Petition Launched To ‘Get Vets’ Into NZ
As New Zealand faces a dire shortage of veterinarians, a petition has been launched urging the Government to reclassify veterinarians as critical workers so we can Get Vets into NZ.
“New Zealand desperately needs veterinarians from overseas to counter our shortage here, and the single measure that would make the biggest difference is reclassifying vets as critical workers,” says Julie South, spokesperson for the Get Vets campaign.
“Designating vets as critical workers would enable veterinarians of all experience levels and all salary bands – not just those earning more than $106,080 as currently required – to work here.
“Current veterinary staffing shortages are at extreme levels and are dire for animals, for people and for our agricultural sector.
“They are putting animal welfare 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.
“Despite the strong advocacy of the New Zealand Veterinary Association, the Government has made the right noises, but its actions have yet to measure up and make any material difference.
“Its initial exception in September 2020 for 30 workers was limited to farm animal vets and we don’t know how many have even arrived.
“The Government’s pre-Christmas announcement only reconfirms its existing and public-stated policy: that only vets earning over $106,080 pa will be eligible for border exceptions.
“We desperately need the Government to reclassify veterinarians as critical workers so vets of all skill levels, salary rates, experience levels and disciplines can be eligible to apply to enter New Zealand.
“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 at getvets.nz and to let the Government know that we need more overseas vets to be able to work here urgently.”
Notes for editors:
A link to the parliamentary petition can be found at getvets.nz. Signatures close on 31 January 2021.
Why is it crucial that vets are classed as critical workers and what effect will that have?
It will mean that veterinarians of all levels of experience, pay brackets and hours worked per week, will be able to work in New Zealand:
- ‘locums’ (relieving veterinarians) – these are essential to cover sickness, illness, continued professional development absences and annual holidays of veterinarians. The current criteria excludes these veterinarians (hours worked + $/pa earned).
- those with fewer than 8-10 years’ experience (because of the current threshold of $106,080 pa).
- new graduates – straight from university.
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)
- so even if Massey doubled its intake in 2021 (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 is
- 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.
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.