Original Published on Sep 06, 2022 at 18:56
By Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Government of Saskatchewan announced Tuesday that it is expanding eligibility for the Saskatchewan Loan Forgiveness for Veterinarians and Veterinary Technologists program.
Any Saskatchewan veterinary practice that offers veterinary services to livestock stakeholders from rural or remote communities is now eligible, which includes, but is not limited to, ambulatory service delivery.
“We recognize that the veterinarian shortages in rural Saskatchewan will take ongoing collaboration to resolve,” Agriculture Minister David Marit said in a release.
“The Government of Saskatchewan takes this issue seriously and is committed to continuing to find additional solutions.”
Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association Chair Arnold Balicki of Canwood said the industry faces a shortage of vets, which makes it difficult to expand their businesses. He welcomed any changes that will get more vets out working in rural areas.
“We had raised concerns with the government previously around the qualifying parameters for this program,” Balicki said. “We truly appreciate that they took our concerns to heart and made the necessary changes to allow clinics in larger centres such as Prince Albert, who also serve rural clients, to now qualify.”
This expansion is in addition to designated communities previously announced in 2021, and the service threshold continues to be a minimum of 400 hours of services over a twelve-month period.
Saskatchewan’s growing economy is fueling high demand for veterinary professionals working in our rural and remote communities. This program is intended to attract veterinary professionals to work in rural areas by forgiving a portion of their Saskatchewan Student Loan debt for up to five years to a maximum of $20,000.
“This expansion will ensure that veterinary professionals providing services to smaller communities are eligible for the program,” Advanced Education Minister Gord Wyant said.
“It is a positive step forward in addressing the need for veterinarians and veterinary technologists in rural and under-serviced communities in Saskatchewan.”
The Loan Forgiveness for Veterinarians and Veterinary Technologists program was announced in 2021 and began accepting applications on January 1, 2022.