from cattle to pets.  Telehealth and telemedicine use are exploding worldwide.  We’re faced with the growing population of pet parents who want the best care for their pets.  There are terrific food animal production advancements, allowing farmers to raise healthier stock using less medications such as antimicrobials.  Thus far, we’ve successfully managed to stop the importation of African Swine Fever, a virus which has devastated the pork production markets in China and Europe.  And in fact, the University of Saskatchewan is now working on the development of vaccines and anti-virals to help protect our pork industry. 

I encourage all of you to get involved with this wonderful and rewarding profession; academically, clinically, politically and socially. You’ll NEVER regret it and you’ll highly enrich your veterinary experience.

I would like to extend a big thank you to Ms. Vanessa Fussell, along with her Symposium Planning Committee, the Students of the CVMA Committee representatives, and Nathalie and Alexandra from our CVMA office for their work and dedication to organize this symposium.  Amazing job! 

Before we wrap up by drawing for booth prizes, I want to share a quote.  This is from The Times newspaper in 1834, and its talking about a medical device.  See if you can guess what they are describing.  “It will never come into general use notwithstanding its value.  It’s extremely doubtful because its general application requires much time and gives a good bit of trouble to both the patient and the practitioner, and because its hue and character are foreign and opposed to all our habits and associations.  It is just not going to get used.” 

In this quote in 1834, they are talking about a stethoscope.  Look at how people felt about a device that is now an integral part of our profession and how we have progressed since that time.  On that note, I’d like to take a moment to draw our 3 CVMA booth prize winners.  If I call your name, please come up to collect your beautiful stethoscope! 

Thank you again for letting us share this weekend and celebration with you.