Mr. Silver: As mentioned earlier, visiting in the gallery today is Mr. Toews and his grade 11 social studies class from F.H. Collins. They provided the basis of the questions that I am going to ask the Minister of Education today.
The Auditor General’s report of 2009 stated that, for the 2007-08 school year, the average graduation rate for Yukon students was 58 percent, whereas the Yukon First Nation students’ graduation rate was 38 percent. The Yukon Department of Education annual report for 2010-11 found that half of rural First Nation students didn’t graduate, whereas graduation rates for other rural students were at 72 percent.
What is the government doing to ensure that the educational issues among Yukon First Nation students are being addressed in order to improve graduation rates?
It’s with great pleasure that I also rise today on behalf of the Liberal Party to pay tribute to Education Week. This year’s theme, as mentioned by the minister, is “Many Paths to Learning” and it is a reflection on the different ways that each individual learns.
A one-size-fits-all approach to education never works when it comes to advancing the educational needs of students. There are many skills that a teacher needs to have in order to be successful, but few are more valuable than being able to understand the learning needs of a student. The earlier that a student has a learning plan, the better off the student will be in the long run.Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Minister of Highways and Public Works about the long-delayed and overbudget F.H. Collins.
The government is ever-sensitive about the ever-escalating costs of this project, and it should be. Spending $6 million on a plan for a new school and then scrapping that design is expensive. Pretending that the plans for the new school are free and then paying a company from Alberta almost $1 million to change is also expensive.
The government is now trying to claim that renovations to the tech and trade wing are a separate project and that these costs shouldn’t be considered in replacing the school. The government knew that the tech and trade wing had to be upgraded, because the heat for the building comes from the existing F.H. Collins building which will be torn down. When you take away a building’s heating source, replacing it is part of the cost of finishing a project.
Will the minister admit that the renovations to the tech and trade wing should be considered part of the cost for rebuilding F.H. Collins school?Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Minister of Highways and Public Works. The government has been claiming, with a straight face, that the F.H. Collins project is on time and on budget. The Yukon Party government of the day promised the school would be open in August of 2013, and the original budget was supposed to be $25 million. That budget is now well over $50 million and the minister admitted last week that it is going to be even higher with changes coming to the tech and trades wing.
In 2013, I asked the government to consider putting the trades and tech wing in the new school. The minister said he was open to that idea at the time and that it was worth considering. A government that does good planning would have looked at it and would have looked at what the cost would have been to upgrade the trades wing and compared it to the cost of building it right into the new school. On Thursday, the minister admitted that the government doesn’t have any cost figures at all, and in fact we are only now assessing what work needs to be done to upgrade the trades wing.
Why was this work not done before the decision was made not to include the trades wing in the new construction?Read more
I rise today on behalf of the Yukon Liberal caucus to also pay tribute to the 2014 Yukon/Stikine Regional Science Fair.
The science fair provides students with opportunities for independent learning and to explore new interests and passions.
It teaches the value of innovation and technology, as well as the importance of exploring new ideas. This year, 68 science projects from students in grades 4 to 12 were selected to compete in the Yukon regional level. Projects from several schools, including Jack Hulland, Teslin School, Vanier Catholic Secondary, Whitehorse Elementary, Holy Family and Hidden Valley, as well as from the home educators, took part.Read more
Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the Legislative Assembly to congratulate the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation and the Yukon College on signing their memorandum of understanding for the teaching and working farm in Dawson.
This memorandum of understanding builds on already great partnerships that we have seen with the Yukon College and the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, which is producing great results like the one that we saw this spring with the graduates of the first class of the mobile trades training trailer program.Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Minister of Education. In February 2013, the government proposed that Yukon schools, including rural ones, move to a common school calendar. The idea was immediately rejected by rural schools. I told the minister at that time, if you’re going to go with a common calendar, adapt the Dawson model Yukon-wide. It was developed based upon local need and local input. This model was not an option when the department gave the school councils a choice for the calendars.
A year later, after many meetings and a survey from the minister’s department, the government has abandoned their idea of a common calendar for both Whitehorse and rural schools. Can the minister tell Yukoners how much money was spent on this process, which essentially has left the status quo in place?Read more
Mr. Silver: Mr. Speaker, I have a question about a Yukon Party campaign commitment made by the Premier. He said in a September 28, 2011 press release — and I quote: “By taking a leading role, we will work toward developing Yukon College into a northern university. We will work to explore university models, identify which model is best suited for Yukoners and northerners alike, and commit to achieving that goal.”
Since this bold promise was made, this government has been completely silent on this issue, perhaps thinking that if we don’t talk about it, no one will remember the commitment that we made in the first place.
Mr. Speaker, why has no progress been made on this promise during the entire first half of this government’s mandate?Read more
I rise today on behalf of the Liberal caucus to also pay tribute to Education Week — this year’s theme, of course, being “Learning for Life”. Every day of our life we learn something new. We learn from both our experiences and from our mistakes. Everybody learns in different ways and at different rates. Education Week is an opportunity to highlight the importance of knowledge and what it plays in transforming our lives and how education helps to shape the future of our young people and therefore in turn, shaping the territory.Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Minister of Public Works. All this week I’ve been asking about this government’s inability to manage capital projects and the resulting public money that is wasted when this occurs.
At the top of the list of poorly managed projects is the new F.H. Collins. Last week, for the first time, Yukoners were finally given the full cost of the newly-redesigned school. It is interesting that it was never actually mentioned in the Premier’s one-hour and 47-minute budget speech, but it was contained in the background information released by this government.
Will the minister confirm for the public record that the complete budget for the newly-redesigned F.H. Collins School is now $51 million?Read more