Liberal critic for advanced education and skills Andrew Parsons said Wednesday employees at the College of the North Atlantic (CNA) campus in Qatar are worried about their future amid rumours another college will get the contract.
This province’s contract with Qatar ends August 2013.Parsons said a number of sources at CNA in Qatar have told the Liberals the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) is being awarded the contract.
A spokeswoman for SAIT said Thursday she could find no indication the school is even talking with Qatari officials about taking over the contract.
SAIT does have a contract to provide educational services to Kandahar, Afghanistan.
“My understanding is there is no discussions here. It might be another institution they have mixed up,” the spokeswoman said when asked about Qatar.
Premier Kathy Dunderdale similarly said that she’s not aware of anything.
She said a new contract was recently signed with Qatar to continue operating at the campus, and as far as she’s concerned, there’s no plan to shut down operations any time soon.
“This is news to me if it’s so. It’s not anything that I’ve been briefed on,” she told reporters.
Just confirm or deny, MHA says
Parsons said he just wants government to confirm or deny the rumours.
He said given all the controversy in the past over internal management issues at the campus, it’s understandable employees are uneasy. But he still sees the 10-year-old campus as a success story.“I hope there is a contract signed,” Parsons said. “People working there deserve to know.”Obviously, he said, the employees — thousands of miles from home — aren’t getting the information they need from their bosses.
According to a news release late Wednesday from Advanced Education and Skills Minister Joan Burke, contract talks are continuing with Qatari officials.The current contract originally scheduled to end Aug. 31, 2012, had been extended to Aug. 31, 2013.
No indication of change“While we continue discussions to secure a long-term arrangement with the State of Qatar, we have been given no indication that the current contract with College of the North Atlantic has been awarded to another institution,” Burke said.
“Contract negotiations are ongoing and it is the hope of this government that they will result in a contract that provides benefits to both the people of Qatar through the college and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.