Ontario Supports Virtual Learning at Conestoga College, University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University

Published on May 27, 2021

Province provides more access to on-line courses and retraining opportunities



May 27, 2021


WATERLOO REGION – The Ontario government is providing nearly $ 3 million to support 36 innovative virtual learning projects at Conestoga College, University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University to help provide students with more choice and access to high-quality postsecondary education and retraining opportunities.


“Today’s funding will help Waterloo Region’s three postsecondary institutions develop online curriculums that reflect their world-class reputations as leading colleges and universities,” said Mike Harris, MPP for Kitchener-Conestoga. “Increasing virtual course offerings will provide an opportunity for the next generation of workers, innovators, researchers, and leaders to get the skills and training they need to succeed in their fields, when and where they need it.”


"Virtual learning opportunities offered by Waterloo Region's postsecondary institutions will provide students with more flexibility and access to top-notch programs. This investment will benefit students for years to come as they develop the career skills they desire while learning from home,” said Amy Fee, MPP for Kitchener South-Hespeler.


The projects are part of the province’s Virtual Learning Strategy announced last December and support key priority areas that include creating or adapting digital content, equipping faculty and students with skills and resources to teach and learn online and identifying educational technologies to support online courses and programs. Projects include:


  • The University of Waterloo’s partnership with the University of Ottawa and Western University, which aims to create simulated reality experiments in their organic chemistry labs to introduce students to standard equipment, procedures and experiments.

  • Wilfrid Laurier University’s development of training for emergency social workers online through coursework that analyzes the challenges of social service delivery during COVID-19 and presents learners with an understanding of how to deliver online services in ways that are responsive and beneficial.


  • Conestoga College’s creation of game simulations for health office administrators will provide learners the opportunity to practice their therapeutic communication skills in a variety of health communication situations through game-based decision-making scenarios in a safe learning environment.


The province is investing more than $70 million to implement Ontario’s Virtual Learning Strategy, including $21.4 million announced in the 2021 Ontario Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy. Locally, Conestoga College will receive $702,764 for 9 projects, the University of Waterloo will split $1,462,016 amongst 19 projects and $778,180 will go to Wilfrid Laurier University for 8 projects.


“Ensuring that Ontario’s postsecondary institutions offer responsive and flexible digital courses and programs will help students build the skills and competencies they need to be competitive in today’s economy,” said Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “Our Virtual Learning Strategy is aimed at creating a platform that will allow all post-secondary institutions to compete in the new and necessary environment of learning from home.”


The Ontario government is transforming virtual learning across the province by supporting nearly 400 innovative projects at colleges, universities and Indigenous Institutes.




"As we’ve seen from the past year, online and virtual learning are key components in the future of education. Waterloo is committed to transforming how we teach and learn, and to educating global citizens who are able to thrive in an age of rapid change. Thank you to Minister Romano and the Government of Ontario for this funding, which will ensure that Waterloo can share its extensive experience in online learning, explore new avenues for providing engaging learning opportunities and aid other institutions and community members.”

Feridun Hamdullahpur, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Waterloo


“Laurier has an important role to play in our communities as we work together to recover from the pandemic and support those looking to change careers or enhance their skills. This support from the province allows us to expand more of our curriculum online to prepare our students for success no matter what opportunities lay ahead.”


 Dr. Deborah MacLatchy, President and Vice-Chancellor, Wilfrid Laurier University


"We appreciate the province’s investment in this important digital innovation initiative that will enrich both new and existing programming and enhance the learning experience for college students across Ontario. Increased access to high quality digital learning resources will play an important role in developing more graduates with the skills and knowledge to contribute to Ontario’s economic recovery and well-being now and into the future.”


John Tibbits, President of Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning.