Quebec woman raises alarm after region's only horse vet forced out over language law

May 12, 2022

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Horse owners in a part of western Quebec say the province's language laws are forcing them to lose their only veterinarian at a time when there's already a critical shortage of animal doctors.

Local farmer Chantal Chrétien said she learned in late April that her vet, Melissa Jowett, would have to stop treating her two horses at her farm in Quyon, Que., because her French isn't strong enough to pass the language test required to get a permanent licence.

Chrétien said that with Jowett gone, the closest vet who specializes in horses is about a two-hour drive away — which could potentially put the welfare of animals at risk.

"I’m a good advocate for French. I think there’s a good base in that (language) law," she said in a phone interview. "But when the population and the animals need care, we don’t care which language is spoken."

Chrétien said more than half of residents in the Pontiac region where she lives are native English speakers, and the rest are mostly bilingual. She said Jowett's language skills have never posed a problem.

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