Food Animal Veterinary Services in Underserved Areas of Rural Ontario

Initiated in Fall 2020, with funding from OMAFRA Special Initiatives program, Drs. Sara Epp, David Kelton, and Steven Roche, along with a diverse team of industry stakeholders commenced a project aimed at examining the needs, capacity, and barriers to accessing food animal veterinary services in underserved areas of rural Ontario. 

The purpose of this project was to support the livestock and veterinary sectors, determine social and economic barriers to growth amongst veterinary practices, review current programs and identify gaps, and assess the current and future need for veterinarians in the future. Our project involved several phases, including:

  1. Literature review: A review of the current evidence for implementing academic, government, and veterinary strategies for overcoming current barriers.
  2. Mapping and identifying underserved areas: Using ArcGIS software, veterinary services areas and regional farm densities were mapped to identify gaps in service areas.
  3. Interviews: Interviews were conducted with stakeholders to understand past programs as well as current needs. From this, two surveys were developed for veterinarians and producers.
  4. Focus groups: Current and prospective veterinary students from the Ontario Veterinary College were asked to provide feedback on what might attract them to underserved areas.

The results of this work are presented in two complementary documents, the first of which offers a summary of each phase of work:

Examining Need, Capacity, and Barriers to Veterinary Access in ON

The second document presents an in-depth summary of our findings when reviewing the current evidence for addressing this challenge in other jurisdictions:

Jurisdictional Scan on Veterinary Access

Please contact Dr. Steven Roche ( for any additional questions, comments, or information requests.



Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs

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