Premier defends CNA cuts

James McLeod
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Fresh protest from faculty

Kathy Dunderdale

Premier Kathy Dunderdale signalled Thursday she won’t back down on a move to privatize adult basic education services in the province, despite a fresh call for her to reconsider, coming from faculty at the College of the North Atlantic (CNA).

The CNA teachers sent a three-page open letter to Dunderdale, saying the move to privatize adult basic education (ABE) “will result in drastic changes to the province’s college system with serious financial and social costs to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.”

The letter disputes the numbers Dunderdale has been using to justify the cuts, and takes aim at some of the other core arguments for them.

The letter is signed by “concerned faculty” and ends by saying the cuts will have a serious impact to the economy and social makeup of the province.

“Our province is at a crucial crossroads. With a looming skilled worker shortage and the need for an educated workforce at an all time high, it is vital that your government make investment in our public college system a priority!”

When the issue came up in question period in the House of Assembly Thursday, Dunderdale focused on that final sentence; she said the government is already making education a priority.

“Mr. Speaker, we have done that since we received the White Paper on Education. We are going to continue to do that, and we are going to answer the letter and the points in the letter put to us by the Faculty of CNA,” Dunderdale said. “We are not going to pay more for less. Our motto is to pay less for more, for a better result.”

Dunderdale said she would reply to the CNA faculty’s letter, rebutting some of the points it made.

The backbone of the government’s argument for privatizing ABE programs is that 60 per cent of students doing government-funded classes take them through private providers, and the 40 per cent of who students study at the College of the North Atlantic costs thousands of dollars more per student.

In the House, Liberal House leader Andrew Parsons argued that by privatizing the service, for-profit colleges will push to make the service “quick and cheap” and that may not be best for students.

New Democrat MHA Dale Kirby also dealt with the issue, saying the government needs to release more information about its decision.

“ABE instructors are asking if government’s program completion figures show that many ABE students at the College of the North Atlantic transfer their credits back to high school in order to receive a high school diploma instead of an ABE diploma from CNA,” he said. “Will the minister finally clear the air and release the full details of the ABE enrolment and graduation analysis that was carried out to justify government’s decision to privatize the program?”

Advanced Education and Skills Minister Joan Shea responded to the question, but did not release the documents Kirby requested.

Twitter: TelegramJames





Organizations: CNA, Liberal House

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • The once
    April 28, 2013 - 20:46

    The white paper said that education was important for democracy. I guess that's why we are seeing cuts to public education. A significant portion of the white paper was devoted to discussion of the importance of CNA in rural communities and the contributions that CNA employees make to rural areas in particular. You should read it again, Honourable Premier.

  • Sum tuff
    April 28, 2013 - 20:44

    The white paper said that education was important for democracy. I guess that's why we are seeing cuts to public education. A significant portion of the white paper was devoted to discussion of the importance of CNA in rural communities and the contributions that CNA employees make to rural areas in particular. You should read it again, Honourable Premier.

  • Charles
    April 26, 2013 - 23:00

    Oh Danny Boy Oh Danny Boy what were you smoking when you put Batty Blunderdale in charge

    • david
      April 27, 2013 - 12:25

      The implicit understanding of democracy, local politics, and recent history expressed in these few short words is simply, sadly stunning.

  • darrell
    April 26, 2013 - 20:11

    Its over Kathy, you may as well throw in the towel. There is so much negativity surrounding your government, no way you can turn it around. The real negotiations with NAPE, CUPE, teachers and nurses haven't hit high gear yet and needless to say, you won't get any popular in the near future.

  • Jeff
    April 26, 2013 - 19:48

    Efficiencies can quite often replace cuts. I'll bet that a thorough examination of operating expenses could result in substancial savings without having to lay off staff. Time for a second look Kathy.

  • baybye
    April 26, 2013 - 18:26

    The only solution to this is stay and finish high school, way to many dropouts.

  • Duffy
    April 26, 2013 - 18:06

    The program should be suported but only after our children are educated first. Remember these people had a right to a free education to grade 12 but on their own dropped out. Tired of school, knew better than parents, went to work for a car or whatever. We need to help but not at others cost.

  • Brian
    April 26, 2013 - 17:22

    Like a Deer caught in the headlights .This is the leader of our province . The party didn't want her in the first place and now we are stuck with her as a historical footnote . What a price to pay . There is no easy way for her to get out of this situation and no other alternative in the P.C. party. The province will pay a steep price for the premiers lack of judgement . It will be a long wait until the next election and costly to many Newfoundlanders . There will be a new opportunity for the current premier at a Dollar Store in Minnesota " pay less for more,you betcha". Exit stage left.

  • david
    April 26, 2013 - 15:37

    Without getting into the merits of the government's decision, I have one question for the Premier: Is this decision to cut funding and programs --- funding and programs that you all previously, monotonously touted as a "wonderful investment in Newfoundland's future and a high priority of government" --- a tacit admission that this funding was in fact yet another 'black hole', a complete waste of taxpayer money for temporary re-election purposes, or is it an unfortunate victim of government's complete incompetence to prioritize and control it's spending to balance a budget? I'd like to know.

  • Wondering
    April 26, 2013 - 12:05

    Our motto is to pay less for more for a better result, say Dunderdale. Except for the cost of Muskrat Falls energy!. MF cost about $10,000 per kilowatt of power output. To reduce power demand by efficiency improvements in houses and commercial buildings is more than 3 times cheaper. For heating it costs less than $2000.00 per kilowatt reduction. This is being done worldwide, but not here. A compelling argument? A argument ignored.

  • Just sayin
    April 26, 2013 - 11:23

    And note (on Rock Solid Politics site) the owner of Acadamy Canada political donations to Peter the Cheater and also to Tom Marshall. Pay back time?

  • Whaddaya At
    April 26, 2013 - 10:20

    Dunderdale has taken a hardnosed approach to this and I nose that nobody is her equal when it comes to that.

  • Harvey
    April 26, 2013 - 09:31

    Has anyone noticed the growing arrogance of gov't members? Can't believe how much they resemble the behaviour of Unreported.

  • Icare
    April 26, 2013 - 09:08

    The acquisition of a high school diploma is a right by legislation. If for some reason a student doesn't graduate (mental illness, bullying, teenage pregnancy, addictions, and a hundred other reasons), that person should be given a chance to complete high school and get back on the road to being a contributing citizen. It takes a bigger person than our Premier to admit a mistake as big as giving this important job to an industry that will be difficult to regulate.

  • SirSteven
    April 26, 2013 - 08:54

    "Dunderdale said she would reply to the CNA faculty letter..." No YOU won't. Your overpaid staffers and spindoctors will. No doubt perpetuating the mistakes in your already flawed logic.

  • John
    April 26, 2013 - 08:28

    I would like to see the info the government has on ABE through private colleges stating that it costs more the CNA. The alst time I saw any courses that were offered through CNA and the private colleges the private college always cost significantly more. With respect to those who say that we shouldn't pay for a second time around for people I say you don't know the quality of the classroom environment these people who have to go through ABE found themselves in. IF the system let them down the first time around for whatever reason, classroom size, bullying then the system owes those people the education. The custs that Mrs. Dunderdale made in the budget were not thought out and just easy targets. People don't care about people in today's society the way we used to. We cared much more when we were a have not province. I guess that is the price you pay for prosperity.

  • Bob
    April 26, 2013 - 08:28

    This ladies and gentlemen is the absolute worst premier in the history of the province.Completely arrogant,condescending and bullyish.I can't even look at her smug face.This place is going downhill fast and I can't wait to get out of here asap.

  • Joe
    April 26, 2013 - 08:25

    Come on Joan Shea-- hide the facts behind the decisions. Answer Dale Kirby's questions or are they above your head?

    • Jennifer
      April 27, 2013 - 15:53

      Joan Shea Burke cannot respond to questions without her neatly prepared script! She is unable to address the issues of her department, waiting instead for Dunderdale to bail her out. She is capable however, of hiding data so that she never has to expose her incompetence.

  • Jay
    April 26, 2013 - 07:47

    I'm sure her friends and ex colleagues who are running the private colleges are rubbing their hands with glee thinking of the new business they'll get.

  • Robb
    April 26, 2013 - 07:44

    While I am the biggest supporter of education, and I fully believe that post-secondary education should be free to all, this ABE is another what these people want is because they could not, or would not do the proper work in regular school, they want us, the taxpayers to foot the bill for their second attempt. Why is it that thousands of students get through, but the apparently too cool for school kids don't do the work, and then realize to their horror what they have done later. We have all seen the cool kids hanging outside the back of the school, having a smoke, and just generally being disruptive....something has got to be done to reel these kids in so they can get it right the first time. And if they don't, well I still support the ABE, as everyone should be educated...but please find the most cost-effective way to do this.....and then people, go to university or college and get the best education that you can. Best of luck to everyone!

  • Steve
    April 26, 2013 - 07:43

    Nobody dislikes the cuts more than me, but the government just doesn't have the money. You can't get blood out of a rock.

    • Jack
      April 26, 2013 - 08:00

      Steve, if they have the money for white elephants like Muskrat Falls, Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, and Hebron, they have the money for College of the North Atlantic.

  • Concerned Newfoundlander
    April 26, 2013 - 07:36

    Since most of Dunderdale's CNA cuts will focus on in-demand programs, particularly some trades programs like Machinist and Automotive Service Technician, and also make some programs no longer available in this province like Visual Arts, how could Kathy Dunderdale defend these unjust cuts? This is just another reason why this "Thatcherite" politician, or a politician emulating the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, has got to go. While I agree that Adult Basic Education and other adult learning programs should be provided through private career colleges, community organizations, adult high schools, and even the public school system, I don't agree with Kathy Dunderdale cutting CNA and their in-demand programs which will grossly aggravate Newfoundland and Labrador's labour shortage. Shame on Kathy "Thatcherite" Dunderdale for cutting in-demand programs at CNA.

  • Steve
    April 26, 2013 - 07:35

    I think Kathy needs some Adult Basic Education cause she is as stunned as me arse.

  • Paul
    April 26, 2013 - 07:35

    none of the cuts made in this budget make sense since everytime you turn on the radio there is more money announced for something else...I thought times were tough and severe cuts are needed? seems that only applies to services for the people of NL.

  • Smarty Pants
    April 26, 2013 - 07:13

    What's all the fuss about getting higher education; it didn't stop Kathy from making premier.