Contact North: A Case Study in Public Policy Lessons from the First 25 Years

Over the course of its 25 year history, Contact North | Contact Nord, a made-in-Northern Ontario success story, has made a significant impact on the lives of residents in small, rural and remote communities according to a new report, Contact North: A Case Study in Public Policy, Lessons from the First 25 Years.

Today, Contact North I Contact Nord serves all of Ontario with 112 online learning centres located in small, rural and remote communities right across the province. It is Ontario’s distance education and training network.

In the April 22, 1986 Speech from the Throne, then Premier David Peterson announced a “major project in Northern Ontario…to expand the use of new technologies in delivering distance education to remote communities….”  That major project was Contact North | Contact Nord.   

Authored by Dr. Ross H. Paul, former President of Laurentian University and a former Board Member of Contact North | Contact Nord, the Case Study examines key questions such as:

  • What are Contact North | Contact Nord’s main successes and how were they achieved?
  • What have we learned about public policy development and implementation in its wake?
  • What are the key lessons that are most relevant today?

The Case Study identifies three specific successes:

  1. Changing the Face of Education in Northern Ontario

Contact North | Contact Nord, in partnership with the region’s education and training providers, has made a huge difference to individuals in the most remote communities, bringing higher education to them, allaying their fears and apprehensions, and demystifying post-secondary education.

  1. Dramatically Increasing Participation in Post-Secondary Education

From just 1,522 registrations in its first year of operation, Contact North | Contact Nord generated and supported over 35,000 registrations in 2011-2012 from across Ontario.

  1. Extending Opportunities for Francophones and Aboriginals

Contact North | Contact Nord has made supporting local access to education and training in Francophone and Aboriginal communities a key priority.

Contact North: A Case Study in Public Policy, Lessons from the First 25 Years