This regards the free spays, neuters and vaccinations organized last year by the mayor of Carmacks and the Canadian Animal Assistance Team.
Since that visit, we have been contacted many times by the mayor and other out-of-town clients, asking for free veterinary services in their communities as well.
This year free spays, neuters and vaccinations are also provided to our out-of-town clients by the government through the humane society, funded by a three-year program, given to one clinic.
When the humane society tendered this contract last year, it was simply to provide veterinary services to the animal shelter. But it was later expanded to include
free veterinary services to out-of-town clients.
Taxpayers’ money is being used in such a way that private-sector jobs are being destroyed.
In the last few months, we have been downsized our staff by five employees. Since 1994, when this clinic opened, and including 2008 and 2009, this is the first time that we been affected like this.
Now that we have survived the winter and the clinic is getting busy again, after advertising for the last month, we can’t find anyone trained and willing to move to the Yukon.
The federal government has cut search-and-rescue services and health benefits for veterans, extended our working age until 67 and made numerous layoffs because of the deficit. Yet the Yukon government finds extra funds to give away to free veterinary services.
Please note, this money is beyond what the government already gives the humane society to help pay for its daily operations, and those funds are not an issue here at all.
I am not sure how many of our local veterinarians will leave the Yukon, as it is impossible to compete against free services.
I don’t know who told the non-profit not to return. I spoke to one of the members very briefly, and I have suggested that Old Crow and Inuvik would be a better choice.
People in those communities truly need help because of the distance. Our population base is not very big, and we feel the impact when more than 70 surgeries and numerous vaccinations are done at no charge.
During the winter months, we slow down and look forward to summer to make up for it. We cannot let employees go during the winter months, as once they leave, it is difficult to bring them back to the Yukon, plus the housing shortage complicates things even further.
A clinic owner in Edmonton has a great difficulty finding veterinary staff and sometimes takes a year to find a veterinarian. Imagine how hard it is for us in the Yukon.
It remains a mystery why our local clinics have to go through the humane society, and why the government does not deal with the local clinics directly, when veterinary services are needed in our communities.
We have an ongoing, chronic problem with overpopulation and strays in our communities, and we would be available and willing to help. I would be more than happy to help put together a long-term solution that would be more cost effective as well.
Dr. Marina Alpeza
Copper Road Veterinary Clinic