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 316-19(2): Enforceable Benefits from Resource Development
Oral Questions

Page 1121

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

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.

Question 317-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Funds for Education
Oral Questions

Page 1121

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions are for the Minister of ECE. As I am aware that the department is working about the District Education Authorities on their plans for reopening in the fall, today, there was an article released by CBC that the DECs were not informed about the decision that they have to fund from within COVID supplies. I hope this is not the case, as they don't have the budget. My question is: is the DEC responsible to cover this cost? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 317-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Funds for Education
Oral Questions

Page 1121

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

Thank you, Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes. Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.

Question 317-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Funds for Education
Oral Questions

Page 1121

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Every single day, there are meetings between the assistant deputy minister of education and culture and all of the superintendents in the Northwest Territories. Every two weeks, I meet with the education leaders, the chairs of the 10 DEAs and DECs in the territory, and there is constant communication. We always make sure that we let the education bodies know what we are thinking, and we always want to know what they are thinking because, the way education is in the territory, it is so decentralized that we have to collaborate.

In terms of the costs, where we are right now is figuring out how we're going to reopen schools. The Chief Public Health Officer released a document that outlined how schools should be run in terms of the safety precautions that need to be taken, what sort of PPE is needed, what sort of distancing is needed, class sizes, and things like that. Since the day that that was released, ECE has been working with the education bodies to figure out how that could be implemented in the upcoming school year. I believe every school now has completed a plan. The Chief Public Health Officer is going to look at two of those plans, one from a big school and one from a small school, give feedback, and from there we can figure out if there will be extra costs. Then we can start talking about costs, but right now, we're not even at that point. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 317-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Funds for Education
Oral Questions

Page 1121

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

In the way that this has been rolling out, it's been so quick with COVID. It's not the schools' fault that COVID happened, either. I'm just wondering: if the department is going to be working with the DECs, will they have to cover the cost initially? How is this going to work? I know the Minister says it's not, but there has to be some kind of idea. Are they going to provide money, advanced money, or are they going to use within and bill back to the Department of Finance or wherever this COVID fund is? Are there COVID relief funds for schools?

Question 317-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Funds for Education
Oral Questions

Page 1121

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

To the specific question: are there COVID relief funds? No. Those would have to come through this House, and that hasn't happened yet. Our budget, our main estimates, which we passed yesterday, that document was finalized before anyone had an idea that COVID was even coming to North America. There is nothing in there, and nothing has been in the supplementary estimates yet. However, we have allocated the full amount for the year to schools, so I don't think it's urgent that, on day one, we need to start making payments or deal with this because that entire amount is going to be available to them.

We're not going to leave schools hanging. That's the bottom line here. Students have had a rough break these past few months, and we need to make sure that they get back on track. We need to make sure that schools are supported. We're all in this together. ECE is in it with the education councils, and we're going to work together to make sure that what needs to get done gets done.

Question 317-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Funds for Education
Oral Questions

Page 1122

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Before I arrived here, I wore a different hat. I'm very familiar with the Beaufort-Delta and the sizes of the schools and the number of students, and I'm very familiar with Inuvik East Three Elementary. We have a new school. Junior kindergarten got implemented. They took over the music room, the computer room. We have no space in that new school with junior kindergarten numbers, and I don't know where they calculate they can fit students in. We have on average about 450 students coming into our school in the fall that is already tight-fitted. How is the Department of ECE going to ensure that these students have proper-fitting PPE going into the fall?

Question 317-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Funds for Education
Oral Questions

Page 1122

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

That's a good question about proper-fitting PPE. We can't just say students have to wear PPE and then not have stuff that fits them. Those are conversations that are happening right now. In terms of just PPE in general, ECE has received, I can't recall the numbers, but thousands of pieces of PPE have already been donated that are going out to the schools. The boxes of them are sitting here downtown right now. We're working on that. The Emergency Management Organization is procuring PPE for all government departments, including ECE. I can get back to the Member on those details because I have to say I don't have those exact details. It's a good question, and it's something we're going to have to work on.

Question 317-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Funds for Education
Oral Questions

Page 1122

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

Thank you, Minister. Final supplementary, Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.

Question 317-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Funds for Education
Oral Questions

Page 1122

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to ask the Minister of ECE to collaborate with ITI. I know that there was money available for supplies. As a past nurse, knowing that PPE is one-size-fits-all, so with little kids in junior kindergarten, they're not going to fit general PPE masks and gloves and things if they're going to need that. Can the Minister work with the Minister of ITI to maybe create some jobs in my community and in the rest of the Northwest Territories communities to maybe have some people sewing some masks and get on it in the summer and get some for the schools so that they can come up with a plan on how to do this? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 317-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Funds for Education
Oral Questions

Page 1122

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

I do have the numbers about the PPE that have been donated. There have been 3,000 face shields donated. Those are going to be worn by the adults in the school, so that will be a couple each. Then 20,000 face cloth masks have been donated, and those come in various sizes for students. That being said, there will need to be more, so I'm happy to work with the Minister of ITI and figure out how we can do that and create some local employment. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 317-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Funds for Education
Oral Questions

Page 1122

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

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Monfwi.

Question 318-19(2): Replacement of Chief Jimmy Bruneau School
Oral Questions

June 10th, 2020

Page 1122

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Masi, Mr. Speaker. [Translation] As I spoke in my Member's statement earlier, when Chief Jully Bruneau asked for a school, that was about 50 years ago. Again, today, I ask about Education, Culture and Employment that is under education [End of translation] ...for a new school in our community of Behchoko. I would like to ask questions to the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment about his capital plans for a community school. The first question I have for the Minister is: what criteria does his department use for deciding whether to build a new school or simply rehabilitate an existing building? Masi, Mr. Speaker.

Question 318-19(2): Replacement of Chief Jimmy Bruneau School
Oral Questions

Page 1122

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

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

Question 318-19(2): Replacement of Chief Jimmy Bruneau School
Oral Questions

Page 1122

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. That's a technical question. What happens is that there is an evaluation of the school done, the structure of it, and a determination made of whether or not it would be more cost effective to retrofit the school or rebuild it. When I say "retrofit," I don't mean just patch it up. I know that the Member said that in his statement, "patch it up." The school I went to, the school that my father went to, is 50 years old. It just got a retrofit, and it looks brand new. It's not just a patch job here and there; it's a full-on renovation. That determination is made on whether the school can safely be retrofitted or not. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.