A growing petition is calling on the University of New Brunswick to reverse its decision to close its Bathurst nursing program.
UNB said earlier this month that it will no longer take applications to study nursing on the campus. The class of 2017 will be the last.
Erica Boudreau is graduating from a Bathurst high school in the spring and planned to study nursing in her community.
“The UNB decided to phase out their Bathurst satellite campus, voiding all the Bathurst applicants,” she said.
“I found out actually on the radio, because I only received a letter from UNB approximately a week later.”
Boudreau started an online petition to reverse the decision. It’s attracted more than 1,100 people so far.
“To see how broad it's gotten so fast — people from Ontario and out west and all that — I didn't expect it to go that big,” she said.
Bad for Pabineau First Nation
Other critics say the closure could hurt the entire region.
The Pabineau First Nation health centre has benefited from the program for years.
Phyllis Grant is the Brighter Futures program coordinator at the Pabineau Community Health Centre. She said the students are an irreplaceable resource.
“We started with one student from UNB, which transpired into five students the next year,” she said.
“The accelerated growth [of] resources in our community happened because of the building of the health centre and working closely with UNB. If we lose that, you're going stop that growth and it stunts the community.”
Brian Kenny, the Liberal MLA for Bathurst, said it's an economic issue.
“We have the lodging, we have the student services provided here, plus all the outreach services provided with the university,” he said.
Stephen Brunet, Bathurst's mayor, said UNB is making a big mistake. He's headed to Fredericton Tuesday with the region's Conservative MLA.
They'll be meeting with the university's administration to discuss alternative measures.