WINNIPEG -- Red River College has announced that it is suspending six programs and reducing the capacity for two others.

In an email to staff at the school obtained by CTV News, Dr. Christine Watson, who is the vice-president, academic at the college, said the school reviewed its academic programs as part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic to "ensure organizational, academic and financial sustainability."

The programs that are suspended include:

  • Both the diploma and certificate course for cabinetry and woodworking technology;
  • Introduction to electrical engineering technology certificate;
  • Introduction to aircraft maintenance engineer;
  • Advanced care paramedic diploma; and
  • Library technology diploma.

The programs that will be reduced are Intro to Trades, and Welding certificate.

"These program changes will not disrupt students who are continuing their studies in these areas. However, new students who had hoped to start these programs this fall will be impacted," said Watson in the email.

She said affected students will be contacted. She also said due to the changes, some staff members were let go.

"We have made every effort to minimize job loss through vacancy management and re-assignments to other important projects. These are very tough decisions to make, and I want to recognize the important contributions that the affected employees have made to the College."

Watson said in the email that even without the pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic, it remains important for the college to regularly review the programs that are being offered.

"This is part of our regular operations and is very important in ensuring that we continue to stay relevant and agile for industry," Watson wrote. "Some of the suspended programs, such as Cabinetry and Woodworking, will be undergoing renewal to reflect industry changes."

In regards to the advanced care paramedic diploma, a spokesperson for the college said the program was created to develop support for rural and regional areas but it was put on "pause" to talk further with health care partners.

"Throughout the next year, conversations with Shared Health and WFPS are planned to review paramedic training needs and prepare for the future of Advanced Care Paramedicine in Manitoba. We know that our students and graduates have an important role to play in delivering paramedic care in our province and we must make every effort to ensure our programs are benefiting graduates and meeting the needs of the community," the spokesperson said in an email to CTV News.

The spokesperson added despite the suspension of the programs, the school is working on new programs which include a digital film and media production post-graduate diploma, a communications management post-graduate diploma, a game development advanced diploma, and an information security diploma.

"Programs change at the College from year to year to reflect changing industry and labour market needs," they said.