Students in the Comox Valley will now have better access to healthcare assistant education programs.

The province announced a seat expansion and a new state-of-the-art learning space at NIC’s St. Joseph’s location this morning in Comox.

One-time program funding of $494,000 was provided to the college to create 60 new seats in one-time healthcare assistant programs and healthcare assistant prerequisite programming. The 60 new seats are in addition to the existing 40 seats the college already has for the program.

An additional $600,000 went to renovate two classrooms, study areas, meeting rooms and teaching labs at the former hospital, which signed a four-year lease with NIC for a space on the first floor.

Melanie Mark, the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training says it’s an exciting day for healthcare assistant students in the Comox Valley.

“It’s about having a 21st century facility for students that are studying in the 21st century. It’s really exciting to be here, but it’s all about the students. To thank them for signing up to be healthcare assistants because we need them in our communities all across BC,” says Mark.

“It’s an in-demand job. It might feel thankless at times but we really need people to step up to the plate and to thank them,” Mark added.

Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard says a new facility gives health-care assistant students the chance to learn and work locally.

“Students in my constituency now have better access to healthcare assistant programs in their own neighbourhood, and now high school grads and mature students can take training that they need at NIC to find good local jobs which we know we have a great need for”, says Leonard.

“This visit here today to see these students learning these important skills solidifies the importance of our government funding project like this. A project that is increasing access to education and ultimately access to qualified caregivers to the people of the Comox Valley.”