June 14, 2007

Careers in Community Healthcare Receives Community Economic Development Award at Provincial Conference


JUNE 13TH, ST. THOMAS, ON – Providing young people with viable career options to allow them to return to work in their rural communities seems too good to be true.  Yet, a multi-media educational project in South-Central Ontario called "Careers in Community Healthcare" is doing more than that – simultaneously educating future healthcare providers, helping to curb youth outmigration, as well as fill the need for workers in the healthcare career field.  The Project’s representatives received the provincial Community Economic Development Award last week at the Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporations (OACFDC) Conference in Honey Harbour.

Acknowledging the shortage of healthcare professionals, the South-Central Ontario’s Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDCs) have worked together to develop a solution.  The result of their initial meetings in 2003 is a high-impact educational DVD and website, which are gaining recognition and rave reviews with students, teachers and health professionals alike.  It has taken careful planning to ensure that the tools, developed in 2005, reached the intended audience of grade 7 to 10 students.

“In the beginning the team approached the project as adults and wanted to provide the information to the students ‘our way,’ but after conducting focus groups we found that our message would not get to the students if we followed this path,” says Dave Barrett, Project Manager of the Saugeen Economic Development Corporation, Hanover.  “We worked hard to listen to the feedback and develop tools to ensure students knew about the healthcare careers available and that rural Canada wanted them to return home.”

The website and DVD offer a great depth of information including a range of over 40 healthcare careers in rural Ontario and the educational steps necessary to achieve each of them.  Multiple copies of the DVD and information on the website were distributed to all schools, libraries, and employment resource centres throughout the catchment areas of the South Central Region, reaching hundreds of teachers and thousands of students.

The project is in the early evaluative stages, and the impact is clear.  The website averages over 3000 hits per month, and local School Boards are approaching the CFDCs for partnership projects like Career Fairs.  Encouragingly, Training and Adjustment Boards are interested in using the format to promote other careers experiencing labour shortages.

Barrett says that teachers are impressed, saying, “It was excellent,” and “… it was comprehensive and motivational.”  One student’s comment shows that the project is having its intended impact:  “Maybe I can finally decide what I would like to do, and I could look it up here.”

The Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporations (OACFDC) presented the award at its 2007 Awards Banquet which took place on Monday June 4th during its Annual Conference, and also featured presentations for Entrepreneur of the Year, as well as Youth and Innovative Initiatives Awards.  The conference, titled "From Broadaxe to Broadband – Hewing out the Future" was held at the Delawana Inn at Honey Harbour, and attracted a cross-section of more than 300 participants including CFDC staff and volunteers, as well as municipal, provincial and federal government representatives.

As community-based, non-profit organizations, CFDCs are run by a board of local volunteers.  They are staffed by professionals who encourage entrepreneurship and the pursuit of economic opportunities by offering strategic community planning and socio- economic development, support for community-based projects, business services, and access to capital.  Through FedNor/Industry Canada, the Government of Canada provides funding, advice and support to 61 CFDCs located throughout rural and Northern Ontario.

The OACFDC is a provincial association which is a member driven leader for sustainable community development.  Information about the Community Futures Program and "From Broadaxe to Broadband – Hewing out the Future" can be found on line at the OACFDC website.

Media Contact:  Dave Barrett, Project Manager
Saugeen Economic Development Corporation, Hanover
Telephone:  (519) 364-3694 / E-mail:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Media Contact:  Diana Jedig, Executive Director
Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporations (OACFDC)
Telephone:   888-633-2326 x23 / E-mail:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.