A new three-person task force will evaluate Manitoba’s rural veterinary services, consult with stakeholders and provide recommendations to government on how to enhance the service, Agriculture, Food and Rural Development Minister Ron Kostyshyn has announced.
The minister has appointed Dr. Paul Schneider, Bertha Russell-Langan and Merv Starzyk to the task force. Over the next six months, it will:
- Hold a series of focus groups with producer associations, members of the veterinary community, the Association of Manitoba Municipalities and other stakeholders to determine focus areas for broader consultations;
- Ask Manitobans for input into the future of rural veterinary services through public meetings and an online consultation;
- Survey current and recently graduated veterinary students;
- Review the current model of providing veterinary service in rural areas including financial statements and caseloads of each clinic;
- Analyze provincial and municipal support provided for vets and veterinary clinics in the Prairie provinces; and
- Make recommendations to the minister on how to ensure Manitoba’s rural veterinary services remain sustainable.
There are currently 145 veterinarians practising in rural Manitoba, providing care and services for livestock and pets.
Manitoba currently has a scholarship program for veterinary students who choose to practise in a rural area for two years after graduation. Since it was established in 2003, more than 45 students have participated, resulting in over 76 years of service returned to rural communities.
The task force report and recommendations are expected in January 2016, the minister said. Additional information about public meetings and online consultations will be posted at the Manitoba Agriculture website and shared on its Twitter account once details are finalized.
Manitoba’s veterinary service was last reviewed in 2007.