Harper on Berger: No new school funds outside TFF

PM says Ottawa not in the business of running school systems


Stephen Harper, the prime minister, told reporters this past Saturday that if Ottawa gives Nunavut any extra money for education, it will do so within a new territorial funding formula, or “TFF,” that could be worked out this fall.

“Education itself is a responsibility of the territory. The federal government does not intend to run education directly, but obviously it would be considered in the funding arrangements that we hope to develop,” Harper said.

Harper offered the remarks in response to a question about how his government will respond to recommendations contained in a report written earlier this year by Thomas Berger.

Berger, brought in to conciliate a dispute over the terms of a new implementation contract for the Nunavut land claims agreement, recommended two things: $20 million a year to better carry out the Inuit employment provisions of Article 23, and many millions a year more to build a new, fully bilingual K-12 school system from scratch.

Some version of the first recommendation would likely be incorporated within a new implementation contract.

But many questions surround Berger’s second recommendation.

Earlier this year, Jim Prentice, the Indian and Northern Affairs minister, said he would help set up a working group of territorial and federal bureaucrats, who would look at the Berger report and figure out what to do with it.

If the federal government responds as Harper suggests, any new help for education would be folded within a new territorial funding formula expected to be settled this fall.

A new TFF system would replace the “New Framework” system that the three territories worked out with Paul Martin’s government in 2004.

Two groups of experts, one set up by the federal government, and the other set up by the provinces and territories, have each said that because Nunavut is so far behind every other province and territory, it should be treated as a special case.
Paul Okalik, the Nunavut premier, hopes the territories will get a new TFF arrangement with Ottawa this fall. Under the current system, Nunavut’s annual grant from Ottawa increases by 3.5 per cent a year, but Nunavut’s spending increases by seven per cent a year.

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