The Committee met at 7:00 p.m. in the House of Assembly.

CHAIR (Mr. Ridgley): Order, please!

The lights are on, so we are ready to go; at least the lights are on up here. I am told by the Clerk that the elections which took place last session carry over into this section, so I will be acting as Chair for the Social Service Committee, and the Vice-Chair is Mr. Roland Butler. Those elections carry on into this session.

To start off, I will just ask people, starting with the minister, to introduce themselves. We sent down a schematic of where people are sitting but if you are a new speaker I would ask that you introduce yourself, just to assist the people downstairs.


MS BURKE: Joan Burke.

MS MacLELLAN: Heather MacLellan.

MS COCHRANE: Rachelle Cochrane, I am ADM for Advanced Education with the Department of Education.

MR. DENINE: Dave Denine, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Education only.

MS FUSHELL: Good evening. Marian Fushell, Assistant Deputy Minister for K to 12 programming.

MR. THOMPSON: Jack Thompson, Director of Financial Services.

MS HOWARD: Jacqueline Howard, Director of Communications.

MR. HAYWARD: Rick Hayward, ADM for Corporate Services.

CHAIR: Now the Committee members; I guess we can start here with Mr. Ball.

MR. BALL: Dwight Ball, MHA for Humber Valley.

MS THISTLE: Anna Thistle, MHA for Grand Falls-Buchans.

MR. BUTLER: Roland Butler, MHA for Port de Grave.

MS MICHAEL: Lorraine Michael, MHA for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.

MS JONES: Yvonne Jones, MHA for Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair.

MR. COLLINS: Felix Collins, MHA for Placentia & St. Mary's.

MR. CORNECT: Tony Cornect, MHA for Port au Port.

MR. FRENCH: Terry French, MHA for Conception Bay South & Holyrood.

CHAIR: Thank you very much.

By agreement with Ms Jones and the minister, we are going to deal with the Status of Women first, which is on page 20 in the Estimates book.

Generally, the procedure for this evening, we will allow the minister to speak first with some introductory remarks up to maybe ten or fifteen minutes or any part thereof, and then whoever is responding will get fifteen minutes. Then we will go ten minutes apiece after that - if that is okay with everybody - until all discussion, all questions have been asked.

I will ask the Clerk to call the first article, please.

CLERK: 2.7.01

CHAIR: Shall 2.7.01 carry? Could we have a motion to that effect, please?

MR. FRENCH: (Inaudible).

MR. BUTLER: (Inaudible).

CHAIR: Moved by Mr. French, seconded by Mr. Butler.


MS BURKE: No, we can go ahead with questions.

CHAIR: Okay. No discussion, so we can proceed right on with questions. This is page 20 then.

Ms. Jones.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Good evening, Minister and your officials. Thank you for coming this evening to take our questions.

My first questions are related to the amounts voted, or to be voted in the Budget Estimates, and the first one is in relation to Salaries. The funding last year went from a budgeted $780,000 down to $525,000, I think, when it was revised. Can you give me an explanation why the salaries decreased last year?

MS BURKE: There was $110,000 removed due to the elimination of the federal Crime Prevention program; it would have had some positions attached to that last year.

MS JONES: I cannot hear you, I have to get my headphones.

Could you repeat it, please?

MS BURKE: There was $110,000 came out last year due to the elimination of the federal Crime Prevention program.

Heather MacLellan is the ADM for the Women's Policy Office. When we went through the introductions she did not give her title.

Heather, you can speak to the other positions that did not proceed.

MS MacLELLAN: There was a delay in staffing for a Justice position under the VPI program and a delay in staffing in our ADM secretary position.

MS JONES: Okay. I guess that is why the Budget numbers have increased again this year. Have those positions now been filled?

MS MacLELLAN: The Justice position has been filled and the ADM secretary position is pending.

MS BURKE: In addition to that, there is $48,000 for a research analyst position, and there is also $20,000 at $100 salary increase for all positions.

CHAIR: Just pardon me for one second, I do not know if everyone else is having the same difficulty. I have a cold, so I am having difficulty hearing. Can the mikes be turned up a bit, or do we need earplugs or earphones?

MS JONES: We had to get headsets; we could not hear the minister.

CHAIR: Okay.

Go ahead, Ms Jones.

MS JONES: You were saying there is a new position that has been added. It is a research position I understand?

MS BURKE: Yes. If you look at the Budget from last year without looking at the Revised going from the Budget, it is $780,800 to $738,900. The differences in the number there reflects that $110,000 through the elimination of the federal Crime Prevention program, $48,000 for a research analyst position and $20,100 for increases to the salaries for all positions.

MS JONES: That is regular step increases or the 3 per cent raise, or whatever the case may be?

MS BURKE: Salary increases.


Also, under Transportation and Communications, you have increased your Budget this year by $90,000. Can you tell me what that money is going to be used for?

MS BURKE: Yes, $40,000 is for the social marketing campaign, $20,000 is for the stakeholder conference, and $33,000 is for Aboriginal Women's conference.

MS JONES: The social marketing campaign, can you give me some details on what that is?

MS BURKE: That will come under the Violence Prevention Initiative.

MS JONES: Also under Professional Services, you have increased your Budget this year from $91,100 to $371,900. Can you give me some details on what professional services you will be purchasing and what they will be doing?

MS BURKE: There is $15,000 for the gender-based analysis for the public guide for poverty reduction; $35,000 for gender-based analysis training; $120,000 for research for employment supports for victims of violence and focus on groups under the Poverty Reduction Strategy; $100,000 for research to look at needs for children witnessing violence; $20,000 increase for social marketing, and $90,000 reduced due to the elimination of the federal Crime Prevention program.

MS JONES: Okay. So, most of those professional services are, in fact, linked to the violence prevention initiative?

MS BURKE: Right.


Again, with Purchased Services in 06.?

MS BURKE: There is $160,000 removed from that, again, through the cancellation of the National Crime Prevention program; $40,000 into social marketing; $20,000 to the translation services for Justice; and $10,000 for the Safe and Caring Schools educational materials.

MS JONES: You have also increased your Grants and Subsidies this year. Can you tell me where the additional increases will go?

MS BURKE: There is $200,000, or $25,000 each, for each of the eight women's centres; there is $25,000 for the Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre; $10,000 for the Transition House Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, and $20,000 for the Immigration Strategy.

MS JONES: Okay. Can I get you to repeat all of them again, because you went too fast, I could not get them all written down?

MS BURKE: Okay. There is $200,000 for the women's centres. So that breaks down the women's centres into eight, they each get $25,000. There is $25,000 for the Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre; there is $10,000 for the Transition House Association of Newfoundland and Labrador; there is $20,000 for the Immigration Strategy. There is also $100,000 that we have not announced or decided. Again, that will go into the Aboriginal women's grants program, and $100,000 addition for the RCCs for the VPI.

MS JONES: Excuse me, for what?

MS BURKE: For the RCCs for the VPI, an additional $100,000.

MS JONES: Okay, yes.

There was no revenue from the federal government this year. Last year there was $360,000, I think.

MS BURKE: That was the elimination of the federal Crime Prevention program.

MS JONES: Okay, and you guys have not secured any new financial arrangements with the federal government for women's work in the Province or women's centres?

MS BURKE: No. They have not given us money for women's centres since I have been here. I think they eliminated that in 1997.

MS JONES: I have some general questions that I would like to get into. The first one is with respect to the Poverty Reduction Strategy. Reports have indicated that we are leading the country in efforts at poverty reduction. I guess what I want to know is, are there indicators that you have which show that we are actually making any headway? What are the measures that we are using to measure this? Has there been any kind of a progress report completed on it? I guess what I am getting at is, while you may be leading the country in terms of strategies that you are putting in place, where are the indicators which shows that it is making a difference? Do we have lesser people going to the food banks? Do we have people with higher incomes?

MS BURKE: Well, I guess there are a number of measures, obviously, that are brought in by the Poverty Reduction Strategy. The whole measurement of the strategy will be based overall as opposed to coming from the Women's Policy Office. I know that when we started the Poverty Reduction Strategy we looked at the LICOs after tax as the standard for measurement, and I would assume that when Statistics Canada does the LICOs again that we will have some measure of comparison. I think, in fairness to that though, as we move through the Poverty Reduction Strategy we are going to have to actually look at some very real numbers here in the Province and talk about what we mean when we say there is more money in the pockets of families or women or children in the Province. Right now, the standard that we based the original strategy on was LICOs after tax.

MS JONES: So, you guys do not fully assess your initiatives on a regular basis?

MS BURKE: Well, each and every program would be evaluated by each department that would administer a certain program. There would need to be a comprehensive analysis done of the impacts of all the different programs, but each program would have its own particular evaluation to see if there is take up. It is not going to be through the Women's Policy Office because we do not offer programs, but on any given program, whether it is through HRLE or Health and Community Services, whether it is the new Prescription Drug Program or efforts to try to move people from Income Support to the workforce, they would all have their own departmental statistics on that.

MS JONES: Okay. You said earlier that you have allocated $250,000 for low-income earners who access legal aid services. I am wondering, what is the income threshold that you use for them to access that and what percentage of the demand will this meet?

MS BURKE: That would be information from the Department of Justice as opposed to Women's Policy Office. They administer the program, so they would have those, I guess, technical issues, how they do the applications.

MS JONES: Yes, but the income threshold, do you know what that is?


MS JONES: Okay, because all throughout government income thresholds, when you look at low-income are always different.

MS BURKE: Right, and I would not know them for all the different programs.

MS JONES: Okay. Well, they are not all different but they are not consistent, I will tell you that.

You do not know what percentage of the demand that this will meet in terms of clients who need legal aid services, do you, Heather? Do you have any idea?


MS JONES: Minister, about a year ago I raised an issue in the House of Assembly as it related to women being able to access mammography testing in the Province, and it is still a serious issue for me. Right now, I guess the required age is fifty years of age or over unless there are indicators which lead you to believe that you are at high risk, or when a woman discovers something that allows her to be referred for that kind of testing. I raised the issue in the House of Assembly on, actually, more than one occasion, simply because I felt that women should have the option to make the choice. It does not mean that because I choose to be tested every two years that I have to be a high priority on the list to have that test done, but rather I should have the choice to choose to have that kind of well woman check on my own and then be placed on a wait list for when a service is available for me to have that done.

The reason I raise it is because at that very time I had a case where I had three friends who had been through breast cancer and all of them were under the age of forty-five; two of them were under the age of forty. I honestly felt, and I actually went to my doctor at the time and asked if I could have this done and was refused to be referred because there was no history of breast cancer in my family. I do not know if the Women's Policy Office have done anything on this, but what I would like to see is some form of a policy developed, or position developed within the Women's Policy Office that would advocate within our health care system to allow this to be a matter of choice for women, especially when you live sometimes in areas of the Province where you cannot always access these services as quickly as you would like. At least if you are given the option, whether you are over the age of thirty or forty or whatever the case may be, then it is your responsibility to do that and have it checked.

When I raised the issue, I think the minister at the time alluded to the fact that there were wait lists for mammography testing in the Province, the use and strain on resources and things like that. I am not asking that these people who are asking to have it done as a preventive health measure be placed on the list above other people, but really on a list that allows them to have it done when they can have it done. I would like to know what your position is on that and if it is an issue that the Women's Policy Office will look at.

MS BURKE: It has not been an issue that we have addressed actively, but it is certainly something we will pursue with the Department of Health and Community Services.

CHAIR: We have reached the fifteen minute mark. Is there any other member of the Committee with questions? We can go back to Ms Jones if you are not finished.

Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairperson.

I do not have to go into the money details because my colleague from Cartwright-L'Anse has, but it is more of a policy issue arising from the language. That has to do with the fact that the grants which are showing under the Women's Policy Office are designated as grants to women's centres. I think that was true last year as well. I have had women from the status of councils come to me and talk to me about this.

Originally, the money that went from the Women's Policy Office was designated as going to the Status of Women Councils. As we know, the Status of Women Councils are the councils that set up the centres, so you have two different bodies. With the money being designated as going to the women's centres, it does give a change in interpretation. I will not interpret it, minister, but I will ask you to respond to my question because on the federal level - and I am not saying this is what we are doing on the provincial level - we know that Status of Women Canada now says that it cannot give money to women's groups for advocacy work.

In the women's community in Newfoundland and Labrador the Status of Women Councils do the advocacy work. The centres were places where women gathered, where they did education and where they organized themselves for doing advocacy work. Slowly, over the last years - and I cannot designate how many years, I have seen it happening slowly - the women's centres have become a place where services are being offered; services that I would consider to be social services that used to not be offered from the women's centres. I know that bringing the income up to $100,000 is helping with staffing for that. I think that is the intent, but is there more to the intent of saying the money now goes to women's centres instead of to the Status of Women Councils?

MS BURKE: The contracts are actually with the Status of Women Councils. I said women centres, but they are with the Status of Women Councils.

MS MICHAEL: Right, but the Budget says Women Centres as well.

MS BURKE: Well, the contracts are written. We can change the wording in it, but that is where they go to, the Status of Women Councils.

MS MICHAEL: I personally think it is really important for the women in the larger communities in the Province that the Budget actually says grants to women's councils. If the contract is still saying that, it is really important then for the public to hear that it is going to the Status of Women Councils, not to the centres.

Thank you for clarifying that the contracts are going there, but I think the Budget should be reading the same thing.

That is all, Mr. Ridgley.

Thank you.

CHAIR: Is there any other member with questions for the minister?

We will go back to Ms Jones then.

MS JONES: I do not have any other questions.

CHAIR: Okay, so we are done with the Women's Policy?

MS MICHAEL: I am sorry. Could I ask one more, Bob, please?

No, we are only dealing with the 2.7.01. aren't we? We are not dealing with -

CHAIR: Yes, 2.7.01. and 2.7.02.

MS MICHAEL: And 02. as well?


MS MICHAEL: Well then, under 02. the only expenditure that is there is Grants and Subsidies. What are the Grants and Subsidies that would come under the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women?

MS BURKE: The full budget of the Advisory Council is reflected in that line. That is the only place the money goes.

MS MICHAEL: Okay, so it is a grant and subsidy from the Women's Policy Office to -

MS BURKE: The Advisory Council.

MS MICHAEL: It is not an expenditure, it is grants and subsidies that go to them. Whereas up above in Women's Policy Office, Grants and Subsidies means the money that goes out, whereas under the Provincial Advisory Council the Grants and Subsidies means the money that comes in?


MS BURKE: No, no. That is the money that goes out to the Provincial Advisory Council. That is what we give them.

MS MICHAEL: Okay. Yes, I know that. All I am saying is that under - it is two different meanings for me. Under 2.7.01., Grants and Subsidies in the Women's Policy Office, that means money that goes out to the women's centres and to other places?

MS BURKE: Right.

MS MICHAEL: In 2.7.02., under the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women, Grants and Subsidies means the money that they receive to do all the work of the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women?

MS BURKE: Right. That is their budget.

MS MICHAEL: That is their budget?


MS MICHAEL: So you do not have their budget broken down. Is there any reason why their budget is not broken down? Like, is Salaries the same as the Women's Policy Office?

MS BURKE: Basically, I guess for our accounting purposes, it is a grant that goes to them. Now, in fairness, they do up a budget that comes into us to determine the amount that goes back down there. But, I guess for budgeting purposes, it is a straight grant that we pay out to them.

MS MICHAEL: Well, the next question for me is: Why wouldn't that just be $292,000 added to the Grants and Subsidies up in the Women's Policy Office? It is confusing.

MS BURKE: I assume it is where they have a legislative mandate within legislation that we recognize it there. I guess legally we have to because we give them the budget. We can probably put it in another line next year. If legally we can or not, I do not know.

MS MICHAEL: I would like to make a recommendation then to be thought about. I think we should see what the salaries are at the Provincial Advisory Council. We should see how much it takes for supplies at the Provincial Advisory Council. I think we should see their whole budget.

MS BURKE: That would not be reflected in this particular document. That information is all available, but it would not be reflected here because they would not be considered government employees. We give that Advisory Council a grant, so that is why it comes out that way in the Budget.

MS JONES: She can ask to have it tabled for her, can't she?

MS MICHAEL: Yes, to have the budget of the Provincial Advisory Council tabled.

MS BURKE: Yes, that would be under annual report as well. That has been tabled here in the House.


Thank you.

MS JONES: Why is their budget lower this year?

MS BURKE: Although it looks like it is lower, we are giving them a 36 per cent increase this year, or an additional $94,000. The $94,000 will cover the cost for a new research analyst position and increases for staff, along with increases in travel and board supports. There is also an increase for the lease expenses to offset the lease costs. What happened - although I am saying there is an increase, it looks like there is a decrease - they sold the building for $175,000. Their expenses in relation to the sale of the building was $74,800. So all of that money went into the expenses and then the $100,000 that came back into the Treasury will be added on next year. It is because of the sale of the building that it looks like it is a decrease but it is actually an increase this year.

MS JONES: Where are they set up now? Are they going to acquire a new building?

MS BURKE: Yes, they are set up in temporary accommodations. They are on O'Leary Avenue but they had tendered for space and the space will be available, probably - is it the end of May or the end of June?

WITNESS: (Inaudible).

MS BURKE: Yes, a couple of months the space that they put out to tender will be ready for them. So, they are in temporary accommodations right now.

CHAIR: Any further questions on those two?

MS JONES: No, no questions.

CHAIR: If not, then I would ask the Clerk to call these two articles.

CLERK: Subhead 2.7.01 and 2.7.02.

CHAIR: Shall articles 2.7.01 and 2.7.02 carry?

All those in favour, ‘Aye'.


CHAIR: Carried.

On motion, subheads 2.7.01 to 2.7.02 carried.

CHAIR: Shall I report articles 2.7.01 and 2.7.02 carried without amendment?

All those in favour, ‘Aye'.


On motion, Women's Policy Office of the Executive Council carried without amendment.

CHAIR: Thank you.

We will move on then to the Department of Education.

MS JONES: We are going to switch the seating a bit for now.

CHAIR: They are going to switch the seating a bit; notice to the people downstairs.

We are on page 173.

Again, if there is a change of conversation back and forth - I do not want to say a strange voice comes in, but a different voice - then I will just ask you to identify yourself for the benefit of the people doing the recording.

I will ask the Clerk to call the first article, please.

CLERK: 1.1.01.

CHAIR: Shall article 1.1.01 carry?

Again, we will turn it over to the minister for introductory comments if you wish.

MS BURKE: No, I am ready for questions.

CHAIR: Again, the same rules would apply. The first person would have fifteen minutes and then we will go from there.

Mr. Butler.

MR. BUTLER: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I would like to welcome the minister and the officials.

My first question has to do with - I guess it was announced in the Budget this year, I know we brought it up last year and we are pleased to see it there - like several other issues - that is the $100,000 annually providing insurance for all schools so that the various groups in the communities can access the schools. That insurance, that blanket policy, will that cover all the schools and all the various groups in the communities?


MR. BUTLER: Okay. Also, in conjunction with that, there were other issues with regards to rental fees to cover some of the facilities. Is that considered?

MS BURKE: The schools, I guess, can charge a rental fee but they will be insured if people are using their buildings. If they want, I guess, to raise money from community groups, that would be within their domain to charge a rental fee for a particular group to use the facility.


MS BURKE: They do not have to, and we are not saying they have to.


I know it was in the paper last year - I think it was out in CBS, the soccer field or something, the board, there was nothing to help cover off the cost of that, for groups such as that, as in conjunction with the insurance policy part of it.

MS BURKE: We will still maintain the soccer field or the gym. I guess if the grass needs to be mowed we will still mow it.

MR. BUTLER: No, no. What I was saying, I think last year the boards were charging groups to use those fields because they were school facility types.

MS BURKE: And they can still do that.

MR. BUTLER: So, the boards can still charge for those?


MR. BUTLER: There was nothing put in there to help cover that, is what I am saying.

MS BURKE: There should not be much expense incurred in doing that.

MR. BUTLER: With regard to school busing, has anything been looked at or reviewed with regard to the 1.6 kilometre issue that was ongoing this year, or is it still status quo as it was?

MS BURKE: Still status quo. That has been in, probably, since the early 1970s and consecutive governments felt that it will not be reviewed and we are not in the process of reviewing it right now. It is more generous than the allocations in other Atlantic provinces as well.

MR. BUTLER: I know last year, minister, we asked a question with regard to bullying in schools. I know you stated at that time that it was a major concern and things were being looked at. Can you give us an update on how that is progressing? I guess it is still a problem from time to time but has there been much done to try to cope with it, to what degree, and how it has been working out recently?

MS BURKE: We are continuing to work on it. It is not an issue that is going to go away overnight. One of the things we have done under the Violence Prevention Initiative, of course, is the Safe and Caring Schools policy. Our social marketing campaign, when we do the first release of that fairly soon, will focus on youth as well. So, it is certainly a highlight in the Violence Prevention Initiative. The first social marketing campaign that we are going to be releasing soon will focus on youth. We released the policy last year to the schools and there is going to be some more information going out to parents to let them know how to access information on the safe and caring of schools.

Basically, I guess there are a number of first steps, but what is really important is that there is a Code of Conduct that is in place and that is enforced in all schools. That Code of Conduct does not just relate to the students, it relates to the staff, to the administration, to the parents. Anyone who is in that building has to certainly act in a way that the attitude does not lead to violence or bullying.

MR. BUTLER: In the Budget this year, I think it is on page 23 of the Budget about the $41 million invested in the K to 12 system. I think it goes on to say about $14.8 million for new school construction, maintenance, repairs and renovations. I am wondering, does that cover off on the schools that were all listed in the Budget, the $14.8 million? I guess the $14.8 million is a part of the $41 million, or I would assume it is. I know there were quite a few schools that were listed at that time. The $14.8 million, is that what covers off on the new schools that were announced in the Budget?


MR. BUTLER: Okay. So the balance of the $41 million - I know, minister, I asked you here on the floor that day. I guess that is for other ongoing school repairs and possibly other changes that have to be made in the system this year with regard to whether it is new schools or - I guess I am referring mainly to one particular one, and there are many others I know, like Coley's Point Primary. I know the board put in place their request.

MS BURKE: Yes, what we are going to do with the - obviously, what happens with that money is there are some that have probably been pre-commitments or commitments we made at Budget time, but the remainder of the money will go through priorities that come up from each of the boards because obviously there are lots of priorities in different areas. We will work with the boards to make sure that we deal with it from a number of fronts, one is probably the most pressing issues. If there are leaky roofs or mouldy schools, we have to deal with those issues, then we will go through their priorities, and based on the Budget, we will see what we can accomplish and how we can do the out years and do some planning around that. Just because of what was announced in the Budget, it does not mean that is all the work for the year, but they are the ones we are ready to move on.

MR. BUTLER: Yes. So really what you are saying is there is approximately $26 million there for those other recommendations that will be coming forth from the boards and so on?



I know there was somewhere around twenty-two or so requests with regards to funding for public libraries - there was $385,000 announced in the Budget, or $350,000. Will that adequately cover off on the requests that came in?

WITNESS: Mr. Chair, I was wondering if the member, when he is asking a question, is referencing a particular section of the Estimates?

CHAIR: These are general questions that -

MR. BUTLER: Those are just general questions that I have. Yes, sir. I am sorry about that.

MS BURKE: We were able to accommodate the library boards and what they requested in their Budget this year.

MR. BUTLER: Pardon, I missed that?

MS BURKE: What the library boards came forward with in a budget request this year, we have accommodated.

MR. BUTLER: Okay. So, really, the twenty-two requests that came in, that should cover off on most of the concerns that were put forward for the public libraries?

MS BURKE: I do not know particularly if it is twenty-two but I know, according to the ADM here, the request that was made to him on behalf of the boards has been accommodated in the Budget.


The Operating Grant - which I know is another bit of good news - an increase from fifty-five cents up to ninety-two cents. From time to time, and from different boards and different schools, we hear about the janitorial custodians or whatever title we want to put on them, I guess the boards will be looking at that as well and there will probably be more time made available. I know some of the larger schools had one-and-a-half units or whatever we want to call it. That is where some of that money will be going to, I guess, isn't it?

MS BURKE: No, this is not staffing money. This is money into the maintenance of the buildings. Staffing issues and increased salaries or more staff would go through the collective bargaining process. This would go strictly into the maintenance, the supplies or contract services to do the work.

MR. BUTLER: So that would be in addition to what we have up here, the $41 million which is for the new construction and maintenance, that is in addition to that?



In the news release - and I guess probably you partially answered that just now when you named the new schools, the capital investment like Mobile, Port Saunders, Torbay, Placentia and so on, and it says plus others. I was wondering if someone could elaborate on what the others might be, or is there a list?

MS BURKE: There is not a list right now but it gives us the flexibility as requests come forward and we are in a position to make announcements, that we will be able to do it. There may be other issues that are out there but not probably brought to the point of being assessed by the department and making an announcement. So, we do have some flexibility. As issues come up and we are able to make decisions, we will be able to proceed with the work.


The $5.2 million for new teaching positions - and I know that is to keep the 137 positions in the system, and it was also noted that there were thirteen, I think, new positions. Could you elaborate on what those would be, and are they for the larger centres?

MS BURKE: They will basically be for the larger centres, because in just maintaining the positions for this year and adding the cap on Grade 3 at twenty-five, we would not be able to maintain the cap and all the teachers without some movement because of some of the larger schools or the urban areas that have larger class sizes. In order for us to be able to maintain the cap and maintain status quo we had to add thirteen additional positions.


I know we had the opportunity back, maybe a month or month-and-a-half ago to meet with the Eastern School District. One of the issues that came up at that time - and I guess, no doubt, there is funding probably in the Budget for items like this - was the formula when it came to the secretarial positions. They were referencing - they used one school here in the city and one in Trinity Bay where the same population was there but one had two secretaries and the other one only had one or one-and-a-half units. Could you tell me if there is funding in the Budget somewhere that looks after those issues, or would that be left solely with the boards to determine under the collective bargaining issue, I guess?

MR. HAYWARD: Mr. Butler, that funding has been maintained in the Budget. It has been there for the last two or three years. There are some peculiarities, I guess, with the collective agreement for the old Eastern School Board, the St. John's portion of the Eastern School Board, where they had a little different formula than some of the other boards. We have maintained that level of funding to keep those people in those schools. I think it costs around $200,000 a year; $212,000, I believe. So that has been maintained.

MR. BUTLER: I guess from time to time there are many issues that come up, whether it is bullying or whatever. I know some of the schools are dealing with smoking on school property. I am just wondering - I guess we all know this is taking place, probably from some of the larger centres and larger schools. Is there a major problem with regard to drugs outside - what I would call - alcohol and smoking? Is it a major problem? If so, are there things being done to help curb this as well as, I guess, the bullying in the schools?

MS BURKE: When you say other than drinking and smoking, do you mean smoking cigarettes or smoking drugs?

MR. BUTLER: Well, smoking cigarettes. The drugs I am referring to are regardless of what they would be; not tobacco or alcohol, I am referring to.

MS BURKE: You are talking about, like hash or marijuana on the school grounds, pills or whatever?


MS BURKE: In fairness, in all of the meetings I have attended, whether it is with the school board association, the directors of education, the chairs or the boards, any conversations that I have had, it has never been brought to my attention as an issue that they felt needed to be addressed. Not saying that it is not happening, but it has never been brought up in meetings.

By saying that, I assume that if there are issues then the schools are probably dealing with them locally through either dealing with specific intervention with the individuals involved or working with their local RCMP or Health and Community Services addictions program, but it has not come to my attention as the Minister of Education.

I really want to qualify that; that does not indicate to me that there is not a school out there that is trying to deal with that issue.

CHAIR: I just want to check for a moment. I think the questions need to be more confined to the financial aspect, you know, rather than general policy. I understand bullying and smoking on schools grounds to be important issues, but whether this is the forum for them or not, I am not sure.

MR. BUTLER: Well, why I asked them, it was the forum for them last year and I was just wondering what follow up has taken place over the last twelve months.

CHAIR: Those are my thoughts on it, so I would leave it to the minister.

MS BURKE: I will answer the questions if they are here. I know we are here to do the Estimates, but, whatever, I don't care.

MR. BUTLER: Well, I will pass it along to someone else, then. I will go through some figures, I guess, if you can't ask questions.

CHAIR: I am not sure, Mr. Butler, if I am being too harsh. I know it is a good forum for question and answer, but I think they need to more reflect last year's expenditures and what is budgeted for this year. Maybe if we are early into the evening, or something like that, there may be time for questions such as that.

MR. BUTLER: All right.

I will pass it to one of my other colleagues.

CHAIR: Ms Michael, and then we will go back to Mr. Ball.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you.

I have a number of questions that are directly related to the line items in the Budget. I guess a lot of them are questions of clarification: why?

Starting with page 174, Corporate Services, there are a number of line items here - well, a couple - where there have been big jumps and the salary is not that big, but the Salaries, the Professional Services and the Purchased Services, all three of these have big changes from last year's Revised Budget. Could we have explanations for those, please?

MS BURKE: Okay, the Salaries are up by $336,300 from the original 2006-2007 Budget, and that is funding approved for four additional positions in the Corporate Services branch and then the negotiated salary increases.

Under Professional Services we are down by $400,000 and that was the one-time funding last year for the ISSP review and the Teacher Allocation Model review .

Purchased Services is revised up by $135,400 from the original Budget last year, and that is one-time learning and development funding transferred to the Department of Education from the Public Service Secretariat.

MS MICHAEL: Okay, thank you.

Then, into the next head, 2.1.02., since I am new to the House I hope I can ask an example of the educational support groups and advisory committees, and then why the amount has gone up this year.


It was increased this year, the Grants and Subsidies, and the increases were: $550,000 for the healthy schools, healthy living initiative, and that went from $250,000 to $800,000; $200,000 increased funding for the apprenticeship training program, and that went from $300,000 to $500,000; $300,000 for the hiring of apprentices, that is new in 2007-2008; and $15,900 for the Canadian Education Association, so there would be similar grants, I guess. That would be some of the increases that we have this year and some of the money that has already been in place.

MS MICHAEL: How much to the CEA?

MS BURKE: The Canadian Education Association?


MS BURKE: Fifteen thousand, nine hundred.

MS MICHAEL: What would that be for? I am just curious.

MS BURKE: Go ahead, Marian.

MS FUSHELL: The Canadian Education Association is a group of Canadian educators with representation from all provinces, whose main focus is research and education in Canada with published journals that are peer reviewed. It informs policy development and keeps us in close contact with our colleagues in other provinces.

MS MICHAEL: Is this a fee to the CEA? That is what I -

MS FUSHELL: That is our membership fee.

MS MICHAEL: That is your membership fee? That is what I meant, what the money was for.

Thank you very much.

MS FUSHELL: You are very welcome.

MS MICHAEL: It is helpful.

If we come over to page 176, on the Community Access Program, again there is a little bit over a $200,000 jump in the Grants and Subsidies. First of all, where would these grants and subsidies go? What are they for? Then, why the increase?

MS BURKE: I will let you speak to the CAP program, Rick.

MR. HAYWARD: The Community Access Program is a program that used to be cost-shared with the federal government, 50 per cent provincial, 50 per cent federal. There is also a youth initiative funding in there, around $400,000, as well.

In 2006-2007 the federal government reduced its contribution to the Community Access Program. That is why Revised was down at $804,200 last year under Grants and Subsidies. Those Grants and Subsidies go to our different sites. I think we have 164 community access sites. We are still waiting for the federal government to allocate our funding for this year, but we have budgeted for next year based on the assumption that they will reinstate their amounts to the 2005-2006 levels. That is where we are, and we are still waiting for the federal government to announce what money is for the Community Access Program this year.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you.

On page 179, under School Services, 3.1.06., I am just interested in the difference in Transportation and Communications. The Budget last year became Revised significantly by about $15,000 and now it is up significantly again this year from that.

MS BURKE: This is in relation to the cost associated with the administration of the Sheshatshiu agreement. That was the change from the Budget to the Revised last year. Then, this year it is up by $38,200 from the 2006 Budget and that is funding provided for the administration of both the Natuashish and the Sheshatshiu agreements.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much.

On page 180, under 3.2.01., Purchased Services, there has been a jump in the Purchased Services. Actually, both under 3.1.08 and 3.2.01., there have been significant jumps in both of those. What would the Purchased Services be in each of those cases?

MS BURKE: Under Purchased Services, the increase there is in relation to three new programs. One is dealing with the intermediate programs. We are going to be doing a review of the junior high courses, Grade 7 to Grade 9. We are also going to be identifying students with special needs, and there is money there as well for the Immigration Strategy.

MS MICHAEL: Okay, and the one above that, the School Facilities - New Construction, what would the Purchased Services there be?

MR. HAYWARD: That is the increase that Mr. Butler talked about earlier, a $12 million increase in our allocation for school facilities in new construction. The other $2 million he talked about for the fifty-five to ninety went into school board operations, so there is an extra $12 million included in that activity, Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you.

Minister, may I ask you here if the Virginia Park School is under this? Have decisions been made about the Virginia Park School and been included in the alterations and new construction for this Budget?

MS BURKE: There is some work that either has been done or will be done on Virginia Park, but the extent of the work based on the assessments would come from this part of the Budget.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you.

So hopefully we can see action this year. We hope to see action this year. Thank you.

The next page, 181, under 3.2.02., Allowances and Assistance, I am not sure what that is and why it has gone down rather than up, or staying even as it was. If I know what it is, maybe then I will understand.

MS BURKE: Under 3.2.02., line 09?

MS MICHAEL: That is right, yes.

MS BURKE: Total expenses for the Language Programs. That is the funding levels under the federal-provincial contribution agreement, and the agreement had not been finalized until May 2006. That is why it went down.


That agreement is with the federal government?


MS MICHAEL: Thank you.

Again, the same page, under 3.3.01., line 06, Purchased Services, what would these be under Student Support Services? Again, there is - well, I guess it is basically the same budgeted item as last year but not all the money went. It was down to $90,000 in the revision but going back up to the $137,800 again.

MS BURKE: Yes, it went down by $47,800 last year because there were fewer documents, manuals or publications that were printed, less than what we had anticipated.


CHAIR: Okay, Ms Michael, we will come back to you if you have further questions but your ten minutes is done.

MS MICHAEL: I would appreciate you coming back to me, please.

Thank you.

CHAIR: We will move on to Mr. Ball.

MR. BALL: Minister, thank you for coming. This is my first time, and I have been working hard over here trying not to duplicate some of the questions from Ms Michael, so forgive me if I miss some.

On page 175, subhead 2.1.03., you speak about the International Education Program. Can you tell me just a little bit about that?

MS BURKE: I didn't get the question.

MR. BALL: One of the items in the description of what funds are used for is the International Education Program. I am not familiar with that program. What is it?

MR. HAYWARD: Mr. Ball, we have some funding here for the policy capacity of the department, and we have two individuals who work on the International Education Program for the department. This activity covers both the policy piece of our department and the international education. We have two staff members who co-ordinate the services that we provide in international education to our K to 12 school boards and to the college and the university.

MR. BALL: Page 177, subhead 3.1.02., under Transportation of School Children, we have seen, I guess, probably a couple of million dollars decrease there this year. Could you explain that?

MR. HAYWARD: Last year we budgeted $5 million to commence to reduce the age of busing from fourteen years to twelve. We budgeted $5 million, and when the contracts came up with the busing industry we did not need that much so we had some savings there. That is why Revised is down. We basically then took Revised and added some salary increases to get to the $40.2 million for this year.

MR. BALL: On page 180, under 3.1.08., line item number 6, Purchased Services, there was a budget last year for over $17 million. It looks like you spent around $9 million and you are at $30 million this year.

MS BURKE: Right. The Revised up from last year, from the $17 million to the $30 million, is the $12 million that we put into the new school construction. Is that the question?

MR. BALL: I am sorry. I thought Ms Michael's question was on Professional Services.

MS BURKE: No, it was on Purchased Services.

MR. BALL: Okay, thank you.

On page 181, under 3.2.02., line item 10., Grants and Subsidies, that is down $200,000 this year.

MS BURKE: That is again with the federal-provincial contribution agreement, where the federal government came late with the agreement.

MR. BALL: Shame on them, hey?

I think that is it for now. Oh, one other one, I guess, on page 182, under 3.2.03., on the School for the Deaf, line item 01., I guess we have probably a $400,000 decrease this year.

MS BURKE: That is savings as a result of converting the residence from a twelve month operation to a ten month to reflect the school year.

MR. BALL: Thank you.

CHAIR: Are you done, Mr. Ball?

MR. BALL: Done.

Thank you.

CHAIR: Do any members in the back row have any questions?


Ms Thistle or Mr. Butler?

MS THISTLE: I am ready to move into post-secondary but you may have some other questions, do you?

CHAIR: Okay, before we go there -

MR. BUTLER: I have a couple more.

CHAIR: Okay, we will hear from Mr. Butler and then Ms Michael.

MR. BUTLER: On page 177, under 3.1.02. - I don't think this one was asked - under Transportation of School Children, I know from the Budget to the Revised you spent $3 million less. This year, again, the estimate is $40 million. I was wondering what the difference was for there.

MS BURKE: Again, that is a result of the tendered costs of the contracts being lower than anticipated. Then, our number this year reflects the contracts tendered in 2006-2007 and that is where we came up with $40.2 million.

MR. BUTLER: Under 4.1.02. - oh, I am sorry, I have gone over to the post-secondary area. I am sorry.

CHAIR: Are you done, Mr. Butler?


CHAIR: Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: Mine are post-secondary also, so Ms Thistle can go first.

CHAIR: Before we leave and go into the post-secondary, any members in the back row...?

Okay then, I guess, Ms Thistle, I return to you.

MS THISTLE: Thank you, Mr. Ridgley.

My questions to the minister and her staff, I will go with the money questions first.

Estimates 4.1.01., Program Analysis and Evaluation, what makes up the difference in the salary increase this year compared to last year?

MS BURKE: The salaries this year are new positions in the apprenticeship associated with the field support program standards and the introduction of the national apprenticeship standards, so there are going to be actually eight new positions.

MS THISTLE: So those eight new positions are roughly going to cost about $500,000? Is that correct?


MS THISTLE: Where will those positions be located?

MS BURKE: I do not know yet, but if there is any way possible that they can operate anywhere but St. John's, that is where they will be going, outside of the overpass.

MS THISTLE: Good. Well, I hope they will not all end up on the West Coast either.

MS BURKE: You never know.

MS THISTLE: The next question, under 4.1.02., the increase there for the Atlantic Veterinary College, are we purchasing more seats?

MS BURKE: One additional seat.

MS THISTLE: It is going to cost $300,000?

MS BURKE: Yes, $339,200.

MS THISTLE: How many seats do we have now?

MS BURKE: Two; that will make it three.

MS THISTLE: That will make it three.

Is there a list of our students from our Province who are waiting to get into that college?

MS BURKE: I guess the college would hold that list.

MS THISTLE: For you to purchase another seat, there must have been a demand for it.

MS BURKE: There is. There is certainly difficulty in filling some of the veterinarian positions in the Province, so that was the reason that we increased the seat. That need in service was identified to the Department of Education through the Department of Natural Resources.


In purchasing that extra seat, because there is a need here in this Province, will there be any commitment that the graduating student would have to come back and work here?


MS THISTLE: They are free to go where they want.


MS THISTLE: I know that not your department but government has brought in a new immigration policy.

I had a request from a constituent in Grand Falls-Windsor asking what would be his chance to go to the veterinary school in P.E.I. I know that this is probably not your department, but do you know if there is any special funding that would entice an immigrant coming to this country to go to the veterinary college, other than what is offered for our own students?

MS BURKE: In fairness to that question, the selection would lie with the college, and how they do their selection. I am sure it is a competitive process. As the Minister of Education, I have no involvement. It is not a political decision; nor does it come past my desk to select who goes into the program. In fairness to that question, that would be answered, I guess, by the college and the admissions committee at the college.

MS THISTLE: No, but are you aware if there is any kind of special funding for immigration for that particular person?

MS BURKE: No, I am not aware of it. That is not saying it is not there; I am not aware of it.


Under 4.1.03., why is that funding just not moving at all?

MS BURKE: That is scholarships in relation to offshore training.

MS THISTLE: Is there no demand, nobody applying for those scholarships?

MR. HAYWARD: The expenditure is staying flat. There is no new money added.

MS THISTLE: No new money added, so on an annual basis the $226,000 is stagnant. That is the amount that you, as a department, decided they are going to put into that particular line?


MS THISTLE: Yet, you know this government is running solely on our offshore oil industry and you are only providing $226,000 in scholarships. Don't you recognize the revenue that is generated, and do you want to encourage more people to get into that industry?

MS BURKE: Actually, in line 10., when you come down to, there is actually a $75,000 increase in scholarships this year under that line. Although the top one stated $226,000 there has actually been an increase in scholarships and it is noted under line 10. of subhead 4.1.04.

MS THISTLE: But, the one under 4.1.04., that is Adult Learning and Literacy.

MS BURKE: Right.

MS THISTLE: I would think that subhead 4.1.03. would be for students, isn't it, early graduates and students attending university?

MS BURKE: That would be for people doing offshore training. That would be university or college, right, Rick?


MS BURKE: The other one, in order to try to attract people into the skilled trades, and in order to provide some incentives, the introduction of the scholarships, the $75,000, is $25,000 for apprentices and $50,000 for Adult Basic Education, to encourage people to continue their studies.


Subhead 4.2.01., the operations for Memorial University, I know that there has been an increase in funding for maintenance at the university and also for upgrades to the present campus, Paton College. Can you tell me how this extra money is going to be spent at the university?


There is $1.3 million going to the university for the environmental emissions reduction; $500,000 is going to the university for Distance Education program development; $200,000 is going into support for international students; $350,000 is for research information and a data protection system; $800,000 is going into international marketing; $1 million is going to MUN for the Marine Institute for the School of Ocean Technology; $400,000 is going to the Safety and Emergency Response Training Centre; $795,000 is going for the Centre of Environmental Excellence, and that will be operational funding at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College; $2.5 million is going into the innovation, research and initiative funding; $200,000 is going into the apprenticeship training program; $4.2 million is going into the White Paper initiatives; $1 million is for the energy cost increases, which is based on MUN's projections; $182,600 is an adjustment to the pension contribution; and $6,342,800 is the step progression and salary increases as per MUN's submission.

MS THISTLE: Under subhead 4.2.02., do you have any explanation as to why the Grants and Subsidies were not spent last year?

MS BURKE: Under the Grants and Subsidies last year, there was $11.8 million that was reprofiled to out years because of the timing of our approval on MUN's capital infrastructure plan.

MS THISTLE: Has that now been put into the Budget you are using this year?

MS BURKE: Right, and we did some of the announcements on some of the infrastructure that we will be funding, whether it is the academic building at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College or at the new residences.

MS THISTLE: So, you have recycled your message from last year to this, I guess, by the sound of things.

Under 4.3.01. - I guess I am looking at Grants and Subsidies again - it looks like you had to revise this upwards by $3.5 million. What happened there?

MS BURKE: We had to revise it up in the Budget from last year because there was an increase in the HRSDC sponsored training, and then this year the estimates are up by $10 million. That is due to the $1.3 million, or just over $1.3 million, in salary increases; $700,000 for White Paper initiatives, grant-in-aid; $800,000 for the White Paper tuition reduction; $300,000 for utilities; $2 million for the major repairs and maintenance for the accreditation process; $600,000 for the redevelopment of the Burin facility for disabled access; $2.9 million for the enhanced apprenticeship training; $450,000 to the College of the North Atlantic Early Childhood Care and Education; $455,000 for the Centre of Environment Excellence operational funding; and $660,000 for the Skills Task Force. That is the $10 million.


We move into 4.4.03., Newfoundland and Labrador Student Loans Program, Grants and Subsidies. That was revised downwards. Do you have an explanation for that?

MS BURKE: That is because the corporation realized higher collections last year.

MS THISTLE: Realized higher collections in...?

MS BURKE: In 2006-2007.

MS THISTLE: You have been more successful in collecting bad debt?


CHAIR: Excuse me; the ten minutes is done.

I will come back to Ms Thistle.

I will go to Ms Michael.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much.

Minister - because I am not sure where, so I am just curious - the new money, where is it being reflected in the Budget, the money that will need to be covered for the new needs-based grants?

MR. HAYWARD: In the cash budget that we are dealing with in these pages here, Ms Michael, there is $700,000 budgeted in 4.4.01.

MS MICHAEL: Okay, because I wondered about that.

MR. HAYWARD: There is $1.7 million budgeted in 4.4.03. The rest of the funding that adds up to the $14 million in total, with respect to student debt initiatives, will occur on the balance sheet as Student Loan Corporation through the accrual budget process. It will be set up as a liability. On a cash basis we spent two point seven, but on the balance sheet of the Student Loan Corporation and the Province there will be $12 million set up to pay that debt.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you.

MR. HAYWARD: It will be seen in the cash budget a little later.

MS MICHAEL: A little later on. Okay.

These questions are coming out of the Budget but they are a broader policy question. The new academic building at Grenfell, is that dictated by new programs going in, or just the growth of the student population?

MS BURKE: It is a combination, to give them room to grow and expand but it is certainly because they do not have enough space right now to accommodate the students they have.

MS MICHAEL: Right. Was it based on an estimate of what new programs might be part of the expansion? How did you determine the size?

MS BURKE: Well, there are going to be new classrooms and labs, so that will - just by that infrastructure they will be able to expand. So it is not just based on specific programs but it will give them room to grow.

MS MICHAEL: Okay. Then related to Grenfell, I know this is actually in the Budget document on page 23, when it talks about the feasability study that was done. I would like to know, when was that feasability study done with regard to Grenfell? Over what period of time and who did that feasibility study?

MS BURKE: That was done by John Kelly and John Davies from Ireland - are the two of them from Ireland?

WITNESS: (Inaudible).

MS BURKE: That was done over the spring and summer of last year and we got the report in the fall.

MS MICHAEL: The spring and summer of 2006?


MS MICHAEL: What stakeholders were involved in the feasibility study? Who was interviewed? Who were the people who were spoken to?

MS BURKE: I do not know specifically but I know that study is available on-line now and there would be an outline of all consultations and who had been involved in that.

MS MICHAEL: Okay. So it is on-line now?


MS MICHAEL: Okay, thank you. Well, then I will look that up.

I think that is all Mr. Ridgley. Thank you.

CHAIR: Thank you.

Any members in the back?

I will go back to Ms Thistle then.

MS THISTLE: Thank you, Mr. Ridgley.

The interview I heard this morning with Dr. Axel Meisen seemed like - well, part of his conversation was an interview that was done right after the Budget. He seemed to be kind of surprised that Grenfell College was going to be designated as university status and he had no real idea of how that was going to happen, how much it was going to cost and what new programs would be offered and so on.

Was any consultation done with the president or was this a decision that was made by Cabinet and put in the Budget?

MS BURKE: The decision was made by Cabinet but the history of the autonomy for Grenfell was outlined in the report, as we said, that had been written and there was various - I do not want to start naming everyone who was interviewed for part of that but certainly it was a comprehensive process that went through, but the whole analysis of the relationship and Grenfell wanting their autonomy is certainly something that has been ongoing for a number of years. It is not something that just came last year. I know that there has been a number of reports done over the years about Grenfell feeling that they have come into their own time and they would like to be able to make some decisions regarding their budget and their academic programs; to be able to become leaders on the West Coast, to be able to take some of that decision making and that autonomy out of the centralized St. John's system, and be able to let the West Coast kind of take off on its own and be able to be some leaders.

MS THISTLE: You do not have a firm cost yet outlined as to how much this is really going to cost to do that? There is some initial funding to get started, isn't it?

MS BURKE: There is some analysis in the report with regards to funding. We have not announced any money in this particular budget for that. At this time we are going to be setting up some committees to look at implementation issues to make sure we understand what needs to happen in order for this to be implemented. We also want to look at the budget considerations as well, and that will be reported back to Cabinet.

MS THISTLE: Also, in a couple of the issues that you have been looking after for students when it comes to needs-based grants as opposed to student loans, what criteria will you be using to see if students qualify?

MS BURKE: That would be the same criteria that is used now to indicate whether or not they qualify for the funding.

The up-front needs-based grants, right now a student would be eligible to a maximum to borrow on the provincial student loan up to $140 a week. There is a standard means test where that is determined. The up-front needs-based grant will not have any further testing or means testing other than that. If a student qualifies now for $140 per week on the provincial part of their loan they will only have to borrow $70, and the other $70 would be in a grant. The ones who would actually get the $70 grant would be the ones who borrow the maximum amount of money. Some students will not get grants at all because they are not the ones most in need. If they are eligible for $100 a week as opposed to $140, they would get a $30 grant because the cut-off would be at the $70 mark.

MS THISTLE: For the students moving on to the student loan interest being at prime instead of prime plus two-point whatever, how many students do you think will take advantage of that repayment on their student loans, the prime (inaudible)?

MS BURKE: The reduction in their interest?


MS BURKE: Forty-six thousand.

MS THISTLE: Forty-six thousand. How many students will benefit for the needs-based grants?


MS BURKE: Seventy-nine hundred.

MS THISTLE: Seventy-nine hundred.

Have you made any representation to the federal government with an idea to looking at the guidelines for Canada Student Loans in general based on the parents income?

MS BURKE: There have been some changes based on the parents income and we are in the process of implementing those changes now. The federal government has made a move on that just recently.

MS THISTLE: What is that move? What is that change?

MS BURKE: What is the new threshold, do we know?

MS COCHRANE: It is probably going to be maxed out at around $107,000 a year, based on a family of four.

MS THISTLE: Okay. Do you have any idea how many of our students will benefit from that change in the threshold?

MS COCHRANE: It is in the range of 10 per cent to 15 per cent will get either first time access to the loan program or will get increased access to the amount of borrowing that they are currently having. So, there is a two-fold effect going to happen.

MS THISTLE: The money that is in the Budget this year for international students, what are you going to use that money for? What plans do you have?

MS COCHRANE: For MUN international students?

MS THISTLE: Yes, I think it is a couple of hundred thousand. How do you intend to spend that?

MS COCHRANE: The university has two plans. They are going to do more international recruitment to get more students to come and study at Memorial and they also intend to expand the services that they are currently providing to the 900 international students that are studying at Memorial today. So it is a two-pronged approach that they are going to take to international recruitment.

MS THISTLE: Okay. I am just going to ask you a general question now that has nothing to do with money. We all know about the shocking news we saw in Virginia recently with international students attending a college there. What kind of screening is done with our international students before they come to university here? We have quite a few of international students here right now. What kind of screening is done so that - I know we cannot prevent everything that happens, but is there any extra screening done on international students?

CHAIR: Again, pardon me.

Just in fairness to the point I made earlier on - Mr. Butler waves his finger at me. It is outside, kind of, the realm of the financial aspect of (inaudible).

MS BURKE: I would like to make a comment on it though, if I could.

MS THISTLE: Well, there is $200,000 put in the Budget for international students, Mr. Chairman.

MS BURKE: A university, as an institution of higher learning, would have certain polices to give access to, I guess, everyone. Now, immigration would determine who can come into a country, and I would not want to set up anything racist to make it seem like some people, just because they come from another country or at a higher propensity to comment acts, to kill other people, basically.

In fairness, as we recruit in the university, there would be certain policies that a university would engage to make sure that they are accessible to all people. Immigration policies for people coming into the country, we would certainly do screening checks to determine who comes into the country, but in all fairness, I really do not think that a place of higher learning would do security checks on individuals because it has to be very open to people. In saying that, we also have to be very conscious and make sure that if we have any security issues that we deal with them from a preventive nature, but I certainly would not want to be setting up any type of racist policies where people from other countries are looked at differently.

MS THISTLE: Well, I am certainly not proposing anything like that. I just wanted to know what security do we have on the campuses of our universities and colleges across this Province so that we are prepared for any unfortunate incident that might arise? Do we have a plan of action in place to deal with security measures?

MS BURKE: I addressed this with the Board of Regents when I spoke to them after the Dawson College incident and asked them to review all their contingencies plans to make sure. It is also very difficult to plan for hypothetical situations because these are kind of once-in-a-lifetime instances that happen and, unfortunately, they do; I did ask the Board of Regents.

I recently wrote a letter after the Virginia Tech incident as well to make sure that they follow up on security issues to make sure that in their contingency plans they try to foresee as many possible scenarios as they can and, certainly, as new scenarios come to light you can build onto your planning process at that point in time. After each incident, I have asked them to review their security measures.

MS THISTLE: And they have done that and passed their report to you?

MS BURKE: No, I did not ask for a report. I am sure they have reviewed their contingency plans on different levels, including with their security, probably with their faculty, with their staff, with their emergency response systems, with the hospitals and probably with the police. So, I do not necessarily want a report back but I have certainly let it be known that I am very concerned and make sure that they keep their contingency plans updated and if they do not have plans for some instances that we have recently witnessed, that they develop those plans.

MS THISTLE: Thank you.

CHAIR: Thank you.

Back to Ms Michael and then we will go back to the back row again, if there is anything back there.

MS MICHAEL: I just have one question. I know that I can read the feasibility study, but since we are here talking, I may as well ask my question now.

With regard to Grenfell, did the feasibility study give any ideas of a structure of how they see the one Board of Regents dealing with the two separate administrations, or is that to be worked out?

MS BURKE: Obviously, there is some commentary because there are a number of options outlined in the paper, with that one being the preferred option. There is certainly an organizational chart there depicting the structure and there is some commentary on it as well. So, yes, there is some commentary on that.


Thank you.

CHAIR: Is that all Ms Michael?


CHAIR: Any questions from the members in the back? No?

Are there any other questions?

Mr. Ball.

MR. BALL: One question. I get a lot of calls, I guess, from constituents about student debt load. We know now, on a go-forward basis, it would be prime. I am just wondering what will happen to the people who are currently in the system? Will it be debt relief, I guess, especially in terms of interest for some of the current people in the system already?

MS BURKE: Anybody, right now, who is in repayment of a student loan will have their interest dropped from prime plus two-and-a-half to prime.

MR. BALL: Will there be any written off based on the payments that have already been made?

MS BURKE: No, it will be on a go-forward basis.

CHAIR: Are there any other questions to the minister?

Mr. Butler.

MR. BUTLER: It is not post-secondary, it is back - can I go back just a couple of -

CHAIR: Yes, carry on.

MR. BUTLER: Page 182, heading 3.3.03, the Newfoundland School for the Deaf. The salary reduction there, is that due to layoffs? If so, how many, if that is what it is?

MS BURKE: Again, that is in relation to the fact that the residence has gone from a twelve-month operation to a ten-month operation to reflect the school year.

MR. BUTLER: Page 184, 3.4.05. Hopefully, this was not asked, but right at the bottom of the page under, Revenue-Federal, the budget was $3 million and the revised was $2.3 million. I was wondering if I could get an explanation on the difference there?

MS BURKE: That is in relation to the cash flow, the time differences that we have with the cash flow on the federal government.


My last question is with regard to the study that is being done on teacher allocation and pathways. If anything should come back through pathways in a financial manner is there anything shown, and under which heading would that be?

MS BURKE: No, there is nothing right now showing under pathways. If there are additional expenses that were incurred as we deal with some of those issues - and I should not say pathways because it is ISSP that was reviewed, not necessarily the philosophy of the pathways program. As we do the departmental analysis, once the final reports are in we will determine then how we are able to move forward with that.


Just one last question, and it is not financial, Mr. Chair. So, forgive me, but I am not -

CHAIR: We are doing okay on time.

MR. BUTLER: With regards to if anyone has a serious question with regard to something that is happening at Memorial, how do we get an answer? Is it through the department? I know you mentioned earlier the department is out here. Memorial is under the umbrella, I suppose, but how do you get a question put forward if you have an issue in relation to that?

MS BURKE: It would depend, because Memorial obviously is probably as big an institution over there as government itself. It would depend on what part of the operations. There are obviously different ways to access information, whether it is through the Office of the Registrar or Student Services. It would really depend on - if it is a housing issue for students, there is an housing office. So, it would typically, I guess, depend on what part of the operations the question is in relation to.

MR. BUTLER: Really, what it is, it is a local student from Newfoundland and Labrador who tried to get into one of the faculties to take a masters. There was a foreign student who already had his masters, because he was going to be departed out of our Province, got back in and took it over again and the local student could not get in. Who would I have to go to with something like that?

MS BURKE: Any admission to any faculty or any degree program, there certainly would be a dean of studies for that particular area but there would probably also be an admissions committee who would review the applications and who, I guess, would accept an appeal, but any admissions to any faculties would not come through government or through a minister's office.

CHAIR: Are there any other questions from the members? I am seeing nobody. Then we will thank the minister and her staff for their co-operation.

I will ask the Clerk to call the articles, please. We will do them from stem to stern, from one to the end.

CLERK: 1.1.01 to 4.5.02 inclusive.

CHAIR: Shall articles 1.1.01 to 4.5.02 carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.


On motion, subheads 1.1.01 through 4.5.02 carried.

CHAIR: Shall I report articles 1.1.01 through 4.5.02 carried without amendment?

All those in favour, ‘Aye'.


On motion, subheads 1.1.01 through 4.5.02 without amendment, carried.

CHAIR: Shall we report the total carried?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.


On motion, Department of Education, total heads, carried.

CHAIR: If I could get a motion to adjourn then would be in order.

Again, thank you minister and staff, and thank you members for the preparation of your questioning.

The next meeting of this committee will be Wednesday morning at 9 o'clock here in the House.

Motion to adjourn.

MR. CORNECT: So moved.

CHAIR: Moved by Mr. Cornect.

All those in favour, ‘Aye'.


CHAIR: We are adjourned.

On motion, the Committee adjourned.