NORTEP/NORPAC stakeholder’s meeting last Thursday in La Ronge. Photo courtesy NORTEP/NORPAC Facebok group, posted by April Chiefcalf.

The province says it’s reached an agreement with the NORTEP Council that will allow the council to lead consultations on the post-secondary institution’s future.

The consultations will take place this month with stakeholders and other post-secondary institutions. It’s intended to provide input to the Ministry of Advanced Education as it takes a “student-focused approach for transitioning [NORTEP/NORPAC] programs to a post-secondary institution” beyond July 31, 2017, according to a government news release issued Monday.

The annual $3.4 million grant for NORTEP, a La Ronge-based post-secondary institution, will end next summer as the province redirects those funds to other northern Saskatchewan institutions.

The program would be consolidated into other northern institutions like Northlands College, the University of Saskatchewan, University of Regina, Gabriel Dumont Institute, Northern Lights School Division and First Nations University of Canada.

Since then, former students and NORTEP supporters who want to see the program remain in its current form have launched protests and a social media blitz.

A NORTEP/NORPAC stakeholder’s meeting was held in La Ronge last week, and Minister of Advanced Education, Bronwyn Eyre was in attendance.

Her ministry’s Monday news release says “both the NORTEP Council and the Ministry agree that changes in the delivery of the NORTEP and NORPAC programs must be carefully considered to minimize impacts on current and future students.”

The NORTEP Council’s recommendations will be delivered to the Ministry of Advanced Education next month, and the news release says it will consider them “to determine a student-focused approach for transitioning programs to a post-secondary institution. The Minister is expected to make a decision respecting future program delivery early in 2017. A detailed transition plan will follow.”