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Byrne confident Western Regional School of Nursing will become part of MUN

Advanced Education, Skills and Labour Minister Gerry Byrne
Advanced Education, Skills and Labour Minister Gerry Byrne

Corner Brook’s new hospital won’t have one thing the current one does, and that’s space for the Western Regional School of Nursing.

The Department of Health told The Western Star last week that there is no dedicated space planned in the new hospital for the nursing school. It will, however, have a number of multi-purpose spaces that can be used to support educational learning and training opportunities, said the department in an email.

Gerry Byrne, Advanced Education, Skills and Labour Minister said nobody should be alarmed about that revelation, as the intention has been for sometime for the school to go into Memorial University’s Grenfell Campus.

That intention dates back to a 2005 White Paper on post-secondary education and came at a time when discussion centred around revitalization and expansion of Grenfell.

Looking at it now, Byrne said he’s at a loss as to why the conversation about the nursing school was never acted upon by the PC government.

“There was a point in time we had surplus cash,” he said, adding bringing the nursing school into MUN then would have been a straightforward and sensible fit.

Under the Liberal administration, Byrne said his department and the Department of Health are working with the Western Regional School of Nursing, operated by Western Health, Eastern Health’s Centre for Nursing Studies and Memorial University of Newfoundland to determine if there is interest and merit to consolidate the three nursing schools in the province into one administered exclusively by Memorial.

From Byrne’s perspective having the Western Regional School of Nursing remain in the city is a “non-negotiable element” of those discussions.

And he’s confident consolidation of the schools can be achieved, but notes it will take some effort to overcome the issues associated with it.

One of those is finding space for the school at Grenfell, another is the fiscal situation of the province — the money is no longer there — and a third is the administrative implications of consolidating the schools, especially in terms of salaries, severance, vacations and pensions as employees more from one employer to another.

Construction of the new hospital is not slated for completion until 2023, so Byrne said that does give some time to resolve those issues.

The Department of Health told The Western Star last week that there is no dedicated space planned in the new hospital for the nursing school. It will, however, have a number of multi-purpose spaces that can be used to support educational learning and training opportunities, said the department in an email.

Gerry Byrne, Advanced Education, Skills and Labour Minister said nobody should be alarmed about that revelation, as the intention has been for sometime for the school to go into Memorial University’s Grenfell Campus.

That intention dates back to a 2005 White Paper on post-secondary education and came at a time when discussion centred around revitalization and expansion of Grenfell.

Looking at it now, Byrne said he’s at a loss as to why the conversation about the nursing school was never acted upon by the PC government.

“There was a point in time we had surplus cash,” he said, adding bringing the nursing school into MUN then would have been a straightforward and sensible fit.

Under the Liberal administration, Byrne said his department and the Department of Health are working with the Western Regional School of Nursing, operated by Western Health, Eastern Health’s Centre for Nursing Studies and Memorial University of Newfoundland to determine if there is interest and merit to consolidate the three nursing schools in the province into one administered exclusively by Memorial.

From Byrne’s perspective having the Western Regional School of Nursing remain in the city is a “non-negotiable element” of those discussions.

And he’s confident consolidation of the schools can be achieved, but notes it will take some effort to overcome the issues associated with it.

One of those is finding space for the school at Grenfell, another is the fiscal situation of the province — the money is no longer there — and a third is the administrative implications of consolidating the schools, especially in terms of salaries, severance, vacations and pensions as employees more from one employer to another.

Construction of the new hospital is not slated for completion until 2023, so Byrne said that does give some time to resolve those issues.

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