The Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) has launched an online and distance training facility, providing training courses to people throughout the NWT through video conferences.
There are four regional centres spread throughout the territory in Inuvik, Norman Wells, Fort Smith, Fort Simpson, along with three in Yellowknife.
Each centre has its own modem that connects to Toronto, where people can live stream training courses and participate on the spot.
The facilities are equipped with multiple cameras throughout the room with the video feeds projected on a screen.
Participants can change between cameras and facilitate group discussions by sharing what’s on their own computer screen.
Outside of the designated facilities, participants can also access videoconferences at home through their own networks, though MACA says that can lead to a video delay.
MACA Minister Caroline Cochrane says the program is meant to reduce travel costs for trainees who would otherwise have to travel to Yellowknife, and help reach people from every community.
“It means that the communities will actually be able to save money,” Cochrane said.
“There won’t be the travel cost for people coming up anymore. It means that we’ll be able to offer our courses more fluidly because it is online so it won’t have to be structured where you have to come in and have a facilitator.
“This is all about meeting community needs and being more flexible so that we can offer services in a better way, more effective and more efficient to people.”
Cochrane admitted that the ‘new’ video conference technology was around when she went to school about 20 years ago, and said she’s excited for it to be adopted in the North.
The centres cost $200,000 to set up at the Northwestel building in Yellowknife.
With the videoconference tool not requiring instructors to travel to Yellowknife for seminars, a cost that would be covered by the department, MACA says the technology will pay for itself within a year.
“It will save a lot of money, it’ll provide better quality, more accessible training to all the communities, to our Aboriginal governments and our municipal governments, and that is the main priority,” Cochrane said.