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How Does the CVMA Support the Veterinary Profession as a Whole?

October 30, 2018

The CVMA’s mission is to be the national and international voice for Canada’s veterinarians, providing leadership and advocacy for veterinary medicine. That’s why leadership on national veterinary issues and animal welfare advocacy are 2 of the CVMA’s key strategic priorities. Below are some of the CVMA’s initiatives that underpin these strategic priorities and in turn, support the entire veterinary profession.

CVMA Summit

The Annual CVMA Summit is a forum where Canadian and international veterinary leaders share information on key issues in veterinary medicine. These Summit discussions have proven invaluable in exploring and adopting common approaches to challenges in our profession. All CVMA Convention delegates can attend this event, hosted annually during the CVMA Convention. The 2018 CVMA Summit was on The Changing Dynamics of Private Practice. Veterinary private practice is rapidly changing. Corporate practice ownership is the new reality facing graduates as they enter the workforce and for veterinarians planning an exit strategy. As client expectations and the level of care veterinary teams provide their patients continue to rise, so does practitioners’ stress trying to meet these demands. This past July, at the 2018 CVMA Convention in Vancouver, British Columbia the veterinary profession addressed these challenges and provided strategies for dealing with these concerns.

National Issues Forum

The Annual CVMA National Issues Forum allows CVMA members an opportunity to express their views on a topic of national interest in the veterinary community. Forum discussions have proven invaluable in exploring and formulating positions on important veterinary issues. All CVMA Convention delegates can attend this event, hosted during the CVMA Convention. The 2018 CVMA National Issues Forum discussed and explored issues and challenges pertaining to to the Therapeutic Use of Cannabinoids in Veterinary Medicine.

Government relations

The CVMA advocates for Canadian veterinarians to influence relevant legislative and policy issues that may threaten the veterinary scope of practice and the health of humans and animals. The CVMA has been involved in the scheduling and registration of pharmaceuticals, drug access, prescribing privileges, the ability to use drugs extra-label, the use of antimicrobial drugs and antimicrobial resistance, animal protection and welfare legislation, and labor mobility and more. Another area of focus for the CVMA now is cannabis; more specifically the use of medicinal cannabis for companion animals. With the legalization of cannabis in Canada, the profession is eager to know how they fit into potentially prescribing it to pets. The CVMA has lobbied the federal government to ensure veterinarians are included under the definition of “medical practitioner” under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations. The CVMA also requested properly labelled human products to protect animals, and to have certain cannabis products included under the low risk Veterinary Health Products category. Canada is also facing a national health crisis with a growing number of overdoses and deaths caused by opioids. The veterinary profession’s exposure in this area pertains to clients engaging in “doctor” shopping, seeking opioid prescriptions for their pets from several veterinarians with the intent to use the drugs themselves. Health Canada’s Veterinary Drug Directorate reached out to the CVMA to help address this issue in veterinary practices. The CVMA produced a document titled “Opioids: Risk Evaluation/Mitigation Strategies in Veterinary Medicine.” The document includes information on risk assessment and strategic management of opioid class medications, staff orientation and training, internal quality assurance, and client education.

International relations

The CVMA ensures the voice of Canadian veterinarians circle the globe. Food safety, drug supply, labor mobility, education, standards, and global trade are some of the issues crossing borders and that may impact the profession, the scope of practice, or practice standards. The CVMA ensures Canadian veterinarians’ involvement in these matters and provides national and international leadership in global discussions. The CVMA is part of the Canadian delegation to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and represents Canadian veterinarians with the World Veterinary Association, North American Veterinary Medical Education Consortium, North American Veterinary Leaders, Commonwealth Veterinary Association, PANVET, World Small Animal Veterinary Association, Pet Nutrition Alliance, Partners for Healthy Pets, and the International Veterinary Officers Council.

Improving antimicrobial stewardship in Canada

Veterinary oversight of antimicrobial use is being strengthened in Canada as part of the fight against antimicrobial resistance. This means important changes for companion and food-producing animal practitioners. For example, by year’s end, all feed and water antimicrobials will be available upon veterinary prescription only. The CVMA lobbied for this significant change for over 2 decades and its Veterinary Pharmaceutical Stewardship Advisory Group, in collaboration with the veterinary regulatory bodies, developed a Pan-Canadian Framework of Professional Standards for Veterinarians, which has been communicated to Canadian veterinarians. The CVMA has been delivering regular information and updates to all Canadian veterinarians on the new regulatory requirements.

Media and public relations

The CVMA is the veterinary profession’s national voice and provides credible, expert information to the media and public. The CVMA carefully monitors and identifies issues that affect you. For the 3rd year, the CVMA declared March as National Tick Awareness Month. In collaboration with its industry partner, Merck Animal Health, the Association produced numerous communication tools including a video series called “What do you really know about ticks?” providing answers to pet owners’ frequently asked questions. These videos have educational lasting power for clinics to use anytime. Animal Health Week (AHW) is an annual national public awareness campaign and an opportunity for your health care team to celebrate your community’s animal health. Each year, through the AHW chosen theme, the veterinary community draws attention to an important health-related message. CVMA members receive discounted prices on AHW merchandise and online promotional marketing tools are available. AnimalHealthCare.ca is a website, created and administered by the CVMA, to provide animal owners with general information on common animal health issues and conditions, as well as helpful resources. All articles are provided by Canadian veterinarians and promote preventive veterinary care. You can recommend this reliable online resource to your clients with total confidence. The public website can also be accessed through the CVMA Website’s Animal Owners section.

Position statements

The CVMA’s National Issues Committee (NIC) and Animal Welfare Committee (AWC) review and monitor veterinary and animal welfare issues on an ongoing basis. The Committees research and develop position statements on issues or matters judged to be of member concern. The CVMA’s NIC and AWC carefully consider member feedback and feedback from the provincial veterinary associations, regulatory bodies and stakeholder groups, and take these into account as a final draft document is prepared. Scientific evidence and/or ethics form the basis of the position statements. Once final draft statements are finalized by the Committees, they are presented to CVMA Council for approval and adoption. The purpose of CVMA position statements is to serve as guidelines and principles addressing veterinary issues and the stewardship and welfare of animals. They are meant to guide the profession, and educate the public on the veterinary viewpoint on select issues. Positions provide a “forward-thinking” viewpoint on issues based on what is happening, not just in Canadian society and the veterinary profession, but internationally.

Research & knowledge

The CVMA responds to demands for research and knowledge in various fields of veterinary medicine through offering continuing education opportunities and the publication of The Canadian Veterinary Journal and the Canadian Journal of Veterinary Research.

Canadian Veterinary Reserve

The CVMA operates the Canadian Veterinary Reserve (CVR), which has a national, volunteer membership of qualified Canadian veterinarians who are available to rapidly assist governments in responding to outbreaks of foreign animal disease and other large-scale emergencies and disasters affecting animals.

National Examining Board (NEB)

The CVMA administers the exams for Canadian and internationally trained veterinarians and issues the Certificate of Qualification, which makes candidates eligible to apply for licensure in any jurisdiction in Canada. The NEB also participates with the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association in an accreditation program for colleges of veterinary medicine to ensure that minimum standards are met.

Animal Health Technicians and Technologists Program Accreditation

The CVMA provides for the Canada-wide veterinary technician program accreditation, with the goal of setting standards that best meet the needs of the veterinary healthcare teams.

If you have questions or would like more information about any of the CVMA initiatives mentioned in this article, you can visit the CVMA website or contact the CVMA.