Two provincial ministers were at Camosun College’s Lansdowne campus last week to announce more than half a million dollars in funding for the school’s health-care programs.
Health Minister Terry Lake and Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson made the announcement in front of a packed room of health-care students and Camosun board members. The $550,000 funding boost will create 56 additional seats across three of the school’s health-care programs.
“In health care, there are numerous opportunities opening up because the population is getting older, and older people require more care than younger people in general,” said Wilkinson. “We’re looking at about a million job openings in British Columbia over the next 10 years and about 78 per cent of those are going to require further education like this.”
The funding will create 28 spaces in the mental health and addictions certificate program, 16 spaces in the indigenous health-care assistant program and 12 spaces in the health-care assistant program on Salt Spring Island.
“Most of us who have been to Salt Spring realize it’s a bit of an older population than the rest of us and they require care,” said Wilkinson. “It solves a whole bunch of problems by training people where the demand is.”
Cynthia Smith, dean of Camosun’s school of health and human services, said the $550,000 will be a big help to the college as the need for health-care assistants and mental health workers continues to grow.
“Today’s announcement means we will be able to educate more students closer to home in both indigenous and Gulf Island communities,” she said.
Carol Pesce, a graduate of the health care assistant program, spoke about her experience with Camosun and how the program prepared her for the workforce. She said she recently finished a six-week practicum at Saanich Peninsula Hospital and has already lined up a job with the hospital.
“This course was an amazing experience for me,” said Pesce. “I was transitioning from being a stay-at-home mom to going into the work field, and when I explored the different courses, this seemed perfect.”
Lake praised Camosun for their work in teaching health-care professionals, and said the funding boost will help B.C. address the ongoing growth of health care in the province.
“The health sector is one of B.C.’s largest and fastest-growing areas, and this targeted investment to train health-care assistants and mental health and addictions workers will help us meet the current and future health-care needs of British Columbians,” he stated.