Vets needed

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Big Lakes County is on a mission to recruit a veterinarian to care and treat large animals.
The High Prairie region is without the services for local livestock producers.
At its regular meeting Dec. 8, council approved a recommendation to create an annual grant program of $40,000 to recruit a vet for large animals.
“We’re trying to attract vets for our area,” says High Prairie East – Banana Belt Councillor Tyler Airth, a farmer.
“We’re hoping for two vets.
“We’re just trying to find a way to get somebody here.”
He says the specialized vets are vital to the county.
“Vets for large animals is very important for producers in our region and we need to recruit some to come here,” Airth says.
“We want to work with all partners to recruit a vet.”
Until 2020, the County was part of the Veterinary Services Incorporated [VSI], which cost the County $42,400 a year, says Brett Hawken, director of community and protective services.
“However, the program was not working to keep a vet in the area and council made a decision to leave the program for the 2021 budget,” Hawken says.
In the 2021 budget, council decided to keep $40,000 in the agricultural operating budget to recruit a veterinarian for large animals, but no official program was initiated.
A recruitment program was suggested in a discussion with the agricultural advisory committee.
“The idea is to create a grant program to supplement a working vet’s salary or recruit a student to encourage a large-animal vet to move, live and work full time in the municipality,” Hawken says.
“The goal is to have a full-time large-animal vet for producers so they don’t have to travel to Valleyview, Peace River and Westlock when they are having issues with their large animals.”
Hawken says administration has discussed the issue with Mosaic Veterinary Partners Ltd., that owns and operates High Prairie Veterinary Services.
“If successful to recruit a vet for High Prairie, Mosaic said it would contribute dollars to the grant program, so it wouldn’t be fully funded by Big Lakes County,” Hawken says.
The grant would be structured through a signed agreement that guarantees the vet would live and work within the county for each year the vet accepts the grant money.
Another farmer on council says a shortage of the specialized vets is an issue in northern parts across Canada.
“It’s not just a Big Lakes County issue,” Heart River – Salt Prairie Councillor Garrett Zahacy says.
He adds vet training programs are located in the southern parts of several provinces across Canada. Many trained vets don’t want to relocate to northern regions.

Share this post