Ontario Equips Barrie Students For Success
Good afternoon to all of you, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
Thanks for taking the time and removing yourselves from your immediate responsibilities to join us here today for this important announcement.
And thanks for taking on the responsibility and enjoying the very special privilege associated with providing nursing care.
My mom was a nurse and I had the very good fortune, after high school, to take a year off and work as an orderly. And I worked for nurses.
And the only thing that I would ask you to keep in mind, I know you're motivated by all the right reasons as you pursue this noble undertaking, which is to care for people, is to keep in mind the folks that you're caring for aren't just any people.
They're our moms and our dads.
They're our brothers and our sisters.
Our sons and our daughters.
Our friends and our neighbours.
They are the most important people in the world to us.
So if I can offer just one unsolicited piece of free advice to those young people who are pursuing nursing as a career: keep in mind those people that you're caring for are very special to us. And we're very grateful for all the good work you're going to do on our behalf.
So we wish you the best of luck. Thank you.
I'm really pleased to be joined by my colleague and my friend Aileen Carroll.
Aileen talked about some of the stuff that we've been able to do as a government. And there's two things that I want to say in response to that.
Number one, our shared responsibility -- as part of a party that is privileged to serve Ontarians in government -- is to give expression to Ontarians at their best.
At our best, we're kind, generous, caring, strong, resolute, determined, and fair.
That's who we are at our best.
And our responsibility in government is merely to do nothing more and nothing less than give expression to the good character of the people we represent. And that's what we try to do through all of our policies and all of our initiatives.
But, having said that, you need a local champion.
Somebody who understands the community, understands its needs, its concerns, its hopes, its aspirations. And I'm really proud of the work that we've been able to do here. Because of Aileen, you know, we brought the GO Train back to Barrie, we've got more cancer care here at the Royal Vic -- we're doing some more expansion there as well.
Aileen was here in May with Minister Malloy and President Tamblyn to announce funding for your new health and wellness centre. That centre, as you probably know, is a wonderful project -- biggest ever here at Georgian -- $65 million dollars and its going to help make room for 3,000 more students.
So I know I speak for all of us when I say thank you Aileen for the wonderful championship that you've brought on behalf of your community. Thank you very much.
I want to congratulate President Brian Tamblyn and Chair Eric Broger and all the other folks who are part of the board of governors, and everybody who is associated with this wonderful institution. I want to thank you for having the vision and determination to help make a great college even better. And I am very proud of the work that you are doing here together.
You excel in so many areas, including automotive, manufacturing, aviation, culinary arts, and, of course, health care. And while Ontario's 24 community colleges have a remarkable record of 89 per cent -- think of that -- 89 per cent of their grads getting a job within six months. Here at Georgian, you're beating that with your own amazing record of 92.4 per cent of your grads getting that first job within months.
And the truth is, we -- and by that I mean all of us -- need Georgian and all of our colleges and universities to do what they do so well for us -- which is build a highly skilled and educated workforce.
Our single greatest competitive advantage in a highly competitive global economy is not taxes, but taxes are important. It's not technology, but our ability to exploit technologies is important. It's not our natural resources.
It's our talent.
And it's the continuing shared commitment of the older generation to hold the door of opportunity open to the younger generation by continually investing in the development, in the nurturing of their talent.
That's what we're doing here today.
That's why our government keeps making dramatic investments in skills and education.
Since 2003, inflation has gone up by 11 per cent. Funding for our elementary and high schools since 2003 has gone up by 34 per cent. Here at Georgian, we've increased our annual operating dollars by 58 per cent.
Again, to compete and win today, we need all our people at their best.
It's not a case of sink or swim, it's not a case of survival of the fittest, the case today is all hands on deck. We need everybody and we need them at their best. It's a matter of enlightened self interest. The more Ontarians that can achieve their potential, that can be the very best that they can be, the better it is for all of us.
And that's why today I'm here to announce even more improvements for Georgian.
We're investing nearly $1.6 million to give students here the equipment they need to succeed. You know, when it comes to education, in many cases, there's simply no substitute for hands-on experience. It's important for students to learn using the same tools that they're going to use out there in the workplace.
That's why this investment will enable, for example, our culinary students to get their hands on a chill blaster, which is what the industry uses to quick-freeze food.
And it's also important that students learn in scenarios that are as life-like as possible.
That's why this investment will enable nursing students to practice emergency situations on high-tech sim babies. Frankly, as a parent, I wish I'd had one of those about 30 years ago. Although I guess changing diapers isn't really an emergency, but it just seemed like one at the time.
We want to make it easier for our students to hit the ground running when they enter the workforce. And that's even more necessary now in challenging economic times than ever before. So I'm pleased that our government is doing our part to ensure that our students have what they need to succeed in today's competitive economy.
Together, we've come a long way when it comes to improving the skills and education of Ontarians.
You know, just last week I was invited to participate in an education conference in Washington. It was a conference for all American governors. They invited somebody from Ontario, somebody from Finland, and somebody from Singapore.
We in Ontario have been in the top 5 internationally in terms of our international test scores for quite some time now, and I know it's human nature for us to focus on work still to be done and challenges yet to be overcome, but in the grand scheme of things, we've actually come a long way in terms of improving the quality of learning opportunities for all our people.
We have 100,000 more students in colleges and universities today, that's an increase of 25 per cent since 2003.
We have the highest rate of participation in postsecondary education in the western world, right here in Ontario.
That's our distinction.
And in our elementary and secondary schools, we now have smaller primary classes, higher test scores, and higher graduation rates.
Now that seems to me that's an edge worth honing and worth owning. But we need to do more.
You know, I brag about the fact that we've got the highest rate of postsecondary education in the western world, it's 40 per cent. But all the experts are telling us 70 per cent of the new jobs are going to require a postsecondary education. We're at 40. It's the best in the western world, but it's not nearly good enough. We're going to have to get to 70 per cent.
So, if we are going to continue to grow our economy, to make sure that Ontarians can get good training so they can get good jobs, then we've got to keep partnering with our community colleges, because you play an absolutely vital role in equipping our young people for success.
And I want to thank all of you for all that you do for our students; for encouraging them to be their best, to reach higher, and to achieve more.
Just like you, I believe passionately in the power of education. That's the power to lift all of us up.
Together, let's continue to support education and training opportunities for all Ontarians.
There is simply no better way to build up Ontario than to build up Ontarians.
Thank you very much.