CVMA | News & Events | From the CVMA Council Table

News, Events & COVID-19 RESOURCES

From the CVMA Council Table

September 27, 2019

CVMA Strategic Plan 2020–2022: In late 2018, the CVMA, through a 3rd party, conducted a quantitative online survey of members, students, non-members, and a qualitative survey through telephone interviews. Based on the findings, in March 2019, the CVMA conducted a strategic planning workshop that included Council members, Committee chairs and management staff. In July, Council approved 3-year Strategic Priorities and prioritized Objectives. The priorities are as follows:

1) Provide Leadership on National and International Veterinary Issues;

2) Provide Advocacy and Leadership on Animal Welfare;

3) Engage Membership and the Veterinary Community; and 4) Promote Meaningful Careers and Personal Wellness for Veterinary Professionals.

The Priorities and Objectives will guide the CVMA’s operational plans for the next 3 years.

Labor shortage: In most parts of Canada, there appears to be a shortage of veterinarians and veterinary technicians. This is underpinned by record numbers of classified ads, anecdotal information and partially by provincial data collection. The CVMA will be conducting a national labor market study with the intention of using the data for consideration by veterinary college funders, for consideration in Canada’s immigration policies, and for consideration in adapting the veterinary practice as and if needed.

In the meantime, the CVMA has reached out to the AVMA/ CVMA-Council on Education (CoE) accredited international veterinary colleges who will promote Canada as a marketplace to practice veterinary medicine. Over the past 2 years, approximately 40% of all Certificates of Qualification issued by the CVMA’s National Examining Board were issued to graduates of internationally trained veterinarians. This alone provides the Canadian veterinary labor market with significant numbers of veterinarians, over and above the graduates from Canadian veterinary colleges.

Animal Welfare

Neutering of Dogs and Cats:

Council approved the following revised position statement:

“The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) strongly recommends that cats and dogs not intended for breeding be neutered before sexual maturity, except when there are scientifically justifiable health or behavioral benefits that might be gained by delaying the procedure.”

Castration of Horses, Donkeys, and Mules:

Council approved the following revised position statement:

“The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) considers castration of horses, donkeys, and mules a major veterinary surgery, which should only be performed by a veterinarian using appropriate surgical, anesthetic, and analgesic techniques.”

Brachycephalic Dogs:

Council directed that the Animal Welfare Committee conduct research on brachycephalic animals with the intent to increase awareness.

End-of-Life Issues:

Council directed that the Animal Welfare Committee conduct research around end-of-life issues and make recommendations to Council on how to proceed.

Animals in Sport and Competition:

Council approved the following new position statement:

“The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) accepts the humane and ethical use of animals in competition and sport. The CVMA strongly supports progressive implementation of strategies to mitigate risks involved with the care and management of animals used in sport and competition, to promote sound physical, social and psychological health and well-being of the animal, and to find alternatives that end avoidable harm and suffering.”

Use of Animals in Entertainment and Recreation:

Council approved the following revised position statement:

“The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) accepts the humane and ethical use of animals for entertainment and in the arts. The CVMA strongly supports progressive implementation of strategies to mitigate risks involved with the care and management of animals used in entertainment and the arts, to promote sound physical, social and psychological well-being of the animal, and to find alternatives that end avoidable harm and suffering.”

National Issues


Advancing technology is rapidly transforming the practice of veterinary medicine. Medical consultation through telecommunication technology offers opportunities to improve the delivery of animal health care, but also presents challenges to practitioners, animal owners and other stakeholders. At the request of the Canadian veterinary regulatory bodies, the CVMA developed its 1st position statement on telemedicine in 2014. The environment changes rapidly. The CVMA has been in contact with the AVMA and other jurisdictions on this topic. At present, the Association envisions the development of a Pan Canadian Framework on Telemedicine, in conjunction with stakeholders, including regulators.


Since October 2018, human use of recreational cannabis is legal in Canada. This brings potentially more risk of exposure for dogs and there is evidence that reports to Poison Control have increased since that time. Later this year, edibles are scheduled to be legalized as well. Veterinarians are permitted to prescribe and dispense registered drugs with cannabinoids, including extra-label human drugs, however currently there are no veterinary drugs and only one registered human drug not suitable for animals. Currently, the Canadian Veterinary Drugs Directorate has approved clinical trials for veterinary drugs containing cannabinoids, but having one come to market is 6 to 10 years away. The only approved cannabis products for animals available at this time are veterinary health products made from hemp that in fact have no concentrated cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD), make no health claims and are sold at retail outlets. The CVMA has been advocating for inclusion of veterinarians in the Act to authorize cannabis for medical purposes, and for warning labels to keep human cannabis products away from pets.

African Swine Fever:

The CVMA is working with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and other stakeholders to share and promote information to prevent African Swine Fever from infecting the Canadian pig population. As well, the Association has offered the federal government the assistance of its Canadian Veterinary Reserve, made up of volunteer veterinarians who can be deployed in case of major foreign animal diseases or civil emergencies involving animals.

Importation of Dogs:

The CVMA is concerned about the movement of dogs from other countries to Canada that could result in importation of diseases, both canine diseases and zoonoses such as leishmaniasis, Brucella canis infection, and rabies. For the past few years, the CVMA has tried to address this issue by organizing discussions with a number of national stakeholder organizations with similar concerns. To increase awareness, the Association created a checklist for veterinarians and the public and it continues to advocate with the federal government to address this issue.

Service Dogs:

As a government-led stakeholder approach to setting standards was not successful, the CVMA is now working on a position statement and/or guidelines on Service Animals that represents a broadened scope. The Association has conducted an environmental scan of service animal policies in governments and veterinary member associations in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.

Antimicrobial Use:

Since late 2018, all antimicrobials for animals are accessible through a veterinary prescription only (including antimicrobials in feed and water). The CVMA, together with government and other stakeholders, has been assisting this important transition through the provision of resources and information. The CVMA has developed new web-based CVMA Guidelines for Veterinary Antimicrobial Use for 6 species groups: beef; small ruminants; dairy; companion animals (canine, feline); swine; and poultry. In the next phase, the CVMA will add guidelines for equine and aquaculture. Over the next few years, the CVMA will also develop an antimicrobial use surveillance pilot, including food animal veterinary practices. It is the intention to collect these data through electronic veterinary prescriptions, as well as dispensing data from the feed mills. The data will serve to ameliorate antimicrobial stewardship and provide data needed by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

Veterinary Technician Program Accreditation:

Council approved the full accreditation of the Vanier College Animal Health Technology Program, Saint-Laurent (Montreal), Quebec. There are currently 19 CVMA-accredited veterinary technician programs across Canada.

National Examining Board (NEB):

Within the first 6 months of 2019, 245 applicants registered with the NEB compared to 379 over a 12-month period in 2018. Out of these 245 applicants, 105 are from international AVMA/CVMA-CoE accredited colleges. In the first 6 months of 2019, the NEB issued 497 Certificates of Qualification, which compares to 531 for a 12-month period in 2018. The Certificate of Qualification makes veterinarians eligible to apply for licensure in all jurisdictions in Canada.

Council on Education:

For decades, the CVMA has been a member of the AVMA CoE. All 5 Canadian veterinary colleges are AVMA/CVMACoE accredited. So far this year, the CVMA has participated in 5 college site visits and will be visiting another 4 colleges this year. Currently, 50 veterinary colleges are accredited: 30 in the United States, 5 in Canada, 1 in France, 4 in Australia, 1 in New Zealand, 3 in Great Britain, 1 in Ireland, 1 in The Netherlands, 1 in South Korea, 2 in the West Indies, and 1 in Mexico.

Business Management:

The 2018 national economic and trends reports were submitted to Council and presented during the Provincial Forum. Some of the many findings include: number of current and new clients are down from last year; revenues are climbing; expenses are under control; net income is increasing; associate veterinarian compensation is growing nationally and in most provinces. Details can be found on the CVMA website.

Tick Awareness: For the 4th year, the CVMA, in partnership with industry, delivered the national Tick Awareness Month with the objective of raising public awareness on the most pressing questions about ticks and tick control. Target groups are pet owners, veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and the media. The CVMA relied heavily on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) and promoted the campaign through The Canadian Veterinary Journal, provincial veterinary associations, industry publications, its online newsletter and media. The CVMA launched a new educational website for Canadian pet owners.

Mental Health: While 1 in 5 Canadian veterinarians and technologists has reported thoughts of suicide, burnout, and depression, most will be cautious about talking to a co-worker, friend, or family member about it. They are even less likely to adopt self-care strategies or seek professional help. This fall, the CVMA and Merck Animal Health will partner to launch It’s time to talk about mental health awareness week. The objective of the campaign is to start having open and honest conversations about mental health in the veterinary community to help break down the stigma and create a community of support wherein veterinary team members help each other. As part of the campaign, material such as a webinar, social media posts, mental health resources, and prevention tools to help recognize burnout will be produced and distributed to the veterinary community.

2020 CVMA Convention:

Council approved the 2020 Convention Program. Some of the new features will include: A Plenary Session on Friday; 4 labs on Thursday, plus 2 on Friday, and 2 on Sunday; and a public health continuing education (CE) stream on Sunday. The Program will again include a Provincial Summit and a National Issues Forum. The 2020 Convention will take place from Thursday, July 9 to Sunday, July 12 in Quebec City, Quebec.