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Ontario Supporting Learners and Jobseekers Wherever They Are

Press Release

Contact North | Contact Nord’s online learning centres providing flexible access to virtual training for rewarding careers

December 09, 2022

MIDLAND — The Ontario government is providing over $4.7 million to Contact North | Contact Nord, giving learners in underserved communities flexible access to innovative virtual learning and training opportunities. This investment supports 13 online learning centres equipped with Extended Reality (XR) technology, and a laptop and internet loaner program.

“By continuing to invest in ground-breaking virtual programs and technologies that remove barriers to learning, we are giving jobseekers in every corner of the province a fair chance to acquire the skills needed to compete in the labour market,” said Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “This funding will provide learners living in small, rural, remote, Indigenous and Francophone communities with access to virtual ‘hands-on’ training to position them for success in the workforce.”

Contact North | Contact Nord operates 78 online learning centres across the province, offering students access to computer workstations, web and video conferencing, learning management systems, as well as exam supervision. Thirteen centres were recently upgraded to offer XR technology.

These centres collaborate with education and training providers to develop virtual work-integrated learning opportunities. For example, Contact North | Contact Nord has partnered with White River Forest Products to set up a mobile simulator that provides on-site training using XR technologies for heavy equipment operators. This virtual ‘hands-on’ initiative enables participants to learn how to operate heavy equipment without any physical risk while staying in their home communities.

The government’s investment also supports a laptop and internet loaner program launched in May 2022 as part of the province’s Virtual Learning Strategy. Over 500 internet modems and 1,200 laptops, equipped with education and training software, are available through the program. The technology is free to borrow and can be accessed at any Contact North | Contact Nord learning centre or through their student information hotline.

This support builds on the government’s ongoing efforts to position Ontario as a global leader in postsecondary education, with flexible virtual learning opportunities that help all learners acquire the skills and training needed to compete in the labour market.

Quick Facts

  • Contact North | Contact Nord is a community-based, bilingual distance education and training network that helps underserved residents in over 1,300 small, rural, remote, Indigenous and Francophone communities access education and training without leaving their communities.
  • Contact North | Contact Nord runs 78 online learning centres located in communities across Ontario that deliver services in both English and French. Thirty-five centres are located in French-designated areas and over 13 centres are in Indigenous communities.
  • Over 700 learners have accessed services through Contact North | Contact Nord’s 13 XR-equipped centres since 2021.
  • Funding to set up Contact North | Contact Nord’s 13 online learning centres with XR technology was provided through the Canada-Ontario Workforce Development Agreement.
  • Ontario has invested over $70 million in the Virtual Learning Strategy to support over 450 learning projects that include simulations, games and Extended Reality experiences.


“Contact North | Contact Nord thanks Minister Dunlop and the Government of Ontario for their investment in the Extended Reality (XR) technology and the laptop and internet loaner programs. These programs provide local access to education and training for Ontarians living in rural and remote parts of the province to help them prepare for the jobs of today and tomorrow.”

– Maxim Jean-Louis
President, Chief Executive Officer, Contact North | Contact Nord

“The simulators are integral to our operations to ensure employee safety when operating machinery as well as to ensure they have the necessary skills to operate machinery effectively and efficiently. With the initial pilot employees, within one hour on the simulators, we saw immediate growth in their skills, comfort level and ability to virtually operate the machinery and improve their skill levels. We look forward to expanding the rollout of the pilot simulations and sharing our experiences with others challenged with employing skilled heavy equipment operators.”

– Melissa Jones
Health and Safety and Human Resources Superintendent, White River Forest Products

“I am already a caregiver and am hoping to learn how to be a better one, and I am totally impressed with Contact North. I am technologically challenged and find it very hard to use a laptop. I called for help and the technical support was amazing. He was very patient with me and was able to help me get the laptop up and running. It is a great program that I would recommend to anybody.”

– Nadine Wiebe
Health care student and Contact North | Contact Nord client

Additional Resources

Related Topics

Education and Training

Learn about Ontario’s early years, education and training systems. Includes information on child care, elementary schools, secondary schools, colleges, universities, skills training and financial aid. Learn more

Media Contacts

Liz Tuomi
Minister’s Office
[email protected]

Tanya Blazina
Communications Branch

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1 800 268-7095


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