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Veterinary wellness and the role of the regulator

January 25, 2022

At a recent meeting, the Council of the College of Veterinarians of Ontario committed to expanding its visibility in raising awareness of the importance of mental health in the veterinary profession.

“Our Council is committed to supporting the wellness of the profession. We have been attentive to the mental health of veterinarians for several years, but it’s important for Council’s action in this area to be consistent with our role as the regulator,” said Dr. Lorie Gold, President of the College. 

The College’s Quality Assurance Committee has been discussing the College’s role in support of the wellness of the profession. Council approved the Committee’s recommendations which will see the College increasing the visibility of its work in mental health, promoting access to training and skills development in wellness, and collaborating with the College’s partners to promote an integrated approach to health and wellness for the veterinary profession.

“We look forward to developing initiatives which add to the College’s current resources to improve the wellbeing of the profession,” said Dr. Gold. The College currently partners with Homewood Health to help veterinarians access services to support their health, wellbeing and resilience. Further, recognizing the emotional toll that accompanies its investigations and hearings process, the Council has embraced a just culture approach which acknowledges human error and focuses on at risk and reckless behaviour. As well, the College’s new Peer Advisory Conversation includes a conversation about wellness.

“The wellness of our profession is critical and one that has been impacted by the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and shortage of veterinary professionals across the province. This situation is not unique to Ontario as veterinary regulators around the world are engaged in discussions concerning wellness,” said Dr. Gold. 

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 six Statutory Committees, with membership composed of veterinarians and public members. The College licenses approximately 5,200 veterinarians and accredits over 2,300 facilities in Ontario.