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Camosun health program gets $500,000 shot in the arm

Aug 31 2012

Camosun College will get a $506,000 injection of funds this year for an additional 64 student spaces in its health-care assistant program.

The funding is part of $2.4 million in one-time only funding the province will spend to open up 261 student spaces in health-care programs at nine colleges, universities and institutions across B.C.

"This is targeted funding," said Advanced Education Minister Naomi Yamamoto. "It's meant to address the immediate need for health-care workers in the Greater Victoria region."

Yamamoto said her ministry works with the Ministry of Health to determine the need in various occupations.

"That need changes," she said. "In some of the communities, you don't need to fund nurses or radiographers every single year. So we do it as needed."

The money will fund 32 fulltime spaces and 32 part-time spaces in Camosun's health-care assistant program for 2012-13.

Graduates of the program provide care in settings such as home support agencies and residential care facilities.

Ida Chong, MLA for the Oak Bay-Gordon Head riding where Camosun is located, noted that the college netted about 20 per cent of the announced funding.

"Of the 261 students [across B.C.] that are going to avail themselves, 64 are here at Camosun," she said. "So I would say we've had a pretty good year."

But not everyone agreed.

Madeline Keller-MacLeod, an executive member of the Camosun Student Society, said one-off funding is not sustainable and does not address what she characterized as chronic underfunding at the college.

College funding has been frozen for more than three years, Keller-MacLeod said, which amounts to a reduction of between two and three per cent due to inflation.

She said the funding shortfall has already resulted in the cancellation of the applied communications program and put the dental hygiene program at risk.

Keller-MacLeod said the $506,000 was close to the $590,000 it would have taken to have kept the applied communications program running. The program was suspended in April as part of efforts to erase a $2.5million deficit.

"It's very close to the amount we would have needed to continue the applied communications program, which is one of our most highly employable programs at the college," Keller-MacLeod said.

"There were students already relying on that program, and they've been told: 'Good luck.

Hopefully, you'll find something else.' Now we have new seats being created?"

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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