The collaborative doctor of veterinary medicine program in rural and Northern community practice was just rolled out by the government of Ontario last week and was of particular interest at the Township of Gillies regular council meeting on Monday.

The collaborative program between Lakehead University and the University of Guelph, starting in the 2024-25 academic year will support the economic growth of Ontario’s agri-food sector by expanding the number of veterinarians trained in Ontario who are practising within Northern, rural and Indigenous communities, ensuring livestock producers have the necessary veterinary services needed to expand operations.

Twenty students from Northern Ontario will be accepted into the program to bolster veterinary services in rural northern communities such as Gillies.

The veterinary incentive program will provide loan assistance to recently graduated veterinarians to practice in underserviced areas and support large animal care. 

“Vet services finally happened last week,” said Gillies Coun. Rudy Buitenhuis. “Third try was a charm.

“We were really wondering about the logistics and practicalities of doing two years here (at Lakehead University) and doing the last two years at the facility at (Guelph University).

“Recognizing the need for it here, to get the lab here, that would add a lot of costs of that program. It makes sense that they would want to finish (their schooling) down (at Guelph University).”

Added Gillies Coun. Bill Groenheide, “If they get it off the ground here in the two years, they said if it goes well, they might add another year here. They’re really hoping to see it get off the ground here, how it’s going to work, how many students come here and if it looks really good, they’ll take the next step.”

Over the last 10 years, a potential deterrent is that 95 per cent of the veterinary students are female, which Groenheide said was great, but many males are dropping out of veterinary programs and they have the physical strength to handle larger livestock.

Other business

In the volunteer fire department, Gillies Fire Chief Scott Hole announced that the department added another firefighter/first responder to the roster and had concerns with no ambulances coming out or being severely delayed when calls came in.

“Part of the problem is that people learned how to get an ambulance to them,” Hole said. “You say a few magic words like ‘difficulty breathing’ and bang, you’re going to get (classified as an urgent call) and an available ambulance that comes to you or it’s rerouted from a lower priority call.

“(A new triaging call-taking system being rolled out in Kenora and Fort Frances in the summer as well as Gillies early next year) will better weed out the calls that don’t medically require us for emergency reaction.”

Council learned Monday that many resumes for the weed inspector position have already trickled in, an audit prior to the budget being released will take place in the next few weeks and that the township has a few different options to deal with their grader repairs.

By John Nagy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 28, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   The Chronicle-Journal   Thunder Bay, Ontario
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