BLYTH – There’s new funding to help veterinary businesses fill service gaps in rural and northern Ontario through virtual telemedicine and mobile clinic technology.
A response to the shortage of food-animal veterinarians in those underserviced areas, the newly launched Livestock Veterinary Innovation Initiative is getting up to $4-million through the joint federal-provincial Canadian Agricultural Partnership fund.
Examples of projects eligible for cost-share support include:
• Equipment to help veterinary practices deliver enhanced virtual care, diagnostic work and tele-medical support for farms.
• Portable, specialized, livestock handling equipment to help veterinary practices or farms manage animals while receiving care; and
• Training for veterinary professionals to help them use new equipment, techniques or deliver more efficient and accessible support to livestock farmers.
Successful applicants can receive up to 35 per cent of eligible expenses province-wide and up to 50 per cent in areas with identified underserviced veterinary capacity. Maximum funding amounts differ by project category.
Veterinary operations can apply from Feb. 15 to March 31, 2022.
“There are many complicated issues facing veterinarians and the provision of veterinary care to Ontario’s producers, including the challenge of increased demand for services amid persistent labour shortages,” Ontario Veterinary Medical Association CEO John Stevens said. He added that his organization is “encouraged” the new initiative “begins to address some of these obstacles….
“As they have since the pandemic began nearly two years ago, veterinarians across Ontario have been working tirelessly to serve their clients and ensure the safety of our food supply during unprecedented times.”
Welcoming the new program as a “step forward,” College of Veterians of Ontario President Lorie Gold observed that lack of veterinary care is “a tremendous concern for an animal owner” and a particular challenge in rural and northern Ontario.
Federal Agriculture and Agri-food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said it was essential that farmers have “easy access to veterinary services, no matter where their farm is located.”
“We know farmers need reliable and timely access to veterinary services to keep their animals healthy and to grow their businesses,” Ontario Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Minister Lisa Thompson said. “This investment will help farmers protect the welfare of livestock animals and add to our government’s efforts to strengthen access to the high-quality foods our farmers produce.”
The Canadian Agricultural Partnership Fund is a five-year, $3-billion commitment by Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments in support of the country’s agri-food and agri-products sectors. The money includes $2-billion cost-shared 60 per cent federally and 40 per cent provincially/territorially for programs that are designed and delivered by provinces and territories.