Ontario Takes Steps to Strengthen Postsecondary Education in Northern Ontario

Published on April 15, 2021

Proposed changes will make Northern Ontario School of Medicine and Université de Hearst independent, standalone degree granting universities

TORONTO — The Ontario government has introduced proposed legislation to establish the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) and Université de Hearst (Hearst) as independent, standalone degree-granting institutions. If passed, the legislation would formally recognize the integral role these institutions play in providing students with access to medical training and French-language studies in Northern Ontario.

"NOSM and Hearst provide specialized and important educational opportunities in Northeastern Ontario. They are ready to take the next step in their development and maturity as institutions," said Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities. "This new independence will ensure that each institution has the autonomy to grow in ways that more effectively support the access to quality education for students and communities in the region. Hearst will become Ontario's second stand-alone French language university, joining the Université de l'Ontario français. NOSM will become more agile and nimble to the changing needs of students as they help tackle the need for doctors and other health human resources in Northern Ontario."

As affiliated postsecondary institutions, NOSM and Hearst already operate largely independently. Both institutions are unique compared to other affiliates across Ontario as they already receive direct funding from the Ministry of Colleges and Universities. The proposed legislation, if passed, would provide the institutions with independent governance and administration, and will empower them to expand and explore offering more programs in new communities across Northern Ontario. It would also provide a pathway for the institutions to grant their own degrees, and the government intends to engage the expert guidance of the Postsecondary Education Quality Assessment Board in moving toward this milestone.

"This legislative proposal is an important milestone for the Université de Hearst and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. Operating as independent institutions with the ability to make choices about future partnerships and growth would allow them to better meet the needs and aspirations of their student population," said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Francophone Affairs. "With the Université de Hearst, Ontario now boasts two French-language universities, run by and for Francophones, which will undoubtedly strengthen the opportunities for Ontarians to learn, live and thrive in the language of their choice."

As identified in the 2021 Ontario Budget, Ontario's Action Plan: Protecting People's Health and Our Economyinvesting in postsecondary education institutions is part of the government's commitment to protecting the economy. By strengthening postsecondary education in Northern Ontario, the province is laying the foundation for a strong economic recovery.


Quick Facts

  • The Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) opened in 2005 and is currently a not-for-profit corporation of Lakehead University in Thunder Bay and Laurentian University in Sudbury.
  • In 2020-21, NOSM had nearly 460 full-time students enrolled at its two campuses in Northern Ontario.
  • NOSM educates future doctors that help improve the health of over 90 communities in Northern Ontario.
  • NOSM students complete more than 40 per cent of their training in Indigenous, small rural and larger urban Northern Ontario communities. This helps increase the likelihood that Indigenous and Francophone doctors continue working in their communities after graduation.
  • Université de Hearst (Hearst) was founded in 1953 and has been an affiliate of Laurentian University since 1963.
  • In 2020-21, Hearst had approximately 160 full-time students enrolled at its three campuses in Hearst, Kapuskasing and Timmins.

Additional Resources