(Left to right) John Bowman, North Island president, Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, Courtenay Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard and Jane Murphy, previous CEO of St. Joseph’s Hospital and current chair of the NIC Board of Directors officially cut a ribbon Monday morning to mark the official investment by the provincial government for NIC to renovate, lease and equip space at the former hospital. Photo by Erin Haluschak

Sixty seats added to North Island College health-care assistant program

Additions more than double the seats for health-care assistants at NIC

  • Feb. 3, 2020 1:30 p.m.

More students in the Comox Valley, on the West Coast and north Island will now have access to health-care assistant education programs.

This increase in these high-demand programs is thanks to a seat expansion and new state-of-the-art learning space at North Island College (NIC).

“Investing in more student spaces for in-demand health-care assistant programs, like the one at North Island College, means we are creating better access to education for students while ensuring British Columbians will have the top-quality health care they need for generations to come,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “We need people on the Island to have access to local education and training opportunities so they can offer much-needed supports closer to home.”

More than $1 million in one-time funding enabled the college to lease and renovate the first floor of the former St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Comox. Seats at the college will be added so six additional health-care assistant certificate cohorts can run through 2019 and 2020.

“We’re so thankful to the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training for providing the funding for NIC to renovate, lease and equip the space at St. Joe’s,” said John Bowman, NIC president. “We’re now able to meet increasing demand for high-enrolment programs while we seek more permanent solutions to deal with space constraints at our Comox Valley campus.”

One-time program funding of $494,000 was provided to NIC to create 60 new seats in one-time health-care assistant programming and health-care assistant prerequisite programming. These NIC programs provide learning and training opportunities close to home for students in the Comox Valley at St. Joseph’s, as well as Campbell River, Port Hardy and the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The 60 new seats are in addition to the existing 40 seats the college already has for health-care assistants.

“Increasing the number of health-care assistants in B.C. is a part of government’s commitment to strengthen the staff available to provide services for seniors to ensure they can receive the care they need and deserve,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Health-care assistants have one of the most important jobs of making daily life better for seniors by providing compassionate personal care and social interaction, which are essential to healthy aging.”

In September of 2019, a capital investment of $600,000 went to renovate this new space and to purchase the equipment that will help students be industry-ready.

The college signed a four-year lease for the former surgical daycare space on the first floor of the former St. Joseph’s General Hospital, which has been renovated to include two classrooms, study areas, meeting rooms and teaching labs.

NIC’s health-care assistant students began their program in August 2019. An evening/weekend program started in November, and a second daytime program started in January 2020 at St. Joseph’s.

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Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training officially marks the official investment by the provincial government for NIC to renovate, lease and equip space at the former hospital Monday morning. Photo by Erin Haluschak

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