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submitted: Thursday, March 23, 2017
Meeting the health-care needs of people in Invermere

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photo - Meeting the health-care needs of people in Invermere

Pictured (l-r) Krys Sikora, College Board of Governors Vice Chair; Wilda Schab, College Board of Governors Chair; Doug Clovechok, Invermere campus Manager; Heather Hepworth, Dean of Health & Human Services; Minister of Advanced Education, Andrew Wilkinson; College Executive Director, Regional & International Development, Patricia Bowron.

(Seated l-r) Health Care Assistant graduate Kayla Chinchar, Instructor Amanda Mauer, Health Care Assistant graduate Tania Bartschi.

More health-care seats are being added to the health-care assistant program at College of the Rockies (COTR) in Invermere, as a result of one-time funding of $118,000 to ensure that the demands of an aging population can be met in the community.

The announcement was made by Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson during a visit to the campus.

Funding will support 16 additional full-time equivalent (FTE) seats in the 32-week program, which includes both in-class learning and supervised clinical placements. The program covers the knowledge and skills required to provide personal care to individuals in residential care and community settings, such as home support and assisted living. The scheduled start date for the program is September 2017.

"Health-care assistants provide a valuable service that helps British Columbians continue to live in the communities that they call home," Wilkinson said. "Targeted funding of $118,000 for the health-care assistant program at College of the Rockies will help the Columbia Valley meet an ongoing demand for health-care professionals."

Health-care assistant graduates are in high demand throughout the province and play an important role as front-line caregivers who can work in both community and facility settings. Health-care assistants provide personal care that promotes and maintains the physical, psychological and social well-being of clients with a particular focus on the elderly and persons with disabilities.

"We thank Minister Wilkinson for the continued support of health-care assistant training at College of the Rockies' Invermere campus," said COTR president and CEO David Walls. "As our population ages, the demand for health-care assistants continues to grow. This additional investment will ensure the college can continue to help fill the need for these front-line caregivers in the Columbia Valley and beyond."

The health sector is one of the fastest growing fields in British Columbia and is part of a diverse, strong and growing economy. According to the 2025 B.C. Labour Market Outlook, the health sector employed 227,000 workers in 2015 and employment has grown at an average rate of 3.2% each year over the past decade.

"The health-care assistant program is a great way for people to enter into the health-care field," said COTR health-care assistant program coordinator Sandi Hill. "There are a lot of job opportunities in the Columbia Valley for health-care assistants and as the population ages, job opportunities will only increase. We look forward to being able to expand our offering of this valuable program."

Government is providing more than $1 million this year in one-time funding to support an additional 133 FTE seats at 11 post-secondary institutions throughout B.C.

Since 2008, the Province has provided annual one-time funding for additional education seats in health programs. Funding to date totals more than $16 million and has created almost 2,000 FTE seats.

Funding for health-care training is one of the key ways the B.C. government is taking action to strengthen, grow and diversify rural communities. Targeted health-care funding builds on the immediate investments and long-term action plan outlined in B.C's Rural Economic Development Strategy that are expected to create over 26,000 jobs and add $2.8 billion to provincial GDP.

Learn More:

2025 B.C. Labour Market Outlook
College of the Rockies

Media Contacts:
Lori Watson
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Advanced Education
250 387-8016

Heather Jackson
Communications Manager
College of the Rockies
250 489-8258