The Primary Care Paramedic program at Yukon College has been given a second life.
The announcement on Wednesday comes just a week after the last-minute cancellation of the program that left seven students prepared for class with nowhere to go.
Class was scheduled to start Monday, Dec. 2, but on the Friday before students were told the course had been cancelled.
When two of nine students pulled out, there was no longer enough money to run the course, the college said at the time.
Now, the Department of Community Services has stepped in with $23,000 in one-time funding – the equivalent of those two tuitions.
“I’m very, very happy,” said student Fabienne Brulhart. “It feels for once that the government has listened and taken action. I think that’s really great.”
This will be the second year the course has run at the college. Last year’s program was partly subsidized. This year was meant to be entirely paid for through tuition.
Nine students was the minimum needed to cover the bills for the five-month program that is run in conjunction with the Justice Institute of British Columbia.
College officials say they are happy to resurrect the program.
“Obviously we were very pleased, because nobody likes to put students in that position,” said college president Karen Barnes. “We had to think very hard before we made that decision, so obviously we were very pleased to be able to say ‘good news.’”
Instead of starting in December, the course, which is a combination of online and classroom work, will begin in January.
The one-time government contribution does not solve the problem of the low interest in the program.
Barnes said it is unlikely the college will run the program again – at least not for a while.
Often, programs run through continuing education are done based on an immediate labour market need, she said.
“Sometimes it will just run once and the funding is for that, and this time we thought there might be enough demand for two so we ran it again.
“It was a pretty close margin. Obviously the demand is not that high, so we probably wouldn’t run it again for a third time for a while anyways.”
In its inaugural year, four of eight students graduated and all four are fully employed, she said.
Community Services Minister Brad Cathers said he first heard about the program cancellation after the students did, through news reports.
Brulhart then met with the minister to share her concerns.
“We certainly empathize with them and think there’s value in getting that program running and giving them the opportunity to pursue their studies in paramedicine.”
The minister said the funds would be found within his department.
“Within the course of any given year there are new expenditures and reduced expenditures in certain areas. It will be something we will address internally in the Community Services budget.”
Cathers said there are currently no vacancies for this kind of position in the Yukon, but notes that in a large department there is turnover.
He pointed out the government has a number of initiatives to encourage health-care training and education.
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