Last in the Legislative Assembly September 2007, as MLA for Frame Lake
Won his last election, in 2003, with 63% of the vote.
Statements in the House
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The first item that the Member was talking about in terms of attracting people to smaller communities, we already provide remission at a higher rate to nurses who have gone through the program here and are willing to work in our small communities. So we recognize the student financial assistance and remission rates can play a role in recruitment and have taken that to heart and are doing that.
In terms of Education, Culture and Employment remissing loans to a different government, that would be outside of our mandate. But I take the Member's point that it may be something that the government should consider in terms of a recruitment, so I would be happy to have the Minister of Human Resources talk to the Minister of Health and Social Services to see whether or not they would be prepared to consider such an approach.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. No, we've been quietly letting people know that the expectation of this will be in place this year and once the bill is passed, we'll make sure it is well publicized amongst students so there is that awareness. There were some students who were running up against that $47,000 limit and we have been letting them know it was in the works and it will be in effect this year.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The best indicator we have on immediate returns is the number of students who are achieving remissions on their loans and that is almost all of them. So we know that most students come back in the first instance to qualify for remission and do stay in the Territories through the remission of their loans.
We do also an occasional survey to try to follow up with people who have received funding to attend post-secondary institutions. While I don't have those numbers with me, we have tabled in the past the post-secondary indicator book and that is available on our website, which does provide follow-up information. So we do regular surveys of students to see how many are still in the North.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We do fairly well on collecting on debts. The Department of Education, Culture and Employment doesn't directly follow up with people who are having trouble making their payments. We hand them over to FMBS and that's the collection agency within government. So I can't speak to how well they resolve that. Judging from what we see in the write-off of debts bills, I don't think we are doing too badly, given the amount of money we are lending to students. We are always going to wind up with people who run into economic trouble and because of that, we are going to have some debts that go bad. But in general, this has proven to be a very worthwhile investment in northerners and in getting northerners educated. So we think it's a worthwhile investment.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As I say, it's an application-based fund. So a student can fill out an application form and from that application form, it will be determined if they qualify for some of this repayable loan funding. The sort of factors that come into play are children and childcare costs, the cost of a program that is being taken and the Member talked about whether there is any money in the bank. There is an assumption with the SFA program that you will earn some money during the summer break. So that sort of expectation is factored into the calculations. It is a formula that is determined by the responses on the application form and that sets out how much money is available then to people from this fund.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Yes, this money could be available for use after a student has gone through the first 12 or eight or whatever semesters they qualify for. But as I said, it could also be available to students who may be single parents that may have higher costs. So it's available right off the bat, if necessary, to those who have needs.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. That's correct. It's not necessarily something that follows on after a student has used up all of their 12 semesters if they qualify for 12 semesters of remissible funding. There are many students who access needs assessed funding. This funding is all needs assessed. You have to apply for the money and demonstrate a need for it, but that can be available to you beginning in the first semester if you have a need for the extra funding. So this money is over and above the basic grant and the remissible loans, yes.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The remissible loan program is something separate from the repayable loan program.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The department needs to, on a regular basis, ensure that our program is in line with getting a graduate or post-graduate degree. So I think it is imperative that this sort of change take place on a regular basis. I expect that it would probably be a good idea to take a look, as we just did with the Employment Standards Act, making it possible for the government to make this change in regulation rather than come back to the House and do it in legislation.
It wasn't something we had time to do in the life of this government, but it is something that should be considered for future governments. Our program currently does fund post-graduate studies. Somebody who has gone to school in the Northwest Territories is entitled to 12 semesters of study. That means that you are covered with the remission program all the way up to the first six full years of study. Then subsequent to that, there are the loan programs available. The expectation is that somebody taking one of those programs for lawyers or for doctors, they are going to have earning potential to be able to pay back at the higher levels. We've made it relatively easy to get their first six years of study.
I take the Member's point. All of our programs need to be looked at on a regular basis to ensure that we are achieving the goal of ensuring that northerners have good access to programs and are encouraged to come back.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. On my left, I have Ms. Melody McLeod, director of income security, Education, Culture and Employment; on my right is Mr. Ian Rennie, legislative counsel, Department of Justice.
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