Sudbury

Northern Ontario School of Medicine to separate from Laurentian University

As Laurentian University in Sudbury continues to restructure after declaring financial insolvency Feb. 1, the province has announced its plans to allow the Northern Ontario School of Medicine to become its own independent, degree granting institution.

Ontario government says proposed legislation will empower the schools to expand and consider new programs

The Northern Ontario School of Medicine campus in Sudbury. The school opened in 2005 and is currently a not-for-profit corporation of Lakehead University in Thunder Bay and Laurentian University in Sudbury. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC)

As Laurentian University in Sudbury continues to restructure after declaring financial insolvency Feb. 1, the province has announced its plans to allow the Northern Ontario School of Medicine to become its own independent, degree granting institution.

The same is being proposed for the Université de Hearst, which is also affiliated with Laurentian. If Université de Hearst becomes independent, it would be the province's second stand-alone French language university, joining the Université de l'Ontario français.

Minister of Francophone Affairs Caroline Mulroney says the move will "undoubtedly strengthen the opportunities for Ontarians to learn, live and thrive in the language of their choice."

Université de Hearst was founded in 1953 and has been an affiliate of Laurentian University since 1963. (Francis Bouchard/Radio-Canada)

The province says it has introduced proposed legislation to make the changes.

"NOSM and Hearst provide specialized and important educational opportunities in northeastern Ontario. They are ready to take the next step in their development and maturity as institutions," said Ross Romano, minister of Colleges and Universities, in a release.

The proposed legislation, if passed, would provide the institutions with independent governance and administration, and will empower them to expand and explore offering more programs in new communities across northern Ontario, the province says.

The Northern Ontario School of Medicine campus in Thunder Bay. (Northern Ontario School of Medicine)

In the 2020-21 school year, NOSM had nearly 460 full-time students enrolled at its two campuses in northern Ontario. Students complete more than 40 per cent of their training in Indigenous, small rural and larger urban northern Ontario communities.

Université de Hearst had roughly160 full-time students enrolled at its three campuses in Hearst, Kapuskasing and Timmins during the 2020-21 school year.

In a statement, NOSM President Dr. Sarita Verma says she's unable to comment on the news "in light of Laurentian University's Companies' Creditor Arrangement Act proceedings.

Verma added:

"We will continue to work with the Government of Ontario, rural, Indigenous and Francophone communities, learners, faculty and staff, and our institutional partners to remain an internationally renowned institution that prepares world-class health-care professionals to practise in Ontario."

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