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Northern college unhappy with NDP handling of midwifery program

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 4/8/2016 (1108 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The University College of the North felt blindsided by what it alleges was the former NDP government’s decision to assign the University of Manitoba a major role in UCN’s midwifery program the northern school believed had finally come together.

The school argued unsuccessfully against a provincial rush job when the NDP ordered UCN to accept a new class of first-year students in September of 2015, even though a joint UCN/U of M midwifery program ordered by the province was at least a year away.

And UCN urged unsuccessfully that the program remain at specially renovated leased space at the University of Winnipeg, where UCN will once again pay more than $177,000 in rent this academic year. Instead, midwifery moved last year to space in the nursing building on the Fort Garry campus.

UCN made available to the Free Press several documents and correspondence from late 2013 and 2014 when an agency of the former NDP government ordered the two schools to create a joint and expanded midwifery degree program.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 4/8/2016 (1108 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The University College of the North felt blindsided by what it alleges was the former NDP government’s decision to assign the University of Manitoba a major role in UCN’s midwifery program the northern school believed had finally come together.

The school argued unsuccessfully against a provincial rush job when the NDP ordered UCN to accept a new class of first-year students in September of 2015, even though a joint UCN/U of M midwifery program ordered by the province was at least a year away.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>UCN bachelor of midwifery signs at the entrance to the University of Winnipeg's annex. </p>

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

UCN bachelor of midwifery signs at the entrance to the University of Winnipeg's annex.

And UCN urged unsuccessfully that the program remain at specially renovated leased space at the University of Winnipeg, where UCN will once again pay more than $177,000 in rent this academic year. Instead, midwifery moved last year to space in the nursing building on the Fort Garry campus.

UCN made available to the Free Press several documents and correspondence from late 2013 and 2014 when an agency of the former NDP government ordered the two schools to create a joint and expanded midwifery degree program.

The province has spent more than $8 million since 2006 for a program, which graduated one student in 2013 and eight more in 2014, while moving in 2009 from the north to Winnipeg.

The 14 students who enrolled a year ago are in limbo, uncertain where, or if, they will go anywhere next month for the second year of their studies. The joint program required an additional $844,000 a year in provincial funding, which the NDP had not approved before losing power, and which Education Minister Ian Wishart has refused to fund until the midwifery program is sorted out and running properly.

The Council on Postsecondary Education told the two schools by letter on Nov. 12, 2013, that they were to create an ambitious joint program similar to the joint nursing program the two institutions already offered.

COPSE, which approved post-secondary programs and allocated provincial funding, while operating at arm’s-length from government, was absorbed into the education minister’s office in 2014.

UCN president Konrad Jonasson wrote to COPSE immediately of his surprise and concern.

"I was surprised by the suggested direction as, in my opinion, it goes far beyond any agreed upon action or direction previously discussed relating to a go forward position for the midwifery program. Any discussed action relating to a collaborative working relationship with the University of Manitoba was confined to co-operation and collaboration of clinical placements, utilizing the network for placements that UM has developed and building upon our working relationship with UM relating to our UCN nursing degree program," Jonasson wrote.

Arguing everything was happening too hastily, Jonasson urged that midwifery remain a UCN degree under UCN administration, and all staff remain as UCN employees.

Currently, U of M nursing Prof. Kellie Thiessen is director of the midwifery program, and the U of M is advertising for a midwifery instructor to begin teaching at the college of nursing next month — a job posting that makes no mention of UCN.

"I will not put UCN in a position where we cannot communicate a clear direction to stakeholders with respect to the midwifery program," declared Jonasson back in 2014. He told the province that UCN wanted the U of M to be just another "stakeholder" on the program’s advisory committee.

But by October of 2014, there was a formal partnership committee operating, which included several senior administrators from the University of Manitoba.

Minutes show deputy education minister Gerald Farthing told the schools the government required UCN to have an intake of students in September of 2015 and to have the two schools work together in a collegial partnership way.

The NDP has refused to make available for interviews MLAs Greg Selinger and James Allum, who were premier and education minister respectively when the government was directing creation of the joint program.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

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History

Updated on Thursday, August 4, 2016 at 6:00 PM CDT: Fixed cutline

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