Vancouver Island students get new learning facility, more health-care seats

COMOX — More students in the Comox Valley, on the west coast and north island will now have access to health-care assistant education programs.

This increase in these high-demand programs is thanks to a seat expansion and new state-of-the-art learning space at North Island College (NIC).

“Investing in more student spaces for in-demand health-care assistant programs, like the one at

North Island College, means we are creating better access to education for students while ensuring British Columbians will have the top-quality health care they need for generations to come,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “We need people on the Island to have access to local education and training opportunities so they can offer much-needed supports closer to home.”

More than $1 million in one-time funding enabled the college to lease and renovate the first floor of the former St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Comox. Seats at the college will be added so six additional health-care assistant certificate cohorts can run through 2019 and 2020.

“We’re so thankful to the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training for providing the funding for NIC to renovate, lease and equip the space at St. Joe’s,” said John Bowman, president, NIC. “We’re now able to meet increasing demand for high-enrolment programs while we seek more permanent solutions to deal with space constraints at our Comox Valley campus.”

One-time program funding of $494,000 was provided to NIC to create 60 new seats in one-time health-care assistant programming and health-care assistant prerequisite programming. These

NIC programs provide learning and training opportunities close to home for students in the

Comox Valley at St. Joseph’s, as well as Campbell River, Port Hardy and the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The 60 new seats are in addition to the existing

40 seats the college already has for health-care assistants.

“Increasing the number of health-care assistants in B.C. is a part of government’s commitment to strengthen the staff available to provide services for seniors to ensure they can receive the care they need and deserve,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Health-care assistants have one of the most important jobs of making daily life better for seniors by providing compassionate personal care and social interaction, which are essential to healthy aging.”

An additional capital investment of $600,000 went to renovate this new space and to purchase the equipment that will help students be industry ready. The college signed a four-year lease for the former surgical daycare space on the first floor of the former St. Joseph’s General Hospital, which has been renovated to include two classrooms, study areas, meeting rooms and teaching labs.

NIC’s health-care assistant students began their program at St. Joseph's in August 2019. An evening/weekend offering started in November, and a second daytime cohort began in January 2020.

These investments at NIC are part of a bigger investment government has made in health-care assistants through the ministries of Health, and Advanced Education, Skills and Training. In October 2019, the ministries announced $3.64 million in operating funding over the next two years to create 418 new health-care assistant seats in 14 post-secondary institutions throughout British Columbia.


Sean Leslie
Communications Director
Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training
250 356-8485

Elizabeth Young
Media Liaison
North Island College
250 334-5233

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Quick Facts:

  • Health-care assistant is considered a high-demand health occupation by B.C.’s Ministry of
  • B.C.'s 2018 Labour Market Outlook predicts around 82,000 job openings in the health sector through 2028.
  • Health-care assistants provide personal support services for seniors, people with disabilities and people with acute or chronic illnesses.
  • Health-care assistants work in a variety of settings, including home support, assisted living and long-term care homes.