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
Yes, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am pleased to introduce Bill 19, An Act to Amend the Student Financial Assistance Act. The purpose of this legislation is to increase the aggregate amount that a student is eligible to borrow under the Student Financial Assistance program.
The current aggregate amount that a student is eligible to borrow under the Student Financial Assistance Act is $47,000. The amendment proposes to increase this amount to $60,000. This change will allow the Department of Education, Culture and Employment to increase benefit levels under the SFA program by raising the monthly repayable loan limit from $1,100 to $1,400. This will mean that students in a typical eight-month program will see benefit levels increase from $8,800 to $11,200 per academic year.
We trust that the members of the committee will agree that this amendment is appropriate and will benefit northern students.
Mr. Chairman, I will be pleased to answer any questions the members of the committee may have.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The existing members of the Labour Standards Board will be considered adjudicators by the terms of this bill. So their appointments continue automatically as sole adjudicators. We are hoping that they are prepared to continue to act as adjudicators so that we can take advantage of the experience and knowledge that they have already gained on the job. The expectation will be that there will be regular training sessions for adjudicators, offering them a chance to come together so they get to know each other and meet face to face at least annually for training sessions and that would facilitate not only the training that they would be expected to get, but for them to get to know each other so that they are comfortable in cases where they may want to seek another opinion of an adjudicator; they're comfortable phoning or meeting with another adjudicator to discuss the case. I mean there's no reason that that couldn't happen, should an adjudicator wish to seek counsel from somebody else who is also an adjudicator in our system. So we expect that through collegial contact, through training, that we will ensure that people still have the ability to work together, if necessary, in order to get the job done better.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Just on one of the points that Mr. Braden was making, or just to provide some clarification perhaps, Nunavut is the only other jurisdiction in Canada that still uses legislation to set minimum wage. So in this change we are expecting that we are making it easier for the government to make smaller changes more regularly, which we think is a more appropriate way in which to handle this. I would expect that the government would annually take a look at what has been happening across the board with wages and embark on a process of consulting with chambers of commerce and trade unions about potentially changing the minimum wage.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Yes, the expectation was that there would be some public discussion about that issue. One manner might be, for instance, to take a stab at a draft of what the regulation might look like and then go out and ask people have we got it right. That process is not dissimilar from what was undertaken in the first place and I think worked fairly well to stimulate discussion.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The reason this has been written this way is to recognize that the definition of family may be different in the North than what you might find elsewhere and while the family has been defined under compassionate leave pretty much along the way that it is now recognized by the federal government, that's been done just to ensure that where employment insurance would kick in, it's a consistent definition here for us; but under bereavement leave, the expectation is that we will have a definition that is much broader, recognizing the northern reality or a broader understanding of what makes up a family and ensuring the people are a broader range of family members then able to take bereavement leave that might be the case for compassionate leave.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. After the bill is passed, the intention is to bring it into force as quickly as possible. So the consultation is planned for this fall.
Thank you, Mr. Chair. One of the reasons that it's being left to regulations is that it allows that consultation to take place, but the Construction Association will be involved in the consultative process, yes.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm advised that the department was aware of the original submission put in by the Construction Association. The intention is to make sure that the definitions are clarified and not substantively changed over what is currently understood by the definitions.
Perhaps, Madam Chair, I could have Mr. Barbour answer that question.
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