Why your local vet clinic is likely owned by an international corporation | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

Would you like to subscribe to our newsletter?

Kamloops News

Why your local vet clinic is likely owned by an international corporation

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dr. Adrian Helmers opened her own veterinary practice in Kamloops in an effort to escape growing corporate ownership in the industry.

Now, Neighbourhood Veterinary Hospital may be one of the last privately-owned clinics in Kamloops after international conglomerates have bought up hundreds across the country over the last decade, Dr. Helmers said.

"I guess you could say I'm anti-corporation," she said.

She opened the clinic with Dr. Megan Broschak in October 2020, now both splitting time as veterinarians and business owners. The benefit, Dr. Helmers said, is that they can determine for themselves what medicines they use, what machines they use and what medical practices they have found work best.

READ MORE: Delivery apps skip the labour laws in B.C. by paying less than minimum wage

As owners, they also determine pricing and decide on benefits and salary for their staff, but in a corporate setting, Dr. Helmers said that freedom doesn't exist.

"Sometime it becomes about hitting targets, and for me that is not what medicine is about. Now I have to make this corporation happy or I might get dinged on my salary," Dr. Helmers said.

One of the big players in the industry is VetStrategy, which is under the umbrella of IVC Evidensia. More than 2,300 clinics in 19 countries are within the conglomerate. Another is U.S. company National Veterinary Associates, or NVA, which owns hundreds of clinics across the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, according to its website.

"I think it catches people by surprise that there's corporate involvement in medicine," Dr. Helmers said. She believes more than half of clinics in the Thompson-Okanagan and the Lower Mainland are under corporate ownership.

She's had new clients come to her clinic after learning of other practices that were not owned locally, but by giant conglomerates. She also recalled staffing issues where the rigidity of these large companies has led to pay cuts, along with certain medicines favoured because they're made by another company under the same umbrella.

READ MORE: Considerable flood damage to B.C. Housing-owned Kamloops motel delays repairs

While a doctor may not have the freedom to choose medications or machines in the practice under corporate ownership, the buy-outs may be a welcome move for both young veterinarians and those closer to retirement that may have no prospects to take over a practice.

To Dr. Helmers, a potential lack of interest from younger veterinarians to take over established clinics and take on the responsibility of a business owner is likely a major factor in the monopolization of the industry.

Veterinarians experience high rates of stress, and combining that with B.C.'s shortage of vets and a surge in pet ownership over the last two years, Dr. Helmers said some welcome the thought of a large company taking over the business side of a practice.

"With the huge shortage of veterinarians across North America, it's almost as if there isn't another option," she said. "It really would make things easier having a big parent company take over for you. We both have been working seven-days-a-week over the last two years."

READ MORE: Kelowna gas station shoots past $2 per litre mark as prices rise

In West Kelowna, Dr. Moshe Oz welcomes corporate ownership and has found partnering with NVA to be a blessing for Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital.

"We have a billion-dollar company behind us and for you as a client, it doesn't seem like an advantage, but for me it's huge," Dr. Oz said.

Before partnering with the corporate giant, he said he had worked 15 years non-stop and rarely took vacations. With the business side of the practice taken care of, he can focus on medicine and more of a work-life balance.

"There are a few companies out there, but NVA is very silent. They're just in the books and they take care of the management part," he said. "They come with solutions. Nobody's perfect, but you use their infrastructure to make things better."

At Rose Valley, Dr. Oz said he has control over medicines and machines that he uses in the clinic, while the giant company backing him supplies benefits to both him and his employees.

For example, NVA is sending a veterinarian from Ontario to step in for him as he takes a holiday this Spring, he said.

"When you go with big corporation, you get medical benefits (for staff) and... pensions. Those things, we as a small business, wouldn't be able to offer," Dr. Oz said.

He noted, however, that NVA's backseat approach at Rose Valley may not be true for all the corporate players in the industry.

"There are some companies that are more restrictive and take control of everything," he said.

In his mind, however, it's no different than grocery store monopolies or corporate buy-outs in dentistry. Dr. Oz said it's just part of a capitalist system, and it can have its benefits.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above. 

News from © iNFOnews, 2022

  • Popular vernon News
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile