Most of the data we will present is contained in the database of the CVMA (Canadian Veterinary Medical Association) and will serve as an indicator for people to acknowledge the possibilities and benefits of being a vet professional in Canada. The data is yearly updated and the one presented is from 2017.
In the far north of the American continent, there is approximate of 14.300 veterinarians working both with livestock, wildlife and companion animals for the major part. Currently, in Canada, the majority of veterinarians are female, 8.018 vets to be exact, and the male veterinarians count 6.327. Like almost everywhere, the percentage favoring the female professionals increases yearly and constantly. The number of private veterinary practices in Canada is 3.240.
Out of 10 Canadian provinces, most of the veterinarians work in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, numbers suitable to the human population in the areas, while at the bottom of the list are the territories (Northwest, Yukon, Nunavut), Newfoundland and Labrador, and New Brunswick.
The approximate number of pets living in Canada is more than 12 million, 8.8 million dogs and 7.6 million cats. Canadian farmers take care of approximately 12 million cattle, 13.7 million hogs and 814.000 sheep. The sheep and cattle population follows a negative trend of 1% annual decrease, and hog population tends to increase.
The encouraging fact is that the pet population in Canada holds a constant positive growth trend. This is mostly a reflection of the increased social relationship humans share with companion animals and the use of trained working animals for people with special needs.
The population of companion animals in Canada has increased by about 10% in the last decade. The domestic cat population is growing faster than dog population and soon enough cats will be the number one pets in the country. At the moment, around 40% of households in Canada own at least one dog and 37% percent take care of at least one cat.
Veterinary legislation in Canada
To be a doctor of animal health in Canada you need to have trained at a University for at least six years in order to earn the DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) degree and furthermore get licensed so that you can provide medical care for animals.
Licensed veterinarians in Canada besides caring and treating sick animals are able to work in various fields such as animal welfare, environmental protection, government, industry, research, teaching, public health, food safety, shelter medicine etc.
Becoming a licensed veterinarian in Canada means that you successfully passed the NAVLE (North American Veterinary Licensing Exam). Depending on territory or province there may be some additional requirements as well. Provincial licensing bodies need to be contacted when students that finished school outside Canada are planning to work and obtain a license here. This means that you will be put through a process of degree equivalency and if your school is non-accredited you will need to get a CQ (Certificate of Qualification) by passing the National Examining Board examination.
Besides North America, the NAVLE is offered at some Prometric centers overseas in Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
Veterinary Schools in Canada
At the moment, there are 5 veterinary schools in Canada offering the DVM degree. Admission priorities apply for the residents of the region where the college is situated.
The accredited veterinary schools in Canada include:
- The Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC) – University of Prince Edward Island; Charlottetown, PEI
- Faculté De Médicine Vétérinaire (FVM) – Université de Montréal; St-Hyacinthe, QC
- The Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) – University of Guelph, Ontario
- The Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) – University of Saskatchewan; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
- University of Calgary – Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) – Calgary, Alberta
Students interested in becoming DVM in the future should consider taking high school level courses in science such as chemistry, biology, and physics. Discussing this with a guidance counselor that is well informed will help them build a solid foundation on which the continuous education can rest. Some other subjects to be considered are social sciences and mathematics. Those individuals that plan to work in a private clinic upon graduation will find great use in taking management, entrepreneurship and business administration courses.
The number of students in the veterinary schools in Canada is limited. Approximately 350 new veterinarians graduate each year. Therefore, good grades and useful courses are recommended prior to the admission, as well as voluntary experience or employment with a certified veterinarian.
As we said before, obtaining the DVM degree in Canada requires a minimum of 6 years of university education. Usually, that consists of two years of pre-vet study which can be done at a regular university and four years of studying courses at one of the five vet colleges in the country.
The leading veterinary organization in Canada representing Canadian veterinarians around the world is the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA). The voice of the profession advocates animal welfare, optimal care for animals and optimal care for the people and the environment.
Veterinary professionals and students can become members of the organization, enjoy the benefits the membership offers and fight together for the three strategic priorities: leadership on national veterinary issues, animal welfare advocacy and a successful career along with a balanced life.
The labor market in Canada is in constant demand of new veterinarians and veterinary technicians which makes it even easier for overseas graduates to find work and start a new life right here.
Most of the veterinarians in Canada, exactly 75% percent of them work in private practices. This includes working with small animals, large animals or mixed animal species. Some private practices are specialized in dealing with one animal species or discipline. The most popular field is companion (small) animal medicine.
The government employs approximately 10% of veterinarians in Canada. They have an important role in protecting human health through the control of contagious diseases and meat inspection.
6% of veterinarians in Canada hold working positions in the veterinary industry. This is the field where your marketing, planning and communication skills need to glow. Some of the occupations are sales representatives that are frequently traveling, management vets and technical research vets.
5% are enrolled in teaching and research, primarily in one of the five Veterinary Schools in Canada or in colleges and universities that offer veterinary technician programs. The requirements for becoming a professor in a Canadian veterinary college is that you must hold a master’s degree, clinical specialty (board certified) and in some cases a Ph.D. Besides teaching and mentoring students, these vets have other responsibilities such as sitting on committees, attending important meetings and programming professional development.
The rest 4% are in other related veterinary fields.
Employment options for new graduates
The high demand for veterinarians in Canada is proven by the fact that 98% of new graduates almost instantly find a job in the veterinary field. The rest don’t start working immediately because they feel like taking a break or continuing their education. The following data is based on 2016 survey of new graduates.
More than 80% of students secure their working positions before graduation using methods like dropping off resumes, colleague’s recommendation, internships etc. The majority of new veterinarians are very satisfied (39%) or satisfied (46%) with their current positions.
Percentage of time spent treating certain species indicates that most popular among animals in Canada are dogs (47.5%) and feline (39.5%). Horses and other equines scored 14.5% and most popular among farm animals are cattle (16%). It’s least likely that you will work with poultry (1%) and small ruminants (1.5%).
Highest annual median income for new veterinarians by province is reported in Newfoundland and Labrador ($142.000) and British Columbia ($73.375). Prince Edward Island is at the bottom of the table ($24.000), followed by Quebec ($47.000) and New Brunswick ($55.000).
Let’s see what are the professional benefits besides the regular salary that vets are able to enjoy once employed. Most benefits are regarding paying the licensing fees by the employer as well as payment for the continuing education fees. Both were reported by approximately 80% of new graduates.
More than half of them have health insurance, dental insurance, and malpractice insurance. It’s a 50:50 chance that you will get a clothing allowance, after-hours premiums and continuing education travel expenses being paid by the employer.
Least frequent benefits that employers offer are meal allowance, transportation expenses or vehicle, pension, cell phone, disability insurance, profit sharing and life insurance.
Just to conclude, Canada is a country with a lot of possibilities for veterinarians that want to pursue excellent careers in veterinary medicine.
If you are interested in pursuing Veterinary Medicine as your future profession, read the article Veterinary medicine in the USA and learn more about the education possibilities in the USA.