Trudeau was well received by the students and the faculty. Students were trying to get a picture with the Prime Minister after the event. Photo credit: Arty Sarkisian

It’s “incredibly inspiring” that students are getting into nursing after the “crazy difficult year of COVID,” Justin Trudeau said during a meeting with Algonquin College’s nursing students on Friday.

“We were seeing all the challenges in our healthcare system, all the gaps. Each of you decided that you wanted to be a part of serving and helping your fellow Canadians,” Trudeau said.

This was the first time Trudeau visited Algonquin College as prime minister. He last visited the college during the election campaign in 2014.

“It’s an opportunity for me to sit down with all of you and talk about your future and our future, collectively as a country,” Trudeau said.

During an hour-long talk students asked questions on health care, education, immigration and mental health.

“I think because of the health care crisis and the pandemic, he’s very interested in ensuring that those who are moving into the workforce are well supported. And he wanted to hear what the nursing students had to say,” said Jane Trakalo, the dean for the Faculty of Health, Safety and Community Studies.

The Prime Minister’s Office contacted the college on Monday this week. For security issues, no information was published prior to the event.

“We got an email very late last night,” said Brenda Rodriguez, a second-year nursing student. “They just said some kind of minister was coming. We didn’t know it was the prime minister.”

Events with guest speakers are usually well-advertised in advance, according to Farbod Karimi, chair of Learning and Teaching Services.

“When we have events, we usually know about them ahead of time. We like to know who comes, if Claude (Brulé, the president of the college) is available, things like that,” Karimi said.

Trudeau was well-received by the students and faculty.

“I really enjoyed it (the event). He is a very friendly person,” said Rodriguez.

“I think it was an exceptional event,” Trakalo said. “I think any time anyone has the opportunity to speak directly to the prime minister. (It) is fabulous.”