Joan Burke, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills, speaks to media today on the items impacting her department in Budget 2012. — Photo by Steve Bartlett/The Telegram
Advanced Education and Skills Minister Joan Burke says she’ll be reviewing a Bell Island adult education program after questions have been raised by the Opposition about PC MHA David Brazil’s direct involvement in government funding going to it.
Documents provided to The Telegram show in the past year Brazil has been directly involved in aspects of an adult literacy program, in one case signing a teacher’s record of employment, and in another instance agreeing to pay someone several dozen beer in exchange for installing programs on classroom computers.
Burke said the issues only came to her attention in the 24 hours prior to Friday.
She said anytime there is an allegation a community agency is not operating as funded, a review is done.
It’s expected to be clewed up next week, she said.
Burke said the contract is up for renewal and the results of the review will determine if that happens or not.
“We will look at it and see if the conditions and expectations are being followed,” Burke said.
Before he was elected as the MHA for Conception Bay East-Bell Island, Brazil was heavily involved in community organizations, including hockey.
He helped get an adult literacy program off the ground on Bell Island, and when they couldn’t find a community non-profit group to sponsor it, he arranged for the Bell Island Junior Blues hockey team to step up.
In an October 2011 news release, the provincial government announced funding for community-based adult literacy programs across the province, including $121,000 to a “Bell Island Adult Education Association” but it makes no mention of any hockey organization.
The team has been defunct for several years, but as recently as earlier this year, a teacher named Glenn Brazil — no relation to David — was still getting paid with cheques marked Bell Island Junior Blues.
The Bell Island Senior Blues are still an active team, and David Brazil told The Telegram, the Junior Blues cheques are for the same bank account. He said even though the team isn’t active, there’s no sense in ordering new cheques.
As for the beer, Brazil said they paid somebody in beer to install computer programs. But, he said, the hockey team is sponsored by a beer company, so beer is one of the few things they have plenty of to barter with.