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This article was published 11/2/2019 (478 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Pre-veterinary medical students at Brandon University have started a petition to try to convince the province to not cut funding for seats to the only vet college they are able to attend.
"It’s discouraging for the students," Catherine Beaupre, vice-president of the Western Manitoba Pre-Veterinary Medical Association (WMPVMA), said Sunday.
"It makes me, honestly, think about applying to different professions," said Beaupre, who has dreamed of being a veterinarian since she was five years old.
Realizing that dream has proved to be an uphill battle.
Beaupre said she has applied twice — and been rejected twice — to the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, the only college to which Manitoba students can apply.
The province is considering funding only 10 seats to attend the college, down from 15.
"I work at a vet clinic, right now," said Beaupre, 23. "It’s not something I’m going to give up on very easily."
Beaupre is finishing a bachelor of science degree this year and has reapplied to the college.
She won’t know if she will get an interview until April or May.
It takes three years at BU to complete the prerequisite courses in pre-veterinary medicine.
"My grades are pretty darn good," she said. "It’s very competitive, and to get an interview it’s really the best of the best."
Only 26 per cent of Manitobans who applied for the 2018-19 year at the Saskatchewan college were accepted into the program.
There are currently 25 pre-veterinary students at BU, seven of whom are set to finish their courses this year.
"It’s very competitive to get in, and then taking away those five seats ... are very much going to affect our chances of getting in," said association president Paige Schmitz, who has completed two years of the three-year course schedule.
The association has sent letters to provincial politicians and others making their case, and started an online petition through change.org.
As of Sunday, more than 115 people had signed the petition that was posted late last week.
"Everybody needs their vets, so I am not surprised by people being supportive of that," Schmitz said.
They hope to collect as many names as possible to present to Premier Brian Pallister before the 2019 provincial budget is released March 7.
Douglas Freeman, dean of the veterinary medicine college, told the Winnipeg Free Press in January the school has been in discussions with government officials in Manitoba, British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan for about two years, focusing on a new funding arrangement. The current agreement expires after the 2019-20 academic year.
Since 1963, the four western provinces have each contributed millions to WCVM, guaranteeing that some students from their regions are accepted into the competitive veterinary program.
Manitoba contributes $6 million annually, but is considering clawing back funding that will reduce its numbers, Freeman said.
The petition can be found at bit.ly/2WUBT8t.
» firstname.lastname@example.org, with files from the Winnipeg Free Press
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