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Ontario's Minister of Finance Fails to Recognize Veterinarians as Health Care Providers

Ontario's Minister of Finance Fails to Recognize Veterinarians as Health Care Providers

In the 2005 Budget, the Province announced that it would be enabling doctors and dentists to reduce the amount of tax they pay by allowing them to include family members as non-voting shareholders in their professional corporations. The legislation enabled the Ministry of Finance to extend the tax benefit to all regulated health professionals except veterinarians. Feeling confident that this oversight would be rectified in this year's Provincial Budget, Ontario veterinarians were severely let down.

"Every day, veterinarians are protecting Ontarians from animal-borne diseases such as mad cow disease and avian influenza. These are huge concerns for Ontarians, but the Province doesn't seem to recognize the role that veterinarians play in protecting both animal and human health," says Dr. Reg Reed, a mixed-animal practitioner from Mitchell, Ontario and President of the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA).

"The Province has budgeted for new meat inspectors, but it has obviously failed to realize the value in assisting veterinarians to prevent animals from becoming ill in the first place. The Province's money would be better spent preventing the spread of animal disease than identifying it at the slaughter house."

In addition to ensuring that animal-borne diseases are not spread to humans, Ontario veterinarians ensure that the meat, poultry and dairy products Ontarians consume are safe to eat, and that the livestock and poultry sector is protected from catastrophic disease outbreaks. Of course, veterinarians also provide health care for family pets, so they can in-turn provide health benefits to their owners. Through the OVMA, veterinarians also operate a number of programs to assist animal owners in need, including the Farley Foundation (assists low income seniors and persons with disabilities to access emergency veterinary care for their pets) and the SafePet program (provides temporary housing and care for pets belonging to women at risk of abuse entering women's shelters).

"The Province's money would be better spent preventing the spread of animal disease than identifying it at the slaughter house."

"Veterinarians work hard to protect Ontarians and have a positive influence on their communities," adds Dr. Reed. "But we need the government's support if we are to continue to be effective health care providers. With so many MPPs in all areas of the province supporting the inclusion of veterinarians in this taxation policy, we are struggling to understand why the Minister of Finance decided to exclude us yet again."

Founded in 1980, the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association represents more than 3,300 Ontario veterinarians in private practice, government, academia, industry and public service. Its mandate is to advance and promote excellence in the veterinary profession in Ontario, and contribute to the betterment of animal health and the protection of human health.

the Fish Site Editor

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