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Ontario must also invest in college infrastructure projects

2009-01-28

(Brockville, Cornwall, Kingston, Jan. 28, 2009) – Ontario is being urged to follow Ottawa’s lead and invest in college infrastructure projects in this year’s provincial budget, St. Lawrence College president and CEO, Chris Whitaker said today.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for Ontario to create new jobs immediately and to invest in the province’s economic strength over the longer term," said Whitaker.

"Investing in shovel-ready projects will stimulate job growth and create new spaces to help colleges deliver quality education and training to Ontario students."

The comments follow yesterday’s federal budget announcement of investments into college infrastructure. The presidents from Ontario’s 24 colleges met in Toronto on Monday and Tuesday and the capital requirements at colleges was one of the main subjects of discussion.

Infrastructure plans for St. Lawrence College include approximately 50 million dollars for projects across our three campuses. Plans include consolidation and revitalization of the Cornwall campus, improvements to the Brockville campus to accommodate growth in the degree nursing, music theatre performance, and pre-service firefighter programs, and Kingston campus expansion to include space for renewable and sustainable energy programs, applied research, community and justice studies, and more.

Building repairs are long overdue in many colleges. Major systems such as water, sewer, mechanical, electrical and heating and air-conditioning need renewal.

There are also health and safety issues to address, such as facility modifications to improve access for disabled students. And additional capital funding will enable colleges to improve energy conservation and reduce future energy costs.

These kinds of renewal projects are in keeping with the province's plans, announced in 2004, to revitalize public infrastructure projects in priority areas such as schools, hospitals and roads.

The need for improvements is growing more urgent. The recession has increased the numbers of students applying to colleges. This year St. Lawrence College experienced a 16 per cent jump in applications to programs that start in January.

"Many people, including the recently unemployed, recognize that a college education provides excellent job opportunities," Whitaker said. "More than 90 per cent of our graduates find work within six months, which is a very attractive prospect in the current economy.

"Infrastructure investment at the colleges will mean government is investing in the future labour force as well as in immediate job creation in the short term."

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About St. Lawrence College
St. Lawrence College has approximately 6,000 full-time students from Canada and around the world, 20,000 part-time registrants, and 3,000 Job Connect Clients in over 80 academic programs and employs over 1,000 full-time and part-time staff at our three campuses in Brockville, Cornwall, and Kingston. In addition to new residences with more than 700 beds, the College has recently invested in new programs including degree Nursing, Bachelor of Business Administration, Energy Systems Engineering Technology, and the Culinary Co-op Apprenticeship Diploma Program, among others.