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College Council updates policy on after-hours care services

July 26, 2019

The Council of the College of Veterinarians of Ontario (College) has expanded the options for how veterinarians can deliver after hours care services.

“Veterinarians are expected to provide after-hours care services to animals they have recently treated or treat regularly – this is an aspect of the veterinarian-client-patient relationship,” said Dr. Patricia Lechten, President of the College. “Council revised its policy in an effort to find a balance among legislative requirements, animal needs, client expectations and the health of veterinarians.”

Through the updated policy, veterinarians have options for deciding how to best deliver after hours care, including the use of on-call services by themselves or with neighbouring facilities, the use of in-house teletriage, referrals to a 24/7 facility, referrals to an accredited teletriage service, and referrals to an emergency clinic that is open on weekends. A veterinarian may also use a combination of any of these options. The revised policy also provides an understanding that veterinarians occasionally have unforeseen circumstances, such as illness or severe weather, that affect their ability to provide services.

“It’s important for clients to speak to their veterinarian about how they provide after-hours care services,” said Dr. Lechten.

The updated policy document is available on the College website at

The College’s job as the veterinary regulator is to understand current and emerging risks in veterinary practice and implement strategies to protect the public and their animals from potential harm. The public trusts the College to ensure safety and quality in the veterinary services they seek.

As a regulated profession, the College’s governing Council is comprised of 13 elected veterinarians and five public members, appointed by the provincial government.  Supporting the work of Council are five Statutory and two Standing Committees, with membership composed of veterinarians and public members.