This is page numbers 1111 - 1152 of the Hansard for the 19th Assembly, 2nd 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 going.

Topics

Question 319-19(2): Affirmative Action Policy
Oral Questions

Page 1124

The Speaker (Hon. Frederick Blake Jr) Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Kam Lake.

Question 320-19(2): Access to Education and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Oral Questions

June 10th, 2020

Page 1124

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. My questions today are for the Minister of Education, and I quickly realized today, while sitting here, that the Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes and I are on the same page. I can save the Minister a little bit of time today and let him know that there will be increased costs to schools for PPE. The expectation is for schools to have physical barriers, for them to be able to have face masks, for them to have increased cleaning in the schools, a potential for increased staffing needs if a teacher has a runny nose, which, if anybody here knows kids, runny noses in the fall and kids are kind of like peanut butter and jam; they just happen. There are going to be increased costs because of COVID for schools this fall. Will the Department of Education, Culture and Employment ensure that school boards have access to that money because we all know that they don't have enough money that they need in order to run schools the way that we all, as parents in the territory, expect them to be run today? Thank you.

Question 320-19(2): Access to Education and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Oral Questions

Page 1124

The Speaker (Hon. Frederick Blake Jr) Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.

Question 320-19(2): Access to Education and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Oral Questions

Page 1124

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. A lot of the things that the schools are doing won't cost extra money, but the Member is right that PPE is something that we didn't have before. You can make hallways one way and adjust drop-off times for students for free, but when it comes to PPE, then that is an issue. Right now, we are well on our way to providing schools with PPE. I am going to, obviously, find out what the needs are and go back to Cabinet and find out how we can support schools. I can't say what the final decision of the Financial Management Board is going to be, but like I have said before, I am here to support schools. I'm not going to leave them hanging. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 320-19(2): Access to Education and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Oral Questions

Page 1124

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

I'm happy to hear that, and I'm also happy to follow up with the Minister throughout the summer as he is able to work with the school boards. It was also brought to my attention that, in my constituency, and I am sure that this is consistent throughout the Northwest Territories, in the rush to get students set up at home, many of the schools emptied their resource and supply stashes so that children would have access to many learning items, whether it be books, markers, workbooks, anything they could get their hands on. Some kids even were able to go home with Chrome books. For the start of the school year in the fall, if students are in the schools, the schools are going to be starting with already a deficit of resources. I am wondering if the Minister would be willing to help the schools replenish those resource stashes and to count that as a COVID expense.

Question 320-19(2): Access to Education and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Oral Questions

Page 1124

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

It is my understanding that anything that can be counted as a COVID expense should be counted as a COVID expense. Then we're going to give the bill to the federal government, and hopefully, they pay. Like I said, we're trying to figure out what situation every single school is in. That's a process that we're undertaking right now, and then we can sit down and have these conversations. I am here to support the schools. Never once have I stood up here and said, "Schools need to pull themselves up by their boot straps." The Premier said this is going to be the most progressive government this territory's ever seen. While I can't commit money on the floor of the House, I can commit my support to working with the school boards and ensuring that they're taken care of.

Question 320-19(2): Access to Education and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Oral Questions

Page 1125

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

I am going to ask for some more money anyway. We live in a very small territory, and I have had the privilege of knowing many teachers who have also shared with me the PowerPoint presentation that they received from the Chief Public Health Officer. I have seen what the expectation is for kids going back to school this fall, and as a parent and as a resident of the Northwest Territories, I definitely have my own concerns. We know just from what we've heard around Canada, through COVID, that one of the expectations is going to be limited extra-curricular for students in their classrooms, and that's stuff like drama, gym class, being able to do any type of assemblies or anything like that. As a parent of three young kids, I have a lot of concern because I know that even us as adults in this room, we have a hard time sitting still. Expecting young kids to sit still for seven hours a day, I feel it just isn't realistic. I am wondering if the Minister is willing to commit additional on-the-land training for students this fall.

Question 320-19(2): Access to Education and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Oral Questions

Page 1125

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Like I said, I'm not the one who signs the cheques around here. I'm anxious to see what the schools have come up with because the Member is right. There are a lot of restrictions on what can be done. There is no singing in schools, which is one of the saddest things I can think about saying. There won't be any indoor sports. Things like that. We have to come up with some different ways of doing things. A lot of schools combine on-the-land activities with Indigenous language revitalization. One thing ECE has done is: they can carry over that unspent Indigenous language money from last year forward. There are things like that. The plans that the schools come up with are really going to dictate what they're going to need. From there, we can figure out how to best support them. Like I said before, I feel like the education Minister who has already lost a year of school, and I'm not going to lose another one. Whatever we can do to ensure the students have the best possible education given the situation, I'm willing to do.

Question 320-19(2): Access to Education and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Oral Questions

Page 1125

The Speaker (Hon. Frederick Blake Jr) Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Final supplementary. Member for Kam Lake.

Question 320-19(2): Access to Education and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Oral Questions

Page 1125

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I appreciate the Minister's response. My last question is a bit of a broad one, but I'm curious to see how the Minister will respond. We have had a lot of opportunity to really learn from COVID over the last three months, and to ask ourselves what we would do differently. What I would like to know from the Minister is what the Department of Education, Culture and Employment was able to learn from our last three months in COVID. Looking forward to a second wave, how would ECE better support school boards for a second wave, and how would they ensure that no child is left behind? Thank you.

Question 320-19(2): Access to Education and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Oral Questions

Page 1125

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

It is a big question and especially because the delivery of education is out of ECE's hand. It is so decentralized that it's the education bodies that are delivering education. If I could do anything, it would be to work harder to ensure that students were able to stay in school. I know there was a big desire to close schools, and rightfully so. I remember the night before, it was a Thursday night, I believe, and this Assembly was thinking, "What are we going to do? Should we just call things off?" That's what ended up happening. Essentially, the same thing with the schools. I think what I've learned personally that there are things that we can do to keep students in school because it is so important to have students in school. It's a safe space for them. For a lot of students, it's their only safe space. For a lot of students, it's where they get their meals, and developmentally, it's so important to them. The biggest takeaway I would get is figuring out how we can ensure that students stay in school, maintain those connections with teachers and friends in these times. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 320-19(2): Access to Education and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Oral Questions

Page 1125

The Speaker (Hon. Frederick Blake Jr) Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Question 321-19(2): Border Restrictions
Oral Questions

Page 1125

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions are for the Minister of Health and Social Services. In her statement today, the Minister said the change in implementing travel restrictions took place on May 29th. My first question is: why did it take until today for Regular Members to get formal notice of this? Thank you.

Question 321-19(2): Border Restrictions
Oral Questions

Page 1125

The Speaker (Hon. Frederick Blake Jr) Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife Centre. Minister of Health and Social Services.

Question 321-19(2): Border Restrictions
Oral Questions

Page 1125

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Like I said in my statement, the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer has been working hard, looking at putting together the Emerging Wisely plans, looking at each of the different phases, while in the meantime looking at border restrictions and putting in place some of the measures that have happened. I mentioned on May 27th the border enforcement stood down on refusing entry into the NWT for non-residents, and then we had to take into consideration the Canadian Charter of Freedoms. There are a number of things that have taken place. The Office of the Chief Public Health Officer has been working to ensure that, as changes come into place, we communicate that.