Hope College was denied their crucial $1.1 million grant from the Rural Alberta Development Fund and are currently planning another approach to fund the proposed post-secondary health care school.
The board justified its decision on its perception that there would not be sufficient practicum availability in the Drumheller and region health care system to support the education of students.
Ohlhauser said he believes they based their decision on statistics from the urban areas of Calgary and Edmonton.
“We worked very closely with them (local health centres) in developing the types of programs and their capacity as a health service centre to accommodate the student numbers we were envisioning.”
Because of the strength of the community response to this project, Ohlhauser believes there are larger corporations and people to band together and replace what would have been coming from this grant.
“That is probably an option we’d truly want to explore now. The time we were spending creating this application for the government could have probably been better spent talking to individuals,” he said.
Hope College submitted their application for review to both the Minister of Health and Minister of Advanced Education in December. Ohlhauser said the health minister reviewed the project and deferred them to Advanced Education which said there were full provisions in the province to move forward and gave well wishes to the project.
Ohlhauser said it was Alberta Health Services who told the RADF board they didn’t believe there was sufficient practicum placement for students. Hope College assumed Alberta Health Services was fine with the project since they reviewed it and deferred the group to Advanced Education.
“Had they told us that in December, we would’ve worked harder to address the issue,” said Ohlhauser. “We thought that was a little unfair, especially because we asked if they had any concerns.”
Once they receive clarification on the RADF board’s decision, they’ll determine if they have grounds to appeal the decision.
“We’re not planning on becoming the size of SAIT or NAIT at 20,000 students. Ultimately, in 10 or 15 years, we’ll be at 1,000 students over 15-20 programs.”
The RADF grant required Hope College to prove support from the Drumheller community by raising $300,000, and they did so two weeks ago. More than 40 local individuals, businesses, groups, and agencies pledged cash support.
“Over the next month we will seek alternative sources for the start-up funding. At that time we will be in a position to invite our pledge supporters to carry on with their support. However, if we are unsuccessful in finding alternative sources, there is no obligation on the part of the supporters to fulfill their pledge commitments,” said Hope College’s board chair Wayne Hove.
“We believe in this project – its value and potential for Drumheller and the surrounding region.”
Hope College was previously scheduled to open its doors in the fall of 2012, offering three courses in the health services field.