NORTEP students and protesters gathered in Regina on Oct. 19. Photo by Manfred Joehnck.

UPDATE: In an e-mailed statement, the Ministry of Advanced Education confirmed they’ve “received a recommendation for an alternate post-secondary provider” but would not comment further.

The Ministry’s statement goes on to say:

“We will consider the recommendation from NORTEP Council when we are making a decision, but we are not prepared to discuss anything related to that recommendation at this time.  The Minister of Advanced Education will make her decision respecting the future of programming early in 2017 once she has had the opportunity to review the recommendation and all of the options.”

The governing body of La Ronge’s NORTEP and NORPAC programs has told the province they think the Gabriel Dumont Institute is the best match for their school to partner with next fall.

NORTEP/NORPAC will lose its $3.4 million provincial operating grant in July of 2017 as the province redirects the funds to other post-secondary institutions.

NORTEP Council has spent the past month meeting with stakeholders and educational institutions in order to provide input for the province to consider as the Ministry of Advanced Education plans to find a partner institution that can deliver NORTEP’s programming in the future. The province has agreed to accept the Council’s recommendations.

NORTEP has issued news releases in recent months saying the school wishes to remain autonomous and is only participating in the process of consolidation “at the direction of the government.”

While Council members are staying silent on their choice, GDI’s executive director Geordy McCaffrey confirms that GDI is the Council’s top choice to deliver NORTEP’s programming in the future.

This comes after GDI made a presentation to NORTEP Council last week.

In McCaffrey’s view, GDI is a good fit because it has a 36-year track record in training more than 1,200 teachers.

“SUNTEP is very similar in operations to the way the NORTEP operates,” he said.

“We have access to a lot of faculty and a network of educational amenities that can be used to help NORTEP/NORPAC.”

GDI does not currently have a bricks and mortar structure in La Ronge, but McCaffrey says the approximately $10 million that GDI dedicates annually to the north shows “we are very active in the north.”

NORTEP Council’s recommendation is now in the ministry’s hands, but there is no guarantee that the ministry will go with GDI in its final decision on how to transition NORTEP’s programming.

Minister of Advanced Education Bronwyn Eyre was very clear on that point when she spoke at a NORTEP stakeholder’s meeting in La Ronge in November.

“It’s important that you understand, government will be making – I’ll be making – the final decision in early 2017 and the decision will of course take into account NORTEP Council’s report,” she said at the time.

McCaffrey said he understands decisions are still being made.

“Ultimately she (Eyre) has a very difficult decision and we’re confident in her abilities and we know she’ll do the right thing for the north,” he said.

Whatever happens, McCaffrey said he’s hopeful that a program has important as NORTEP will be able to continue producing “top notch workers for the north and people with bachelor’s degrees and all those good things that NORTEP’s been doing over the years.”