NEWS

Petition launched to "Get 2 Vets into NZ per week"

Wednesday 22 September 2021, 12:05PM
By Halo Biz
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As New Zealand’s dire shortage of veterinarians continues to negatively impact both human and animal welfare, a petition has been launched urging the Government to allocate just two MIQ spaces per week so we can Get 2 Vets into NZ per week.

“New Zealand desperately needs veterinarians from overseas to counter our shortage here, and the single measure that would make the biggest difference is for the two opposing government departments currently working against each together to both get on the same page to make this happen” says Julie South, spokesperson for the Get 2 Vets into NZ campaign. 

“Immigration New Zealand allocated 50 visas in June for qualifying vets to work here but MBIE won’t allocate just two MIQ spaces per week for the vets to enter.  While these two government departments continue to work against each other, animal and human welfare is suffering unnecessarily.

“All I’m asking for is just two MIQ spaces per week to be allocated to these vets” says South.  “If they’re not used by the vets each week, they can be returned back into the MIQ pool.

“Current veterinary staffing shortages are at extreme levels and are dire for animals, for people and for our agricultural sector.

“Animal welfare is at risk – from the wellbeing of your cat or dog at home through to the health of our production animals like dairy cows, sheep and horses. They are also placing an enormous strain on the exhausted and stressed vets we have at a time when they are more important than ever.

“Through the strong advocacy of the New Zealand Veterinary Association, Immigration New Zealand has now made it possible for visas to be issued to registered veterinarians but MBIE’s apparent refusal to allocate just two spaces per week is compromising animal and human welfare.

“Immigration New Zealand signed off on processes to enable 50 vets to come to NZ back in June but we’ll be lucky if any of them arrive this year because MBIE won’t free up just two MIQ spaces per week.  

“I struggle to understand why two government departments won’t work together on this – why won’t MBIE support INZ? 

“All I’m asking for is just two MIQ spaces per week – and if they’re not used by vets MBIE can return them to the MIQ system”  

“I’m urging New Zealand’s vets, and everyone who cares about the wellbeing of their family pet and the people who look after them, to sign my petition to let the Government know that we need more overseas vets to be able to work here urgently.”

 

You can sign the petition here:

https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/petitions/document/PET_115591/petition-of-julie-south-allocate-two-miq-spaces-per-week

 

Signatures close on 31 October 2021.

 

Why is it crucial that MIQ spaces are allocated to vets and what effect will that have?

It will mean that vet clinics will be able to operate a near-full capacity and give the overworked and burnt-out vets who haven’t had a break for over 18 months some respite:

  • Vets who have returned to work straight after cancer or other surgery will be able to take some time off for recovery
  • Clinics that have temporarily closed because of lack of staff will be able to reopen and offer veterinary care to their communities
  • Clinics that haven’t been able to provide their community with essential after-hours and emergency services will be able to resume
  • Clinics will be able to resume timely treatment of companion animals without fear of compromising animal welfare.

 

Didn’t Immigration New Zealand sign off in June to allow 50 vets into New Zealand?

Yes – it did but MBIE won’t play ball and allocate MIQ spaces to allow them into New Zealand.    The 50 vets aren’t all going to arrive into NZ at the same time.   When South spoke to the New Zealand Veterinary Association about the 30 large animal vets allocated by INZ last year, the vets arrive in NZ at about two per week. 

 

Why do we need overseas vets and why aren’t there enough New Zealand vets available to fill roles?

  • Approx. 100 vets graduate from Massey each year – it’s not enough to meet the current shortfall
  • it takes approx. 3 years before a veterinarian has the skills necessary to be able to work in a clinic sole charge (without another vet supervising them)
  • Even if Massey doubled its intake in 2022 (which won’t happen), we’re not going to see any benefit of that for another 8 years or so (5 year degree + 3 years’ experience)
  • Approx 800 registered veterinarians in NZ are currently overseas qualified – this is still not enough
  • Companion animal (dogs, cats, pets) ownership in NZ has grown at never-seen-before levels since Lockdown last year:
  • (In 2019) NZ is second highest owners of companion animals worldwide (63%) to US (67%)
  • Pets (like humans) are living longer because of advances in healthcare = more visits to the vet over their lifetime.
  • Each year the veterinary sector relies on a number of overseas workers to complement New Zealand vets.

Since COVID-19 border restrictions came into place, these overseas veterinarians have not arrived at their usual rate but companion animal ownership is growing out of proportion.

New Zealand can’t produce enough vets overnight to ease the shortage and, like in any other sector, overseas vets have experience, qualifications and specialised expertise that recent graduates in New Zealand understandably cannot match.

For more information please contact Julie South on 027 282 4155 or julie.south@xtra.co.nz