Monday, June 18, 2007

BC Indo-Canadian Vets Face Discrimination?

Is this 2007 or 1918? do you really believe the BCVMA would set a standard of 55 out of 60 on an English test if this wasn't about protectionism? This just another example of a so-called 'professionals' association acting like a bully union.

A dogfight between Indo-Canadian veterinarians and the organization that enforces standards of practice for all vets in British Columbia ended up on the steps of the legislature yesterday.

About 100 placard-carrying protesters who support the Indo-Canadian vets were in Victoria to try to get the government to listen to their complaints about the B.C. Veterinary Medical Association.

But Agriculture Minister Pat Bell said the two sides should work together to resolve their issues.

"I met with both sides a number of months ago, perhaps six or eight months ago, and encouraged them to get into a mediated process to try and find resolution to the dispute that they are in," he said.

A protest spokesman said the veterinary association is targeting the Indo-Canadian vets because they charge lower service fees than their counterparts.

Veterinarian Hakam Bhullar said the association is forcing new Indo-Canadian vets to pass unfair English exams. The Indo-Canadian vets practise primarily in suburban communities east of Vancouver where their clients are mostly Indo-Canadian.

Dr. Bhullar also accused the veterinary association of racism.

"We are trained veterinarians. We are fully licenced," he said. "We have our own practices. The fight started basically with the English exam. This is the only province, [and] the only profession in the world where they need a score of 55 out of 60."

Teachers, doctors and nurses require a 50 out of 60 score to pass the English exam in British Columbia, said Dr. Bhullar.

"They are targeting the new vets that come to this province," he said. "They are also targeting those vets who are low-cost, open late and more hours."

Dr. Bhullar, who said he's been a practising vet in British Columbia for at least 13 years, said he couldn't pass the current English exam, and "most of the Canadians, they cannot get that score."

He said he and the other Indo-Canadian vets have filed a human-rights complaint about the English standards.

But the president of the B.C. veterinary association said the majority the people who take the English exam have no trouble passing.

Andrew Forsyth said he didn't have immediate access to the exact numbers, but estimated more than 90 per cent of people pass the test.

He denied the organization is racist.

"That's ridiculous," said Mr. Forsyth. "The BCVMA is a multicultural organization. We have over 100 foreign-trained veterinarians. Our membership is about 1,100 strong."

He denied his organization is trying to run the Indo-Canadian vets out of business because they charge lower fees than other vets.

"The BCVMA generally has no concern about what veterinarians charge," Mr. Forsyth said.

"Our concern is standards and quality of practice. Our responsibility to the public is to ensure that the public receives competent and caring veterinary medicine."

Mr. Forsyth said he couldn't discuss disciplinary procedures involving veterinarians, saying they were private matters.

The organization plans to release an in-depth public statement about its position on veterinary care in British Columbia next week, he said.

Mr. Bell says the two sides are in the middle of a legal process to mediate their dispute and he's hopeful they can resolve their issues.

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