The Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) at the University of Guelph is an economic engine, directly contributing more than $125 million to Ontario’s economy each year and generating 800 jobs annually, according to a new economic analysis by Deloitte LLP.

The global consulting firm reviewed the 152-year-old veterinary school as part of a process supporting reaccreditation. The report was officially released today during the opening of Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show.

The report said OVC provides the government with an excellent return on its investment, and contributes to the province and country in critical ways besides educating veterinarians.

“We’ve always known that the University of Guelph and Ontario Veterinary College contribute to the quality of life in our province, and this report shows just how significant an impact OVC has on Ontario’s economic vitality,” said U of G president Franco Vaccarino.

“It emphasizes the broad-based value OVC brings to the province and beyond, particularly in animal health and food production, food security and safety, emergency preparedness and infectious diseases.”

Almost one-third of veterinarians educated in Canada graduate from OVC, and the majority of them stay in Ontario. Private businesses established by these graduates have an estimated annual economic impact of $1.3 billion to the province, according to the report.

OVC-trained veterinarians also provide key support for Ontario’s meat, dairy, poultry and egg industries — a sector that is worth an estimated $20 billion annually, the report said. They also help ensure regulatory and protocol standards, safeguard against diseases and provide essential veterinary services.

“This report highlights the necessity and economic importance of Ontario having its own accredited veterinary school,” said OVC dean Elizabeth Stone.

“In addition to training veterinarians, OVC plays a critical role in developing and disseminating research to industry and is a vital link in the public health community, ensuring issues are tackled from both human and animal perspectives.”

The report analyzed OVC’s socio-economic contributions to Ontario from 2008 to 2013. During this period, the veterinary school and its graduates created more than 4,000 jobs in Ontario and generated more than $218 million in labour income, the report said.

Each year, OVC receives about $34.4 million in operating funding from the provincial government and generates an additional $29 million through research, hospital revenue, endowments and donations.

“Leveraging government funding from other revenue sources such as research contributes significantly to the total economic impact of the college on the province,” the report said.

“Without OVC, it’s doubtful that society’s need for veterinary services in the province could be met,” the report said. OVC is Ontario’s only veterinary school and one of five in Canada.

The report also highlights some of the many OVC activities that benefit Ontarians, including the following:

  • Monitoring, control and prevention of health threats such as E. coli, C. difficile, West Nile virus and H1N1;
  • Research on antimicrobial resistance that has contributed to national and international policy recommendations; and
  • Studies on animal diseases that are helping solve human health problems such as breast cancer, epilepsy and obesity.