Former board members of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine want to see the institution become fully independent after Laurentian University’s recent financial troubles.

Former mayor of Thunder Bay and area MP Ken Boshcoff, former Sudbury mayor Jim Gordon and Angele Brunelle, executive director for L’Accueil francophone de Thunder Bay, released a statement last month saying they want to see the medical school become an independent university and not have to rely on Laurentian and Lakehead Universities to grant its degrees.

NOSM was established as a solution to Northern Ontario’s doctor shortage. It maintains independent finances, administration and its own board of directors.

“In light of what is happening at Laurentian University, why isn’t the government taking measures to protect NOSM and ensure that it continues to thrive as an independent, viable medical school in the North,” the letter asks.

The medical school has partnerships with 90 communities in Northern Ontario and has produced more than 700 doctors and more than 570 residents who have completed NOSM programs. More than half of these health-care professionals are practising in Northern Ontario.

“None of us would have predicted this situation when NOSM was founded 16 years ago but we cannot sit idle watching a critical health-care strategy be derailed because it is not truly autonomous,” said the former board members in their letter. “We call upon the government to step in and grant NOSM university status so it may thrive in its social accountability mandate and address the critical health disparities in the North.”