June 29, 2017
For Immediate Release

Minister Had One Year to Fix Respiratory Therapy Program and Protect Students

David Brazil, Advanced Education Critic for the Official Opposition, said, “The Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Labour had a full year to fix the College of the North Atlantic’s Respiratory Therapy program after the Council on Accreditation for Respiratory Therapy placed the program on probation in June 2016‎. But what did the Minister do in that time to upgrade the program, inform students of what was being done, and protect students from the predicament they find themselves in now?”

“When was the Minister made aware, and what actions did he take?” Brazil asked. “The Minister cannot distance himself from responsibility for this because he claimed to have College of the North Atlantic and all of its programs under close review for the entirety of this time as part of the ‘no-stone-unturned’ 2016 and 2017 Budget processes‎. It was his responsibility as Minister to do his due diligence to safeguard the integrity of the College’s programs that taxpayers are funding and to protect its students.”

“Students have invested huge sums of money and years of their lives in a program that is now suspended. New students were accepted into the program after it was placed on probation in June 2016. The College and the province accepted their money. The Liberal government had a moral obligation to inform, involve and protect the students. Instead, the Ball government let them continue to invest their time and money in an education program that the government failed to properly secure.”

“How can these students – part-way through their program – complete their education and receive trustworthy credentials when the institution at which they have studied has lost its accreditation on this government’s watch?” said Brazil.

“Why did the Minister not ensure the College used the past year to upgrade the program to satisfy the rigorous demands of the Accreditation Council? Why did he not keep students in the information loop all along the way‎?”

“Will the province now ensure ‎that each and every affected student is afforded the opportunity to complete their program at an accredited institution elsewhere, and will the province cover the added costs they incur? This would not make up for their lost time or their association with a failed program, but it is the least the province can do, having failed these students miserably,” said Brazil.

“What about the impact on the industry and the clients who need respiratory therapists? Does the loss of the program and its expected graduates leave our province without the respiratory therapists we need, or affect the standing of any of its graduates? Does the public have any reason to be concerned?”

“The Minister has an obligation to explain how and why both he and the College mishandled this situation so badly over the past year, and hurt the very students they were obligated to look out for. That year of probation was a year of opportunity to avoid the very consequences that we are seeing today,” added Brazil.

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Media Contact:
Heather MacLean
Director of Operations and Communications
Office of the Official Opposition
(709) 729 6105, heathermaclean@gov.nl.ca