The new Algoma Central Corporation Marine Emergency Duties (MED) Centre has been officially opened at the Owen Sound Campus of Georgian College. The $7.5 million, 13,600-square-foot facility is a key part of the college’s Centre for Marine Training and Research. It will be used extensively by students enrolled in Georgian’s postsecondary marine programs as well as by working mariners who require certification or refresher training.

The building with an adjacent fire training facility includes classrooms, videoconferencing facilities, a lifeboat simulator, and other support facilities. The fire training facility simulates on-ship fire emergency environments generating flames and smoke. Liferaft, lifeboat and immersion suit training are offered in a nearby pool and harbour facilities in Owen Sound.

MED training is mandatory for anyone who works on a ship in Canada. After several years without a marine emergency duties training facility in Ontario, mariners will no longer need to travel to Canada’s east or west coasts to obtain this certification. Life-saving training includes firefighting, survival craft, life raft and immersion suit training, as well as first aid.

The federal government provided $1.96 million through the Small Communities Fund for the project, and the province of Ontario also contributed $1.96 million to this project. Grey County Council was the first to pledge financial support, in the amount of $2 million, recognizing in part the significant economic importance to the region. Several companies active in the marine industry – who will train their work force at the centre – made substantial donations to help ensure the facility would become a reality. The centre is named for Algoma Central Corporation, which became the largest private donor to the project with its donation of $1 million. The common area in the centre is named in recognition of Lower Lakes Towing Ltd., which also made a donation of $500,000.

Ken Bloch Soerensen, President and CEO of Algoma Central Corporation commented that “Marine Emergency Duties training is critical to our industry and we are pleased to help make this training available in Ontario, where it has been absent since 2013. Fleet renewal has been a priority for our company but equally as important, we need to invest in training our current and future personnel to ensure our shipping operations flourish.”

Eric McKenzie, VP Technical Services at Lower Lakes Towing added that “The new Marine Emergency Duties Centre ensures shipping companies have a one-stop shop for quality marine programs and training in Ontario at Georgian College’s Owen Sound Campus. Our company is proud to participate in and support this important project, which is a great example of partnership.  A need was identified for current and future employees of the marine industry to be properly trained in Marine Emergency Duties. Georgian College, government and industry have worked together to make this a reality.  This is an investment which aligns to our commitment to safety, our employees, our customers and operational excellence while addressing our industry’s needs today and into the future.”

Georgian offers two full-time postsecondary marine co-op programs – a two-year diploma as Marine Engineering Technician and a three-year advanced diploma in Marine Technology-Navigation. A one-year graduate certificate in Marine Engineering Management is offered for those seeking advanced training in the marine industry. The Centre for Marine Training and Research also provides training for working mariners, with 2,400 course registrations in the past year alone.