THUNDER BAY – Lakehead University is seeking approval to train veterinarians in Thunder Bay as part of a partnership with the University of Guelph.
Lakehead president Moira McPherson said the plan would see students split study time between the two cities over the course of a joint four-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.
“Over the past few months, we’ve been working with the University of Guelph to establish a partnership to co-deliver the [program] at Lakehead University, with a focus on recruiting local and Indigenous students.”
A proposal to offer the program still requires provincial approvals, she said.
“Right now, we’re early in the stages of advocacy. What we’d really like is to target fall 2024 for the first cohort at Lakehead University.”
The program would address what McPherson called an “expanding shortage” of veterinarians that's believed to have worsened as pet ownership increased during the pandemic.
The joint program would have a focus on rural and northern community practice, she added, with opportunities for placements in the north.
“Veterinary capacity is desperately needed in northern and rural communities, and this partnership would provide an opportunity for us to further attract and retain local talent in the north, for the north," she said.
Students would complete their first two years of study in Thunder Bay under the proposal, moving to Guelph for the final two years.
“The objective is of course that then they will return to the north to practice, because of our curriculum and our recruitment practices," McPherson said.
She made the remarks during an annual "state of the university" presentation to Thunder Bay's city council on Monday.
Mayor Bill Mauro expressed enthusiasm over the possibility, adding the city would gladly support the proposal in any way it could.
“I think many of us as councillors [have received] a lot of outreach from the community about veterinary capacity – certainly I know I have," he said.