Beefing up education

By Christie Tucker

Most people think of Alberta as the beef capital of Canada, but a recent cash contribution by Alberta Learning eastward is showing Albertans where the beef really is.

The provincial government is making one-time contribution of $1.5 million to the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. The money will make up half of a $3 million new chair in Beef Cattle Health Management at the school.

The contribution is part of an interprovincial agreement through which Alberta pays a portion of the College’s annual costs, which added up to $1.9 million in 2000/2001.

"We understand the importance of the cattle industry to western Canada’s economy," said Alberta Learning spokesman Randy Kilburn. The WCVM is Canada’s only veterinary college located in the west, the others located in Quebec, Ontario and the Maritimes. Kilburn said that of the college’s 280 students, 80 are from Alberta.

"Most Albertan veterinary students go there to complete their studies," he said. "Why Alberta doesn’t have a college like this is a question for the U of A."

Kilburn says the new chair will help to strengthen the scope on veterinary research, as well as providing students with more up-to-date information and creating a pool of experienced veterinarians.

Farmers in Canada produce roughly 1.3 billion pounds of beef per year, and contribute almost $25 billion to the Canadian economy through beef production. Programs like the beef cattle health management program in Saskatchewan are used to "ensure the production of beef is efficient, humane, economical and high quality," according to Alberta Learning.

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