Veterinary assistance program ‘back to normal’

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MANITOULIN—Late on the evening of July 25, after the Recorder press deadline had passed for last week’s edition, some good news for farmers came in the form of the fact that the province has reinstated the valuable Veterinary Assistance Program.

“The Veterinary Assistance Program has been reinstated and there should be normality in the next week,” Charles Regele, chair of the Northern Producer Animal Health Network, told the Recorder. “There’s been a  little pressure put on the government from our end and bringing forward how important it is to the North and farmers that this program be reinstated.”

The reinstatement of the program “is what happens when the province works together,” said Mr. Regele. “We have a great group of individuals in the North, people like Ernie Hardeman, MPP John Vanthof, the Ministry of Environment Northern Development of Mines minister who brought this about.”

Marc Hudon of the Ministry of the Environment Northern Development and Mines confirmed that the program has been reinstated. “This is the story on the Veterinary Assistance Program. This program has been around for a long time and, as you know, recently we had a change in the (Ontario) government. With this comes transition of new MPPs, ministers and staff people. But I can tell you there was no suspension, we never ended the program.”

As was reported in last week’s Recorder, the Manitoulin Municipal Association (MMA) passed a motion calling on the province to reinstate the provincial funding for the Veterinary Assistance Program, as concerns had been raised that the suspension of the funding program would affect Northern Ontario producers, farmers and veterinarians in rural areas such as Manitoulin Island.

Mr. Regele,  a  dairy farmer from Earlton, explained the program has been in place since the 1940s and is designed to (financially) assist veterinarians in rural and Northern Ontario in travelling from farm to farm to take care of a farmer’s animals.

Mr. Regele added, “this has all been resolved. We should see everything back to normal (this) week. This is all in progress.”