Tootoo blasts new Education Act

Iqaluit Centre MLA says new act is worse than the old one



Bill 1, the proposed Education Act, received second reading in the legislative assembly on Wednesday, setting off a flurry of criticism that it’s actually worse than the act it is replacing.

“By hastily adopting something now we run the risk of throwing out something that works, recognizing that it needs improvement, and replacing it with something that is worse,” said Iqaluit Centre MLA Hunter Tootoo in a speech to the principle of the bill.

One of his main concerns, Tootoo said, is that the proposed act weakens the role of district education authorities, giving almost all authority to the minister of education.

“Not only does Bill 1 take us further away from self-reliance but it proposes to do so in a less open and less transparent manner than ever before,” Tootoo said.

The current act gives DEAs the responsibility to monitor, evaluate and direct the delivery of school programs. But the proposed act gives that responsibility to the minister.

“Instead,” Tootoo said, “the DEAs are left the task of assuring attendance at school — an area DEA representatives could not possibly have any control over.”

The standing committee reviewing the act met last week, according to John Quirke, the clerk of the assembly. The committee has 120 days to deliberate — time that may be used for public meetings across the territory.

The committee will explain how it plans to proceed with its deliberations, and may ask for an extension of the 120-day period, which currently extends into summer — not an ideal time to hold public meetings.

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