North

Include more voices in the Aurora College review, says MLA

An Aurora College review is currently underway and the Standing Committee on Social Development wants more voices included to talk about program cuts to teacher education and social work.

Registered nurses, teachers and social workers associations should get a say, says Shane Thompson

An Aurora College review is currently underway and the Standing Committee on Social Development wants more voices included to talk about program cuts to teacher education and social work.

More voices should be included in the review of N.W.T.'s Aurora College currently underway, says the territory's Standing Committee on Social Development, in order to speak to the proposed program cuts to teacher education and social work.

Proposed cuts to both the college's social work and teacher education programs for 2017- 2018 were put on hold while the review is taking place. However, the programs are not currently accepting new students. 

MLA Shane Thompson, committee chair, says the comprehensive review needs to include the Association of Social Workers in Northern Canada, the NWT Teachers' Association, and the Registered Nurses Association of the N.W.T. and Nunavut.

Committee members sent a letter last week to Minister of Education, Culture and Employment Alfred Moses, calling for these associations to be added to a list of concerned parties to speak to.

Top jobs in demand

The three associations represent fields expected to have high demand for jobs over the next 13 years, according to the Education department's report Skills4Success — N.W.T. Jobs in Demand: 15-year forecast, which looked at the top jobs expected to be in demand in the territory between 2015 and 2030.

Social workers, registered nurses, and teachers are all listed as jobs requiring a university degree. For jobs requiring a college degree, social and community service workers are also listed in the top 20.

"These positions are highly noted in the table," said Nahendeh MLA Thompson. "It's important for that to be part of the review."

The review is looking at five aspects of the college: governance, operations, programming, accountability and student recruitment and retention.

List of stakeholders

In the review's terms of reference, several stakeholders are listed, including Indigenous governments and organizations, the Northern Farm Trading Institute, and the NWT & Nunavut Chamber of Mines.

The list was made with input from MLAs, the Education Department and Aurora College.

College students and staff will also be consulted.

The assistant deputy minister for labour and income security says the review is "very broad and far-reaching" — and that's why stakeholders, who represent broad industry interests, were included.

But Andy Bevan says the stakeholders will not look at specific programming; they'll focus on the range of programs a post-secondary institution in the N.W.T. should provide.

"[Stakeholders are] not bringing a particular perspective around one program, but the type of program the college might consider delivering from an industry perspective," he said.

But Thompson still believes associations need to be included.

"It's the whole college review and I agree with that, but these are stakeholders that have interest in the program that's offered by the government," he said.

"They have some good insight on how the programs are working for their associations and the work out there."

Not enough, says MLA

Bevan says his department will be reaching out to the three associations to discuss how they can engage in the review. He noted they can also contribute through a public survey online.

Thompson says it's not enough.

"I think they deserve to be interviewed specifically."

CBC reached out to the Association of Social Workers in Northern Canada, the NWT Teachers' Association, and the Registered Nurses Association of the N.W.T. for comment.

Only the teachers' association responded, saying it does not consider itself a stakeholder in this review.

"We don't have any members at Aurora College," explained Fraser Oliver, president of the teachers' association.

"It really isn't part of our mandate … but if they ever asked us our opinion of suggestions to make things better, we'd certainly offer that."

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