Exploring Ontario's colleges: A journey through St. Lawrence, Cambrian and Canadore

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Hello, readers! As I continue to visit Ontario’s remarkable colleges, I want to share some highlights from my recent trips to St. Lawrence College in Kingston, Cambrian College in Sudbury and Canadore College in North Bay.  Graduates from these colleges and many other public colleges across Ontario are simply instrumental for the health-care, mining and aviation sectors. 

Let me start with St. Lawrence College, which recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of its nursing program.

The college continues to build on the excellent program that began in 1973. In 2021, St. Lawrence launched a new bachelor of science in nursing degree program that allows students to complete a full four-year honours degree program in nursing at the college. Expanding access and pathways trains nurses locally who then stay and support the local health-care system.

This increases opportunities for students to pursue nursing degrees in Kingston, Brockville and Cornwall and will play a prominent role in meeting the local demand for more nurses.

The college is also expanding its health sciences learning centres at all three campuses, thanks to over $1 million in generous donations from private companies and individual donors.

This expansion will include opening specialty nursing labs at the Kingston and Brockville campuses that will allow students to train for stressful emergencies through simulated situations. The labs will also provide upskilling and reskilling opportunities for professionals who are already working in health care.

The expansion will also see the college upgrading its paramedic program and will help strengthen the quality of care provided throughout the region.

In Sudbury, I saw college applied research and innovation in action at Cambrian College’s Smart Mining Centre.  Cambrian and its business partners are working on many innovations for mining, including those that will improve safety for miners working underground. 

Cambrian is helping NSS Canada, a mining technology company, research changes to miners’ hard hats using augmented reality to allow miners to operate machinery from a safer distance. They are working on ways to get the system to work underground, which would mean miners could work at a safer distance from falling or flying rocks.

Ontario is home to a growing mining industry that offers a range of well-paying job opportunities and colleges in the north are training for those jobs. By actively involving industry professionals and the program advisory committees in curriculum development, the college ensures its mining programs align with new advancements and technological breakthroughs in mining.

Our colleges also play an important role in the aviation industry. As I toured the amazing aviation training facilities at Canadore College in North Bay and watched the Snowbirds take off, I was struck with just how instrumental this kind of training is – without a workforce, the business moves elsewhere.

At Canadore, they offer training for avionics [the electronics of aviation], helicopter pilot training, training for aircraft mechanics and aircraft maintenance engineers. The labour market shortages in this economically critical sector are very large. 

Our colleges do such a wonderful job of serving their students, providing cutting-edge delivery models and superb student guidance and support. Take these videos from Canadore, which illustrate very well what prospective aviation students can expect.

These are all exciting developments and just a sample of the great initiatives at our colleges. Please visit again soon as I’ll be posting even more about the important work we’re doing throughout the province.

Marketa Evans

Marketa Evans is the president and CEO of Colleges Ontario, the advocacy association for Ontario’s 24 colleges. A moment with Marketa examines the top issues in post-secondary education today.