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N.W.T. education leaders, minister recommend closing schools for rest of academic year

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Northwest Territories education leaders and the education minister are recommending that schools close for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The recommendation was made because of “significant health concerns posed by COVID-19” and the importance of practising social distancing, as advised by the chief public health officer, reads a news release sent out by the government on Wednesday evening. 

Education leaders have shared the recommendation with district education authorities, the bodies that hold the power, under the Education Act, to close N.W.T. Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools. The release says school closures will be announced by their respective education councils. 

“While the immediate priority is not to provide lessons or give instruction it is necessary to identify and secure essential services for supporting students and communities,” reads the release. 

It goes on to say education leaders “share the strong interest of parents and communities” in learning opportunities while schools are closed, and that the Northwest Territories Teachers’ Association says teachers are prepared to help students however they can.

Education Minister R.J. Simpson said the COVID-19 situation has ‘evolved substantially’ since his previous recommendation to close schools until after Easter. (Mario De Ciccio Radio-Canada/CBC)

The recommendation to shutter schools for the rest of the year was made after Simpson met via teleconference with the Northwest Territories Teachers’ Association and chairs of the Tłı̨chǫ Community Services Agency, Dettah and Ndilo District Education Authorities, the Commission scolaire francophone des Territoires du Nord-Ouest, the Beaufort Delta Education Council, the Dehcho Divisional Education Council, the South Slave Divisional Education Council, the Sahtu Divisional Education Council, Yellowknife Education District No. 1 and Yellowknife Catholic Schools.

COVID-19 situation ‘evolved substantially’

R.J. Simpson, the minister of education, culture and employment, had previously recommended that all schools close until after Easter. On Wednesday, Simpson said the COVID-19 situation has since “evolved substantially.” 

“As new public health advisories and orders are put in place, including the declaration of a public health emergency, the closure of the N.W.T. border and the cancellation of all gatherings, we must continue to make difficult decisions to protect the health and safety of our residents,” he stated in the news release.

“I am grateful to the N.W.T. education leaders for their dedication and commitment to ensuring the well-being of our students, staff and communities in deciding to close schools for the remainder of the school year.”

In the best interests of health and safety, that call had to be made.– Mark Harris, chair of  the Hay River District Education Authority

The board of Yellowknife Education District No. 1 voted on Tuesday to close schools for the rest of the school year. The board of trustees for the Commission scolaire francophone des T.N.-O says  École Allain St-Cyr and École Boréale will also be closed until the end of June. 

The Hay River District Education Authority has also voted to close schools. 

“In the best interests of health and safety, that call had to be made so that we could make some decisions going forward to introduce a platform to families and students as to how learning and education will follow from now until the end of June,” said board chair Mark Harris.

Many school employees self-isolating

Last Saturday, Dr. Kami Kandola, the N.W.T.’s chief public health officer, ordered the closure of the territory’s border with limited exceptions. All N.W.T. residents returning to the territory are required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Because the order came down while many teachers and staff were out of the territory for spring break, a significant number of school employees are now self-isolating, reads the release.

The board of Yellowknife Education District No. 1 voted on Tuesday to close schools for the rest of the school year. (Donna Lee/CBC)

It’s unclear what the closures will mean for students, particularly those in Grade 12.

The release says the education department is meeting daily with N.W.T. education superintendents and the teachers’ association to discuss, among other issues, the “continuity of educational programing.” It says plans are being adjusted as new information comes in from the chief public health officer.

The government says the department is looking at what other provinces are doing, and specifically at Alberta, since the N.W.T.’s curriculum is largely based on Alberta’s.

The government’s news release says all options for continuing education are being explored.

It also says Simpson is having weekly calls with other Canadian education ministers to talk about how they can make sure students who are supposed to graduate from high school this year can move on to post-secondary institutions.

The government adds that it recognizes that meal programs, counselling and other health and wellness programs are essential to communities, and that it’s working to figure out who will be involved in keeping these programs running while schools are closed.

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Education

Back to school plan a potential boon for hard-hit Labrador, say MHAs

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After months of grappling with province-wide education restrictions, Labrador students — and their largely exhausted parents — could see relief in September, regional MHAs say.

What works on the island doesn’t work in more remote parts of the province, Torngats MHA Lela Evans told CBC News on Tuesday.

As students hunkered down to study from home computers in March, treacle-slow Internet speeds, even in more populated areas of Labrador, made online classes an impossibility for some students, she said.

“We have not had investment in our infrastructure that is successful,” Evans said, referring specifically to Internet connectivity along the north coast. “We have not had things that other people in the province have access to.”

Her concerns were previously echoed by families across Labrador struggling with virtual classrooms. 

Spotty Internet connections also mean the province’s $20-million earmarked for September spending on laptops and other distance learning equipment won’t be of much use, she said.

Lake Melville MHA Perry Trimper pointed out one potential back-to-school bright side.

The province’s return-to-school plan announced Monday, which designates in-person learning as the ideal scenario, allows for that in-class instruction to be considered on a regional basis.  That means an outbreak on the island won’t necessarily send kids in Labrador packing.

“The premise is that even if we have [COVID-19 cases] in St. John’s, kids probably still go to school in Makkovik or in Happy Valley-Goose Bay,” he said.

Evans says the pandemic has highlighted the disparities between rural Labrador and more populated parts of the island. (Katie Breen/CBC)

Slew of hardships

The regionalized model was championed by the province in Monday’s report as a way to provide “consistency, stability and equity” for students and avoid province-wide closures.

 It could act as beacon for a region with increased infrastructure difficulties in recent days, including Air Canada’s decision to end many of its flight routes to Labrador and long wait times for ferry reservations along the north coast.

Woodward Group, which operates the Kamutik W that serves six northern communities, said in a statement Thursday that passenger capacity has been severely curtailed by Transport Canada restrictions, and that some passengers “won’t be able to move” between ports.

That leaves many Labradorians facing increased travel costs.

Evans said the disparity between opportunities in remote communities and populated areas, in terms of travel, education and the cost of living, has only been highlighted by COVID-19.

“People are getting tired of hearing about it, but this pandemic is really showing the problems that we’re facing,” Evans said. “In terms of the internet speed, in terms of food security, in terms of all the resources.”

On Thursday, the province announced a one-time $250 pandemic relief grant for households in nine Labrador communities to offset some of the incurred costs of COVID-19 restrictions.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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COVID-19 on P.E.I.: What’s happening Sunday, July 12

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The ferry service between Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia is back on schedule again after some crossings were cancelled Saturday.

Northumberland Ferries said the cancellations were caused by a technical issue with the shore ramp for the MV Confederation at Wood Islands.

The ferry service began six daily round-trip crossings from Wood Islands to Caribou, N.S., when the Atlantic bubble began July 3.

The downtown farmers market, held outdoors on Queen Street in Charlottetown, opens for the season today from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

To accommodate the market, Queen Street will be closed between Grafton Street and Sydney Street every Sunday from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m., through to Sept. 27.

After being postponed for more than two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 East Coast Music Awards took place on July 11 as a special pre-recorded broadcast. The East Pointers from P.E.I. won for songwriter of the year and contemporary roots recording of the year for Yours to Break.

With COVID-19 shutting down Islanders’ plans for summer travel, at least outside the Atlantic provinces, a lot of people are looking for things to do. Some shared their summer bucket lists.

Fabric stores on P.E.I. are seeing an increase in business as more people are making their own face masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Health PEI told employees in an email earlier this week that all staff who come in contact with patients and who aren’t able to physically distance must now wear medical masks. Officials say the province has enough masks to last eight or nine weeks, if staff use an estimated 100,000 masks per week.

Education Minister Brad Trivers gave more details to CBC News on how schools will operate in the fall — students will not be required to physically distance in classrooms or on buses, he said, but may have to wear face masks in hallways.

P.E.I. has had a total of 33 COVID-19 cases, with 27 considered recovered.

Also in the news

Further resources

More COVID-19 stories from CBC P.E.I.



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RECA Changes Announced – Real Estate and Construction

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On June 3, 2020, major changes were announced to theReal
Estate Act
, the legislation that governs realtors, mortgage
brokers, appraisers, and property managers in Alberta. The changes
stem from a 2019 KMPG review which criticized RECA’s former
counsel, following which the council was dismissed and an
administrator was appointed.

While most of changes relate to governance and oversight of
RECA, of particular note to condominium managers is that they will
officially be managed under RECA. The timeline to complete that
process remains unclear as as it depends on how quickly RECA
develops manager licensing requirements.

Another major change for realtors, brokers and managers is that
RECA will not longer be offering educational requirements.
Education will be provided through qualified third parties.

Further changes are summarized below.

Industries Regulated by RECA

  • Condominium managers will be
    regulated by RECA (once the licensing process is developed)

  • Appraisers will no longer be
    regulated by RECA but still must belong to one of three other
    appraisal industry associations

  • All property management, including
    condominium management will be considered a separate activity (not
    as a “trade in real estate”)

Mandate and Education

Ove the next two years, RECA will transition out of providing
licensing education.RECA will now focus onlicensing and
regulation.
Industry Councils will set out education
requirements and third party providers will provide education.

Governance

RECA’s governance will now be split into:

  1. a)a Board of Directors responsible
    for running RECA composed of one member appointed from each
    Industry Council (below), three public members appointed by the
    Minister and a Chair, to be one of thepublicmembers;

  2. b)four separate Industry Councils,
    being
  1. Residential Real Estate

  2. Commercial Real Estate and Commercial
    Property Management

  3. Residential and Condominium Property
    Management; and

  4. Mortgage Brokers

Industry Councils will be made up three elected industry
members, two public Members appointed by the Minster, and a chair
to be elected within each Industry Council.

Bylaws and Rules

RECA bylaws will be passed by the Board of Directors. Industry
Councils will then set rules to establish industry standards
including education and licencing requirements for their
industry.

Roles and Responsibilities

The Executive Director will be responsible for the
administration of RECA, including hiring of a Registrar who will be
responsible for investigations and enforcement. Annual performance
reviews will be conducted for both the Registrar and the Executive
Director. The RECA bylaws will separate roles of the Board, the
Industry Councils, the ED and the Registrar.

Dispute Resolution

To reduce internal conflicts and limit legal expenses, a dispute
resolution will be put in place for the Board and Industry Council
members by the Board that will be used if:

  • a Board Member or Industry Council
    Member has allegedly engaged in a prohibited act under the Real
    Estate Act or

  • if there are conflicts within
    Industry Council, within the Board or between a Board and an
    Industry Council

Prohibited actions include using confidential information for
personal gain, impeding the purposes of the Board or Industry
Council, breaking rules for their industry in the course of
business. Members may be suspended during the dispute resolution
process or removed is it is determined they violated the Act.

Lifetime Withdrawals

Industry Council will not be allowed to accept a withdrawal if
allegations of fraud or criminal activity have been made that
warrant an investigation. This is to ensure these allegations are
fully investigated and referred to the appropriate authorities.

Government Intervention/Oversight

After a review, the Minister will have the power to dismiss
Board members, Industry Council members, or employees if the review
support this action, without further Order. The Minister will be
able to issue orders for RECA to take specific action without doing
a review first.

New Transparency Requirementsfor minutes,
agendas, salaries/honoraria and disclosure of annual business plan
and financial plan

Separation– Board/Industry council
members will not be on hearing and appeal panels. Hearing and
appeal panels will be made up of licensees and members of the
public.

Originally published 09 July, 2020

About
Mackrell International – Canada
– Scott Venturo LLP is
a full service business law firm in Calgary, AB and a member of
Mackrell International. Mackrell International – Canada is
comprised of four independent law firms in Alberta, British
Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. Each firm is regionally based and
well-connected in our communities, an advantage shared with our
clients. With close relations amongst our Canadian member firms, we
are committed to working with clients who have legal needs in
multiple jurisdictions within Canada.

This article is intended to be an overview and is for
informational purposes only.

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