The Montreal SPCA Calls for Easier Access to Veterinary Care

PRESS RELEASE – For immediate release

The Montreal SPCA Calls for Easier Access to Veterinary Care

Montréal, Thursday, May 23, 2024 – One in six animals are surrendered to the Montreal SPCA because their human companions can’t afford their animal’s veterinary care. This has been the main reason for surrenders at the shelter since the start of 2024. Families have run out of resources. Faced with the current crisis, the Montreal SPCA is asking Minister Sonia LeBel to take action during the updating of the Professional Code, to allow veterinarians working for non-profit organizations (NPOs) to offer services directly to the public.

An increase in surrenders due to lack of access to veterinary care

“In 2023, over 400 animals were entrusted to our shelter because their families could not afford the cost of veterinary care,” says Laurence Massé, Executive Director of the Montreal SPCA. “And more than 166 animals have already been abandoned for this reason in the first four months of 2024. It looks like it’s going to be a tough year. Every day, our teams are faced with heartbreaking situations in which families are forced to surrender their animals to make sure they receive care and often to save their lives.”

The Professional Code, which regulates the practice of several professions in Quebec and specifies their conditions of practice, currently prohibits veterinarians from offering services directly to the public through NPOs. This ban restricts access to veterinary care for many Quebecers, especially the most vulnerable.

Since 52% of Quebec families have at least one animal companion,¹ this situation affects a large segment of the population. The current economic climate, marked by inflation and the housing crisis, has exacerbated the problem.Families have to make difficult budget choices. This is not a phenomenon happening just on the margins, but a reality being seen by shelters across the province and even elsewhere in the country.

Changes to the Professional Code: another way to counter the current shortage of veterinarians

The Montreal SPCA is asking the government to amend the Professional Code to allow veterinarians working for NPOs to offer services directly to families who have limited financial resources. In addition to easing financial pressure on many Quebec households, this measure would alleviate the consequences of the current shortage of veterinary doctors. Professionals working in shelters could complement private clinics, which are currently forced to turn away new patients for lack of staff.

“For several years now, we’ve been calling for a revision of the Code to enable veterinarians working for NPOs like ours to provide directly to the public’s animals,” adds Laurence Massé. “The current updating of the Code is an opportunity to solve the problem at last.”

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Source: Montreal SPCA

About the Montreal SPCA
Founded in Montréal in 1869, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (now known simply as the Montreal SPCA) was the first animal welfare organization in Canada. The SPCA has come a long way since its foundation. It is now the largest animal welfare organization in Quebec, speaking on behalf of animals wherever there is ignorance, cruelty, exploitation or neglect.

Media information: Tök communications 514 247-0526
Élodie Létourneau-Venne, elodie@tokcommunications.ca
Marie-Hélène Avon, mariehelene@tokcommunications.ca

¹ Léger survey commissioned by the Association des médecins vétérinaires du Québec en pratique des petits animaux, 2023.

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