This is page numbers 431 - 469 of the Hansard for the 13th Assembly, 7th Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was chairman.

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Further Return To Question 154-13(7): Graduation Rate Increases
Question 154-13(7): Graduation Rate Increases
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 435

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, possibly later today we are going to be getting into a detailed examination of the budget where I will have the officials, and all those budget figures with me to be able to address those questions. In fact they are listening right now, and they will be able to address all the questions the Member may have in terms of the specific detail and the numbers, the students, the breakdown, the percentage of budget spent on adult education. Once again we would be prepared to do that to the level that the Members wish when we appear later today for our budget. Thank you.

Further Return To Question 154-13(7): Graduation Rate Increases
Question 154-13(7): Graduation Rate Increases
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 435

The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

Oral questions, Mrs. Groenewegen.

Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 435

Jane Groenewegen Hay River

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, my questions are for the Premier, Mr. Antoine. Mr. Speaker, many people across our territory are asking for more money for education and we have a tremendous amount of infrastructure and demands on our funds. We have been through quite a deficit and cost-cutting exercise already in the last few years and whenever we talk about more money for education it always get thrown back to us well, where would you like to take it from? It is hard to find any sizable pocket of money anywhere, in one particular source. What I would like to ask the Premier is, could the Cabinet consider and would it be conceivable that we could look at our budget as a whole, look at every department and what would be the impact of shaving even 1 or 1.5 percent off of every department to put a real boost and an injection of funding into the Department of Education, Culture and Employment? Is something like that even possible, has it ever been considered? Thank you.

Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 435

The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

Mr. Premier, Mr. Antoine.

Return To Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 435

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the request of the honourable Member for Hay River is to re-look at our whole budget and redo the base of each department to increase the base of education. That is basically what her question is, and the question was to see whether this sort of thing has been done. My answer is no, we have not done that, although there is a process that we follow. We all learn this process once we get into this House, the whole business plan process. It starts now for next year. To do it for this current budget would be impossible to do, with a lot of discussion we could probably look at the next year's budget. I guess that is the only way we could deal with it.

The other way of doing it is if we somehow or other get into a new source of revenue, like the honourable Member mentioned, that if we get into a huge pot of money some place, then that is where we would probably look at injecting into the base of the Department of Education, Culture and Employment to boost the whole problem of education. No, we have not done it for this year, we have not even talked about it. I think we are just going through the whole process right now which was started last spring and is only now coming to its conclusion. The way to do it would be for the next year, to start perhaps now and start looking at the whole process. Thank you.

Return To Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 435

The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

Oral questions. Supplementary, Mrs. Groenewegen.

Supplementary To Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 435

Jane Groenewegen Hay River

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I hear the Premier saying that if we were going to do something like taking a percentage of every department across the board and injecting it into education, we would have to look at that for not this fiscal year but the next fiscal year. Would the Premier foresee that as having too dire an impact on other departments, for a percentage reduction, such as something like 1 percent across every department? Thank you.

Supplementary To Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 435

The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

Mr. Premier.

Further Return To Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 436

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the line of questioning of the honourable Member cuts right to the heart of the whole budget process and, as Members in the Cabinet, we have not really talked about it. I guess that might be an option, but it is an option that would be pretty hard to do because we are talking about cutting existing programs that are being provided by the departments and every department would have to look at what they are providing in terms of programs and services and what are they willing to cut. Basically, that is what it means, and I do not think we have talked about it or even thought about it, but we know that this is one way of dealing with the problem of shortage of funding in education. Thank you.

Further Return To Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 436

The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

Oral questions. Supplementary, Mrs. Groenewegen.

Supplementary To Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 436

Jane Groenewegen Hay River

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, when we are questioned in our constituencies and by people who contact us from all over the north about this very pressing need of education, what can the Premier tell us that we can tell people? What is the prognosis of there being more funding from other revenue-generating sources in the near future? Thank you.

Supplementary To Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 436

The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

Mr. Premier.

Further Return To Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 436

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as everybody knows, we have been discussing the Agenda for the New North since the new year and in this agenda we are dealing with the realities that are facing us. We are looking at the bigger picture, not necessarily only at education, but all the different programs and services that all need additional funding. We have a fiscal arrangement with the federal government right now that provides us $700 million a year. From there, each department historically is allocated their share to run the programs and services of the department. We realize that we have a limited amount of dollars, limited opportunities to raise our own revenue, but we have to look at that. In the Agenda for the New North, we address that. We look at the fiscal reality of the day and say that, okay, we know 70 percent of our budget goes to social programs, including education. There is a tremendous amount of pressure there to enforce growth and there are demands on our existing budget.

What do we do about it? In the agenda we are saying that we have to look at trying to generate our own revenue, which is very difficult to do with the type of formula we have. We have to try to make arrangements with the federal government to change the tax window, so we can grab more of the percentage of the new dollar that we generate. At the same time, we are also trying to create an environment here in the north with all the different groups that are involved in the north about sharing control of our own resources. That is the direction that this government is taking in trying to create an opportunity there where we could generate perhaps additional revenue to address the real pressing problems we have in that fiscal arrangement.

That is the direction we are going, and every time I travel to different communities and meet with different chiefs and different mayors, village, town and city councils, we are addressing this issue on a much broader scale. That is where we see some possible new arrangements being made with the federal government. Perhaps what the honourable Members could do is help us express our concern about our present situation. We are okay for now, but down the road in about a year or two we are going to be in a situation where we have to start perhaps looking at deficits and so forth. We do not want to do that. We are talking about this new agenda today so that perhaps things will evolve over the next year or so, so we will be able to have a bigger tax window and our fiscal policy, perhaps will be further down the line, and the Northern Accord and the whole question of devolution. Thank you.

Further Return To Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 436

The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

Oral questions. Supplementary, Mrs. Groenewegen.

Supplementary To Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Question 155-13(7): Additional Funding For Education Programs
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 436

Jane Groenewegen Hay River

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate the Premier's response but you know, Mr. Speaker, it is hard to tell parents that there is no money for education because of the demands on our budget when it seems that we are even taken by surprise, who are involved in this budget process, by announcements that come from departments.

There still is largesse in this government as far as the public is concerned. I mean, the former Finance Minister tried to convince us we needed a $500,000 economic strategy. We did not have any say on where that money came from. The former Housing Minister announced $4 million for the MDAP program, which you might as well have taken $10,000 bills to the top of the Anderson Thomson tower and threw them off and whoever caught them, that is about how directed that $4 million was.

So, we tell people there are demands on our budget, we have no money, and yet we keep spending money on things which are, I do not know if it is discretionary departmental spending, or whatever, but it is very hard to reconcile the spending of this government with the claims that we make that we have no money for education. That is not a question, I do not know if the Premier has a comment for that or not, but we are not involved in that level of detail in the budget, so...