In the wake of Laurentian University’s insolvency and the CCAA process it is currently going through, Premier Doug Ford’s Conservative government today announced its intention to introduce legislation to make the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and the Université de Hearst stand-alone entities with the power to issue their own degrees.
In a news release the province said the legislation would “formally recognize the integral role these institutions play in providing students with access to medical training and French-language studies in Northern Ontario.”
If passed, the legislation would see both institutions supported by independent governance and administration. The schools would have the ability to expand their course offerings and offering more programs in other communities in Northern Ontario.
The legislation “would also provide a pathway” for NOSM and the U. of Hearst to grant their own degrees.
“The government intends to engage the expert guidance of the Postsecondary Education Quality Assessment Board in moving toward this milestone,” the press release states.
Ross Romano, the minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, said the two institutions are ready to be independent from Laurentian, with which both are affiliated.
"They are ready to take the next step in their development and maturity as institutions," Romano said. "This new independence will ensure that each institution has the autonomy to grow in ways that more effectively support the access to quality education for students and communities in the region.”
If enacted, the legislation would make U. de Hearst Ontario's second stand-alone French-language university, joining the Université de l'Ontario français.
Independence would also give NOSM more ability to respond to changing student needs, Romano said.
“NOSM will become more agile and nimble to the changing needs of students as they help tackle the need for doctors and other health human resources in Northern Ontario," he said.
Francophone Affairs Minister Caroline Mulroney called the legislation a “milestone.”
"This legislative proposal is an important milestone for the Université de Hearst and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine,” she said. “Operating as independent institutions with the ability to make choices about future partnerships and growth would allow them to better meet the needs and aspirations of their student population."