COU Submission to Bill 276: Supporting Northern Ontario’s Students, Communities and Higher Learning

Home News COU Submission to Bill 276: Supporting Northern Ontario’s Students, Communities and Higher Learning

COU Submission to Bill 276: Supporting Northern Ontario’s Students, Communities and Higher Learning

“With a shared goal of supporting Ontario’s Northern communities, ensuring access to high-quality health-care services and providing students with a world-class education, Ontario’s universities are committed to working with government to ensure the continued success of the province’s Northern institutions, including Université de Hearst (Hearst) and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM).

Ontario’s universities are highlighting a number of critical issues in Bill 276 Supporting Recovery and Competitiveness Act, 2021 that would undermine Northern autonomy, quality assurance and financial sustainability. If the government wishes to proceed with the two standalone institutions, then the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) proposes a number of changes to the Bill to mitigate against these impacts and allow the province to strengthen French-language university education in the North, as well as expand medical education to communities throughout Northern Ontario.

These amendments work to ensure the student experience is not disrupted and students enrolled in these institutions can be assured that their degrees meet the same rigorous standards as all other Ontario universities. The proposed amendments also ensure Northern autonomy.

In particular, Ontario’s universities recommend establishing NOSM and Hearst through comprehensive standalone legislation that will help ensure they are governed by an independent Board of Governors and governing body, and that their programs be approved through an independent quality assurance process. COU also recommends that NOSM continues to grant degrees through Lakehead and Laurentian to avoid duplication of existing programs and work with existing universities to expand operations throughout Northern Ontario.

With the necessary structures in place to establish NOSM and Hearst as autonomous, independent institutions, they will be able to provide strong stewardship of public sector dollars, ensure accountability for student success, help drive community development and innovation and act as an engine for regional economic development.

Ontario’s universities are unwavering in our support for students and communities across Ontario’s North and encourage the government to adopt an approach that improves access to health-care services and provides students and the region with institutions that are accountable to the populations they serve.

We believe our amendments will enhance Bill 276 and protect Ontario’s Northern institutions in a way that preserves the value of an Ontario university degree and ensures the province’s universities remain world-renowned and globally competitive.”

– Steve Orsini, President and CEO, Council of Ontario Universities

To read our full submission to the Standing Committee on General Government, click here.


Tags: Bill 276