Gerry Rogers Question Period (05.16.2013)

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for St. John’s Centre.

MS ROGERS:Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In their brutal spring Budget, government again slashed funding to the Human Rights Commission, rendering it incapable of meeting its public education mandate, and creating longer wait times for resolution of complaints. Once again the most vulnerable people of the Province find their protection ripped away by this government.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Minister of Justice: Will he reinstate the funding of the Human Rights Commission to ensure vulnerable groups and people are protected?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, the Budget exercise that we went through, as people in Newfoundland and Labrador would recognize, was challenging and decisions had to be made. I have every confidence – absolutely every confidence in the people who work with the Human Rights Commission that they will provide a tremendous level of professional service as they always have.

I would say to the member opposite that if you check the investments in the Human Rights Commission, the level of resources that this government still continues to provide to that commission today far exceeds anything that was there over the last five or six years, Mr. Speaker. We make those investments because we believe in the work that the commission does, and we believe in the continued support for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
MR. SPEAKER: The Member for St. John’s Centre.

MS ROGERS:Mr. Speaker, their budget has been cut in half in the past two years, and a waiting list of over two years to get resolution of complaints. Mr. Speaker, if the new Office of Public Engagement is true to its mandate of real consultation, it is going to learn some hard facts. Few are more anxious to have their needs heard than the seniors of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister responsible: Will he commit to extensive consultations with the seniors of this Province on the many issues they want addressed and report the findings to the people of this Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Innovation, Business and Rural Development.
SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the Office of Public Engagement is all about consultation and reaching out to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and the full demographics. In regard to seniors, we have a Healthy Aging Seniors team who are out around the Province and we hear back from them through the Department of Health in terms of issues that are important to them.

There have been a number of programs that have been developed through Health and Community Services to assist with seniors in our communities. Certainly through Tourism, Culture and Recreation there have been a number of initiatives. We have worked with seniors and continue to work with seniors through the Office of Public Engagement.

Through those entities together, we continue to consult. Last year, I think there were thirty-five reports received from the Rural Secretariat in terms of issues important on the ground in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. We use that and much other consultation in terms of driving economic and social policy in Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
MR. SPEAKER: The Member for St. John’s Centre, time for a quick question without any preamble, please.

MS ROGERS: What is the minister going to do to ensure the new ABE instructors at the Waterford Centre will have the specialized training the current ones have in order to do their work?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!
MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice, for a quick response.

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, we have made a commitment that we will continue to provide ABE at the Waterford as it has been offered in the past. There is no change in the curriculum the students will receive there. We recognize the importance and we will continue to provide that service.

Associated Caucus Members: 

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