A key challenge for the livestock sector is the shortage of veterinarians ...especially large animal vets.

As with the medical profession, we see international vets immigrating to the country that are looking to practice in Canada. 

In order to do so they must complete a Clinical Proficiency Examination at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan.

Dean Dr. Gillian Muir says they are the only institution in Canada to offer the four-day exam which they host three or four times a year.

"The applicants for this exam need to demonstrate their competency in a number of areas that cover the breadth of what veterinarians do in Canada. So food animal practice, equine practice, surgery, anesthesia, small animal medicine, medical imaging, a whole number of the regular work that veterinarians do all the time."

She says this is the final step of a lengthy process.

Prior to taking the Clinical Proficiency Exam, there are a number of written exams that applicants need to pass before they get to this stage

Applicants need to reach a 70 percent passing grade in order to practice in Canada.

Each year between 50-55 foreign-trained veterinarians are licensed to practice here.

Dr. Muir notes that with the COVID Pandemic, they were not able to offer the Clinical Proficiency Examination as much, so there's now a  backlog of people they are trying to work through.

Another added challenge is the need for labs and teaching resources by students who are enrolled in the Western College of Veterinary Medicine.

The shortage of veterinarians - especially large animal vets - is a key concern in rural areas as we're seeing more vets choosing to retire and no one coming in to fill that vacancy.

The challenge it seems is that new graduating vets tend to choose urban areas to practice.