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Government language bureau to be overhauled

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

ANNETTE BOURGEOIS

Eighteen translators will lose their jobs if a proposal to restructure the GNWT’s language bureau goes ahead.

Minister of Education, Culture and Employment Charles Dent told the Legislative Assembly that 18 positions will be lost under a plan to re-organize the language bureau. He added, though, that that plan isn’t part of this year’s budgetary exercise.

“There were no savings intended through that re-organization,” Dent said.

Part of the money freed up through those 18 layoffs would be redirected to government departments for private interpreting and translating services.

The rest would be given to communities.

“Communities have told us they want to determine the goals and priorities of culture, language and heritage programs,” Dent told the Assembly this week.

Even without the proposed restructuring, Dent said the language bureau will have to operate with three fewer translator-interpreters this year.

On Monday South Baffin MLA Tommy Enuaraq introduced a recommendation that the minister, in preparing for division, devise a plan for interpreter and translator services that addresses the different situations in Nunavut and the western NWT.

Enuaraq said the plan should include input from the GNWT’s standing committee on social programs. Dent replied he’d implement recommendations from the committee only if they are within his target goals.

“I am prepared to look at the recommendation and prepare a plan using it if it makes economic and functional sense,” he said.

MLAs also passed a motion Monday stating that no layoff notices be given to interpreter/translators within the language bureau until the department has received support from the standing committee on social programs.

MLAs Picco, O’Brien, Krutko, Rabesca and Evaloarjuk voted in favor of the motion while MLAs Roland, Miltenberger, Henry and Groenewegen voted against the motion.

The eight members who abstained from the vote were Ootes, Erasmus, Thompson, Antoine, Morin, Todd, Arlooktoo and Dent.

Beside translation and interpretation, the language bureau is also responsible for language promotion, for some limited support of language development and for development of the certification programs.

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