Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for December 12, 2013

Funding infusion restores paramedic program

The primary care paramedic program at Yukon College will continue after all.

By Stephanie Waddell on December 12, 2013 at 4:39 pm

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Photo by Whitehorse Star

Community Services Minister Brad Cathers

The primary care paramedic program at Yukon College will continue after all.

The announcement was made Wednesday after the Yukon government offered $23,000 in support of the five-month program for its next intake in January.

The program is conducted in partnership with the Justice Institute of British Columbia.

It was cancelled when two of the nine students registered for December’s start dropped out after failing to complete the prerequisites for the program.

Without the full number of students paying the $11,500 in tuition fees, the money wasn’t there to run the program, said Dan Anton, who chairs the college’s school of continuing education and training.

As he noted, the program runs on a model where costs are recovered through tuition.

Losing just two students meant thousands of dollars – $23,000, to be exact – were lost for the program.

“Every registration was critical,” Anton said.

The college had to make a decision on how to proceed without the funds for the program.

So, in the days leading up to when the online portion of the course was to start in early December, the seven students who had met all the requirements and planned to spend the next five months in the intensive course learned it had been cancelled.

Wednesday’s announcement that the program would be reinstated thanks to funding from the government came as a “pleasant surprise” for Anton.

Students were very passionate about seeing it run in the territory, and the decision to cancel it was not well-received, Anton acknowledged.

After hearing yesterday’s announcement, he quickly made calls to the seven students who had been registered to share the news.

While he is still waiting to speak with a few who weren’t available Wednesday, he said those he talked to were pleased to learn the program will be offered in Whitehorse.

“They’re all excited,” he said, though he conceded that some may have made other plans in light of the cancellation.

One student, who asked not to be named, told the Star he had arranged to join the same program offered through JIBC in Kelowna, B.C., where the program costs much less, at $4,200.

The only reason he was willing to pay the higher fees in the Yukon is so he could take the course locally.

The Kelowna-based course began at the same time it would have in Whitehorse, and is running on the same timeline originally planned.

Anton noted the Yukon program will now begin in early January.

That’s a timeline that just doesn’t work with the student now studying out of Kelowna due to his wedding plans next year.

Anton said there is a possibility that students have made other plans or arranged to attend other institutions for the course and now won’t change those plans.

However, based on the conversations yesterday, most are excited that it will happen in the territory.

The course will need a certain number of students, though, to run the various classroom scenarios the program entails. Anton still has to discuss what that number is with officials at the JIBC.

“At this point, we’re committed to seeing this through,” he said. “I feel like we’re going to make the threshold (of students needed for the course).”

Anton said the focus today will be on reaching the students he wasn’t able to Wednesday and begin planning for the course to start in the new year.

In an interview this morning, Community Services Minister Brad Cathers said the government is pleased to provide the funding, noting the value that comes with Yukoners studying and taking on positions in the health care field.

The government, he pointed out, only learned of the cancellation of the program through the media.

It was after the news broke that a prospective student met with Cathers on the matter and questions came up about it in the legislature from the opposition.

As he noted in a statement: “The Yukon government is very pleased that this program will go ahead in January.

“Our offer to assist was made based on our appreciation of how important this program is to students who are working to develop their skills and knowledge, and our goal to encourage training of health professionals to serve Yukoners.”

The government has been supportive of health care education through a number of funding initiatives in the past, he said.

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