March 16, 2021, Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Colleges and Universities, Ross Romano, announced the launch of an independent nursing degree offered through Humber College. Humber, which has offered a Bachelor of Nursing program in collaboration with the University of New Brunswick for nearly two decades, will become the first publicly-assisted college in Ontario to offer a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.

Following this afternoon’s announcement, Premier Ford responded to questions from media regarding the province’s response to COVID-19.

Additional Announcements

Earlier today, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, Lisa MacLeod, announced an investment of $105 million through the new Community Building Fund to support non-profit tourism, culture, sport, and recreation organizations. Funding will help these organizations recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

Further Details

Launch of Independent Nursing Degree

Today, Premier Ford and Minister Romano visited Humber College, where they officially recognized the launch of Humber College’s four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. Humber College will be the first publicly-assisted College in Ontario to independently offer a nursing degree.

This announcement is part of the government’s new pathways for nursing education, and is intended to provide prospective students with greater choice about where to pursue their studies. Institutions will also have greater flexibility and autonomy over their programming.

Humber College’s new standalone Bachelor of Science nursing degree program was formally approved on March 4. The first cohort of students will enter this program in September.

Ontario’s model of nursing education now including standalone Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs offered at colleges, universities, and through university-college partnerships.

Questions from Media

COVID-19 Vaccination Booking System

Prior to responding to questions, Premier Ford provided an update on the province’s booking system for COVID-19 vaccination appointments, which launched to the public yesterday. Yesterday alone, over 133,000 appointments were made.

Premier Ford also notified Ontarians that issues with the system had been resolved, and encouraged those who were unsuccessful booking appointments yesterday to try again.

Third Wave of COVID-19

When asked about reports that the province is now in the midst of the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Premier Ford said that he would be sitting down with Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, to discuss this. The Premier urged Ontarians not to let their guards down, despite progress in the provincial vaccine rollout, and to continue to adhere to public health measures.

NACI Guidance re: AstraZeneca Vaccine

The Premier was also asked about the National Advisory Committee on Immunization’s (NACI) updated guidance which expands recommended use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to include those 65 years of age and older. In response, the Premier noted that Ontario will fulfil its commitment to people aged 60-64 who have already registered for an appointment.

While Premier Ford noted that the updated NACI guidance was “good news,” he expressed frustration at the challenges introduced by “moving goal posts.” He also took the opportunity to emphasize the need for a more predictable supply of vaccines from the federal government.

Vaccination of High Priority Health Care Workers

Premier Ford was also asked about reports that York Region has expanded vaccine eligibility to “high priority health care workers,” as defined by the province. This group includes massage therapists, chiropractors, and naturopaths.

In response, Premier Ford voiced his concerns with this approach, and encouraged public health units to complete the vaccination of their most vulnerable residents, prior to moving on to the next target group.