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Northern students to get more health-care education opportunities

Students in British Columbia’s North will have more opportunities to train for careers in health care or upgrade their skills, thanks to additional funding for post-secondary education and training for health professionals.

The College of New Caledonia received $180,000 for a health-care assistant program at the Quesnel campus. At Coast Mountain College, $312,952 will allow high school students to explore a career in health care while receiving credit toward graduation and students in Kitimat will be able to enrol in a health-care assistant program that is culturally relevant.

“For years, British Columbians have been calling for more trained health professionals in their communities,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “We heard that call to action and we’re investing in valuable, in-demand training in every corner of the province so that students preparing for careers in health care, or health professionals upgrading their skills, are able to provide quality health care when and where it is needed. It is because of the work of these unsung heroes in health care that we are at a place to safely build back the best B.C.”

Government is investing in programs throughout B.C, including training for health-care assistants, anesthesia assistants, mental health and community support workers and programs for nurses. The funding also enables advanced training for nurses and clinical refreshers and fast-track training for respiratory therapists who care for critically ill patients.

“We are committed to training, recruiting and hiring a new generation of health-care professionals at all levels, including respiratory therapists and critical care nurses, who are vital members of the health-care team,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Respiratory therapists and nurses working with patients during the COVID-19 pandemic have a high-risk role because of their hands-on work treating patients with breathing difficulties and I thank them for all they do.”

The two northern colleges are among nine post-secondary institutions throughout B.C. that received more than $4.4 million for a variety of health profession-related education and training programs this year.

Other B.C. post-secondary institutions that also received extra funding to support health-related programs include:

  • British Columbia Institute of Technology
  • Camosun College
  • Coast Mountain College
  • College of New Caledonia
  • Nicola Valley Institute of Technology
  • North Island College
  • Vancouver Community College

This funding is in addition to the new investments in health training in northern B.C. since 2017. It includes the first ever northern baccalaureate nursing program in Fort St. John, the northern diagnostic medical sonography program at College of New Caledonia, and expanded occupational and physical therapy at the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George.


Jennifer Rice, MLA for North Coast

“Health-care professionals provide essential services that support quality health care in our northern communities. By providing training for people close to where they live, we are helping to ensure that British Columbians living in the North will have access to health care where and when they need it.”

Dennis Johnson, president and CEO, College of New Caledonia

“This investment in health education in Quesnel is an incredible opportunity. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, we have come to recognize the critical role of health-care assistants. We’re grateful to help students gain the skills they need to provide high-quality care to help ensure that the vital work of the health-care system can continue.”

Justin Kohlman, president, Coast Mountain College

“Giving youth, Indigenous students and students in remote locations access to this type of programming is important. We are pleased to offer this  training in our region where we know the need for health-care assistants is high and access to culturally relevant health care is valued.”

A backgrounder follows.

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