By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com
Ahead of the Ontario election, the Liberals have appointed facilitators for Alfred and Kemptville Colleges.
This is the latest development since the University of Guelph announced earlier this spring that it would be closing two of its Ontario Agricultural College satellite campuses, Kemptville and Alfred, in 2015 citing financial reasons.
Facilitator appointments were confirmed on Monday by incumbent Liberal candidate for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell Grant Crack. The facilitators are - Marc Godbout (Alfred College) and Lyle Vanclief (Kemptville College). Both facilitators have ties to the Liberal Party of Canada.
“I am happy to report that we have facilitators in place,” Grant said in an interview, adding that contracts have been signed with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. “The government of the day did not want to put things on hold just because of an election campaign.”
On the eve of budget day, Brad Duguid Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities said that he expected the appointment of facilitators to be announced “very soon.” “We want to make sure that we get the right people because this is a very important priority for the Premier,” he said in an interview.
Community groups and area politicians including the Kempville College Task Force and PC MPP Steve Clark have been calling on the government to appoint provincial facilitators to find a viable solution to continue offering agriculture programing in eastern Ontario.
“They [the facilitators] are going to look at potential programs that will be required to meet the needs of our rural communities,” explained Crack.
The Liberals had recently announced that it would provide $2-million to the University of Guelph to allow an intake of students for the fall 2014 term. But only select programs (trade-related courses) would continue to be offered. The agriculture diploma program and others were not part of the funding package.
“We’ve replaced the bulk of a cohort that would have been coming in September, which is 150 new students, doubling what the campus population would have been without the announcement,” explained Duguid.
The provincial grant was given to buy time for those programs to be taken over by other colleges.
Facilitator: Marc Godbout
• Former Member of Parliament for Ottawa-Orléans, Liberal Party of Canada (2004-2006)
• Former Assistant Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Education
Facilitator: Lyle Vanclief
• Former Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food for Canada, Liberal Party of Canada (1997-2003)
• Graduate of the Ontario Agricultural College, University of Guelph