Toronto Humane Society Leads the Way in Canada’s First-Ever National Analysis of Veterinary Care Access

| February 2, 2024

In a groundbreaking stride for veterinary medicine in Canada, Phil Nichols, RVT, CAWA, CEO at Toronto Humane Society, has recently published the nation’s first-ever comprehensive analysis of access to veterinary care. The study, titled “Trends in companion animal access to veterinary care in Canada, 2007 to 2020,” delves into existing data from various sources over the thirteen-year period, shedding light on crucial trends and challenges within the industry. 

Key Findings

Phil Nichols’ study discovered several key findings that offer valuable insights into the state of veterinary care across Canada. Some of the notable discoveries include: 

  • Unmet Pet Healthcare Needs: A substantial number of pets did not receive veterinary care annually. While the study couldn’t pinpoint the reasons behind this trend, it highlights an area of concern that warrants further investigation. 
  • Decrease in Clients per Veterinarian: The number of clients per veterinarian saw a 30% decrease from 2007 to 2020, signaling potential shifts in the dynamics of veterinarian-client relationships. 
  • Surge in Veterinary Costs: Veterinary costs witnessed a significant increase, surpassing the inflation rate. This finding prompts a closer examination of the economic factors impacting access to veterinary care. 
  • Relative Shortage in Veterinarians: While there isn’t an absolute shortage in the number of veterinarians, the study suggests a relative shortage, possibly due to increased time spent per animal and shorter working hours on average. 

The study’s conclusion emphasizes the need to encourage, regulate, and support accessible care-provision models that can coexist with traditional models. This call to action underscores the importance of fostering diverse approaches to veterinary care to meet the evolving needs of pet owners and their beloved animals. 

This groundbreaking national analysis on Canadian veterinary care was a collaborative effort by Toronto Humane Society’s team, with invaluable support from Dr. Karen Ward, Chief Veterinary Officer; Dr. Linda Jacobson, Senior Manager of Shelter Medicine Advancement; and Kysten J Janke, Research Assistant. 

The study stands as a pivotal milestone in Canadian veterinary care, shedding light on critical issues and providing a foundation for future discussions and initiatives. As Toronto Humane Society takes a leadership role in this endeavor, the hope is that these findings will spark collaborative efforts across the industry to ensure accessible, high-quality veterinary care for all companion animals across the nation.