James Arvaluk on Education Budget: Full text


Department of Education
1999 – 2000 Main Estimates
Opening Address
Honourable James Arvaluk
Minister of Education

Iqaluit, NT
May 26, 1999

Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to present the main estimates for the Department of Education for the fiscal year 1999/2000. The department provides services to the public in three areas; Early Childhood and School Services; Adult Education and Post Secondary Services; and Income Support.

Mr. Chairman, because of my personal and historic perspective of the need for quality educational opportunities for all the people of Nunavut, I am grateful to the premier for assigning me to this portfolio. I have a great interest in Education and a genuine desire to serve Nunavummiut. I am committed to make this department representative, accountable and productive in its mandate.

Our mission is to provide excellence in education and training opportunities that will give all Nunavummiut the opportunity to learn so that they may benefit from their past and create their own futures. This will help Nunavummiut in achieving personal fulfillment and becoming a productive and prosperous society.

To achieve this, the department uses a network of publicly funded and supported daycare centers in many communities. Support to schools through funding to Divisional Education Councils. A network of Community Learning Centres and regional campuses funded through Nunavut Arctic College. The Department also funds regional education offices that provide educational and training opportunities as well as income support services to the public.

The budget before you is a status quo budget; it maintains existing programs and services. Through reorganization of existing resources we will be able to streamline our operations in time.

Mr. Chairman, the Department of Education budget for the 1999-2000 fiscal year totals $138.6M. This includes $21.4M for Adult Education and Post Secondary, $87.6 M for Early Childhood and School Services and regional operations, $26.1M for Income Support programs and $6.4m for Capital expenditures.

Mr. Chairman, the following are highlights from this year’s budget.

17 new teaching positions will be created across Nunavut to help relieve over crowding in community schools.
Nunavut Arctic College will have a small increase to cover a newly negotiated salary increases that has come into effect.
A small increase in capital spending to the Middle School in Iqaluit will allow the department to have this school ready for occupancy sooner that originally planned.
Mr. Chairman, the Income Support program makes up 19% of the department’s budget. We need to find solutions to reduce the numbers of individuals and families who rely on this funding. My department and my colleague from Sustainable Development will be looking at this program this year to find ways of reducing the dependency upon Income Support.

Capital spending this year is not at the level that was originally prepared under the GNWT 5-year Capital Plan. To meet budget objectives the department used the following criteria:

projects that were already under construction
projects that had a legal commitment
projects with a health or safety issue
Not all projects were able to go forward this year. The department is planning to do a capital plan study that will address the long-term needs of our communities.

Decentralization initiatives will produce the following results. I have a small Headquarters’ team to manage all program areas. It is small because we have a commitment to decentralization and when fully functional will be located in three communities; Iqaluit with 26 persons, Arviat with 29 persons and Baker Lake with 4. We have staff in Arviat now. However, the office space is not ready for them and some are currently working out of their homes.

The education regional office in Iqaluit will move to Pangnirtung when the new office building is completed in the spring/summer of 2000. This will move 22 positions to Pangnirtung. The Income Support positions are not included in this number. Nunavut Arctic College Head Office will be moving to Rankin Inlet in the fall of this year pending budget. This will transfer 11.5 positions to that community.

With the restructuring of the three Divisional Education Councils, Education will still maintain a regional presence. This restructuring will be detailed over the next months in the forthcoming implementation plan.

At a recent meeting of the Nunavut Arctic College Board of Governors, a decision was made to review the structure of the College. Any restructuring will be done within the College’s existing resources. This activity will bring the College closer to the people it serves. The College is an important component in the delivery of services to residents. The department is supportive of this restructuring and looks forward to working with the College as it shapes itself to fulfil its mandate and the mandate of the Nunavut Government mandate in the delivery of education and training opportunities.

Mr. Chairman, there are still challenges ahead. Increasing the number of Inuit throughout the department is our number one focus. We are in fair shape at this time, as of December 1998; there were 131 Inuit teachers and 115 Aboriginal Language Specialists on the teaching staff of schools out of a total of 655 or 37% Inuit employment. At our headquarters, Inuit currently hold 7 of the 12 positions filled, or 58% Inuit employment.

Mr. Chairman, the department is committed to the concept of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit. As we increase the number of Inuit teachers in our schools, and as new curricula are developed based on Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, this will ensure that our children grow up knowing who they are.

I was pleased to note Mr. Chairman that many of the recent graduates of the Aboriginal Language Specialist program are elders from Arviat. This is indeed good news. Elders are receiving recognition, and will make a valuable contribution to our schools and to our children.

Mr. Chairman, I have challenged my staff to take a leadership role in this Government. I have challenged them to deliver programs and services so citizens can benefit from their pasts and create their own futures. I have challenged them to find ways to allow the citizens of Nunavut to achieve personal fulfillment and to promote a productive and prosperous society.

Thank you

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