RJ Simpson: Update on Key Departmental Initiatives

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Mr. Speaker, this government is committed to transforming our education system in order to improve the lives of all of our citizens. The Department of Education, Culture and Employment has some exciting initiatives that have been undertaken in collaboration with partners in education, industry, Indigenous governments and the federal government.

Mr. Speaker, arguably the biggest returns on investment come from investing in early childhood education. This is one of the reasons why this Legislative Assembly has made it a priority to advance universal child care by increasing its availability and affordability. We gathered views from Indigenous governments, accredited early learning and child care programs, and early childhood educators, and completed a review of our current funding programs. We will be reporting on these commitments and findings over the coming weeks, and these reports will inform the development of the Early Learning and Child Care Strategy to 2030.

This strategy, along with the soon-to-be-finalized Pan-Canadian Early Childhood Learning and Child Care Agreement, will mark a monumental step towards improving the quality, availability and affordability of licensed child care services in Canada. the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, it is our mandate to increase educational outcomes in the Northwest Territories to the same level as the rest of Canada. That is why we are also modernizing our Education Act and renewing our Kindergarten to Grade 12 curriculum.

Modernizing the Education Act is key to ensuring we are able to make coordinated system-wide improvements to meet the needs of students across the territory so that we can better prepare our youth for success. in life. As part of this work, we conducted a first round of engagement with Indigenous governments, education leaders, the Northwest Territories Teachers Association, parents, special interest groups and the public. . Mr President, during these engagements we have clearly heard that this process should not be rushed; and we agree. In order to create an education system that truly reflects, engages and supports all of our residents, we will need to take our time and work collaboratively, and we are committed to doing both. This means that the development of a truly modern education law will extend to the 20e Legislative Assembly. During this Legislative Assembly, we will be making minor legislative changes to address many of the operational issues identified during public engagement, while continuing the broader conversation.

In addition to our legislative work, we are renewing our Kindergarten to Grade 12 curriculum. The CEE began exploring and evaluating curricula in the provinces of Western Canada in 2019. In recent months, the Department has invited Indigenous governments and key education partners to attend sessions. consultation and engagement, and welcomed public comments through an online form. Five main themes emerged as priorities through this engagement process: the importance of indigenous ways; High school transitions; Rigor in the curriculum; Accountability for learning; and Key Lifelong Learning. Over the next few weeks, I look forward to sharing the results of these commitments and a decision on our future provincial partnership. As we move forward with this renewal, the JIT will continue to collaborate with our education partners throughout this process and include them in planning for curriculum adaptation, teacher training, resources. classroom and large-scale assessment tools.

Mr. Speaker, learning does not stop after high school. The Skills 4 Success initiative aims to improve career success by filling skills gaps for in-demand jobs and more effectively meeting the needs of employers, industry and the community. Over the past summer, the ministry hosted virtual roundtables, interviews and online surveys with residents and stakeholders to find out how well our current programs and supports are working and what we can improve. These comments will shape the development of the new four-year action plan for the success of Skills 4 that we will be releasing in the new year.

Mr. Chairman, careers in the trades offer good pay, many opportunities for advancement and lifelong learning. EPE always strives to improve supports and opportunities for residents in the trades. For example, the department recently launched the Blue Seal program. A holder of a Blue Seal certificate not only meets the high standards of the NWT industry in a skilled trade, but also has the knowledge and motivation to be successful in business. Last week I had the honor of signing the first two Blue Seal Certificates ever issued by the Government of the Northwest Territories. This program will increase opportunities for NWT residents to advance their careers and showcase their professionalism.

I am also pleased to announce that the ministry has released new entry requirements for the trades, which will come into effect in January 2022. This change, which is the result of our work with Indigenous governments and industry, will better align requirements with our high school curriculum. and increase opportunities for our residents.

Mr. Speaker, we have made great strides in these key initiatives, and I look forward to informing the Legislature as they continue to move forward. I also want to thank both the staff in the department who have devoted countless hours to the pursuit of the ambitious goals we have set for ourselves, as well as all those with whom we have engaged over the past year. Their time and energy lay the foundation for the future prosperity of the Northwest Territories.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our kindergarten to grade 12 and post-secondary educators, as well as our early learning and child care staff across the territory, for their hard work and dedication to supporting our youth. , families and residents throughout the pandemic. Your resilience has been inspiring and I am grateful for your professionalism during this difficult time.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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