Saturday, March 1, 2008

2008 Spring Legislative Session - Transformational Change

After Spring Break, the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly will resume on the 11th of March 2008, primarily for purposes of announcing the Provincial budget. Many other important legislative agenda items will be tabled during this session as Premier Graham and our Government begin "Transformational Change." Many people have asked me "what do you guys mean by transformational change?" Sure, some are sarcastic. Others are inquisitive and some just don't really follow politics and only ask what I mean when they are listening in on a conversation that is usually taking place with either the sarcastic or inquisitive. Now don't get me wrong, I am not hanging out at the bar preaching the notion of transformational change or hosting a house party and giving the Self Sufficiency pitch, but I am excited about some of the huge mountains that Premier Graham is ready to begin pushing.

Take for example the ever- so controversial, Post-Secondary Education Report. Our Government indicated the status quo was unacceptable and promised to change parts of an archaic system. Of such changes is the inability to transfer credits from Community Colleges to Universities. I could never understand, other than pure elitism, why Universities did not accept certain credits when students wish to transfer campuses. If you are an Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and wish to become a Registered Nurse (RN) should you be expected to forgo your basic academic qualifications and start over? This isn't to say that all Nurses are the same. I understand the levels of expertise and professionalism, but if your introductory courses are essentially taught the same shouldn't they be honoured in that manner by either institution? I know of other examples and I am sure others do as well. I hope people understand my point here. However, beyond this point many other issues need to be resolved in our Post Secondary Education System and will once our Government determines the best time to bring forward positive changes to that system.

Ideally, students that attend either institution choose their career paths and find a good paying job in our Province. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. Our Government has focused alot on trades both during the 2006 election campaign and since taking office. This is important for many people and to provincial economy if New Brunswick wishes to create an energy hub in Saint John. With the LNG terminal nearing its grand opening and the favourable conditions of a second nuclear reactor at Point Lepreau it can be done, but what about manpower? So this is what ticks me bit! I have people contacting me everyday seeking employment opportunities are University educated. Generally, they hold a Bachelor of Arts; Business; some marketing or human resource specialty and they can't find work in New Brunswick. Other people call or email my office seeking assistance to come back home with the same academic credentials. Can I help? Sometimes. Is it easy? Heck no! But, if these individuals were schooled in a trade it would be almost automatic finding work here. At present time, the residential and commercial construction trade is booming! Just look at the Northside of Fredericton and other places such as Dieppe. And with a Government focused on enhancing the specialized trade industry it's almost a no brainer that plenty of work is on the horizon.

You know years ago, parents would turn their noses up to the concept of their son or daughter becoming a plumber, electrician or carpenter. They wanted their child(ren) to become "well educated" by obtaining a university degree and getting a good job. Sure, some were able to do this while others are working but earning far less than the skilled tradesperson.

In my opinion, this concept of thinking and approach to informing students there is dignity in learning a trade is just one of many issues that require transformational change.




Charles LeBlanc said...

Lets hope you blog regularly and not a couple of months before the election?


Hey? With my blog being shut down? I'm just like you!!!



Bonne Chance.

Autism Reality NB said...

Minister Burke

Welcome to the Blogosphere.

I am not sure what is meant by transformational change. If this notion includes the commitment made by Premier Graham and Education Minister Lamrock to provide training for 100 TA's and Resource Teachers per year for 4 years at the UNB Autism Intervention Training program then I can say as a parent of a severely autistic 12 year old that I would endorse Transformational Change.

This year saw the first year of the 4 year commitment to UNB Autism Training fulfilled and Minister Lamrock has reiterated that the remaining 3 years would also be honored. The UNB Autism program has been making transformational change for the better in the lives of many autistic school children and pre-schoolers. The commitment by the Graham government to the 4 year training for TA's and resource teachers is a very important transformational change.

Minister Lamrock has also endorsed evidence based practices for teaching autistic children and this too represents transformational change for autistic students. The ideological belief that ALL students benefit from classroom inclusion is not supported by serious study or personal experiences. SOME autistic children, like my son, benefit from alternative learning environments, quieter locations for learning with defined limited periods of interaction with other students. It is critically important to look at the evidence to determine what works for each child with autism. I hope that this evidence based approach will continue as part of the Transformational Change that the Graham government is planning.

As Justice Minister and Attorney General I hope that your department too will include autistic persons within your plans for transformational change. As a lawyer I have provided pro bono legal services for autistic youths and it is my belief that our traditional criminal law principles of criminal responsibility are harmful to autistic youths burdening them with criminal sanctions for behaviors which in many instances are beyond their control because of their autism disorder with its accompanying behavior deficits.

Both Health and Social Development Departments could bring transformational change to the residential care and treatment of autistic youths by providing decent group homes with autism specific trained staff in locations appropriate for autistic persons AND by providing an institutional level of residential care and treatment facility in Fredericton for the more severely autistic.

I look forward to watching as the Graham team, including you, Honorable Minister, reveal your plans for transformational change, particularly as they affect autistic children, youths, adults and their families.

Again I welcome you to the blogosphere and commend you for undertaking this direct and modern form of communication with the citizens of NB.


Harold L Doherty
ASNB Fredericton Rep
Conor's Dad

T.J. Burke said...

Thanks Charles!

T.J. Burke said...

Thank you for your welcoming remarks Harold. I have visited your blog on several occasions. It's top notch!

In my opinion, transformational change is government working with its citizens and other levels of government in effort to move our Province toward being self sufficient. I am sure you have heard Premier Graham speak publicly about slowly weaning our Province off of Federal transfer payments. I think a large effort in making this happen begins with laying the foundation of transforming our economy, our way of thinking about government and the services government provides to its citizens.

In my Department, we have taken two significant initiatives. First, we have recently released for public consumption the Hughes/McKinnon Legal Aid Report.

The report suggests 41 critical changes to enhance access to Justice for the poor. Secondly, we have appointed Mr. Justice Raymond Guerette to head up the Family Law Task Force Review. Knowing Justice Guerette, his work, among other things, will bring significant and substantial changes that will expedite matters such as child support and custody hearings. I further suspect mediation and mandatory arbitration will play a key role in his recommendations for a revised system.

Both of these issues were priorities of mine when taking office and I am happy to see them taking shape.

I hope this sheds some light on what is transformational change. This is how I see it. As for your matter, I will be quite frank, I haven't made plans to work toward work, study or recommend changes to our system that impact people with autism. However, I am willing to meet with you to begin dialogue on this important issue. Send me an email next week when Iam back in the office so we can set up a meeting if you wish.

All the best Harold,


Dan F said...

"I am excited about some of the huge mountains that Premier Graham is ready to begin pushing."

This sounds like a Schwarzenegger sales pitch. You can be excited all you like, but trying to push a mountain sounds hard for a valid reason.

"I could never understand, other than pure elitism, why Universities did not accept certain credits when students wish to transfer campuses."

Why do you say you could never understand it? If you're talking about it being elitism, I'd hope you'd looked into it to the point where you would make the statement.

"However, beyond this point many other issues need to be resolved in our Post Secondary Education System and will once our Government determines the best time to bring forward positive changes to that system."

No offense intended here, but if you use this sort of condescending language to ward off dissent, I predict you'll be working the comment moderation overtime.

"With the LNG terminal nearing its grand opening and the favourable conditions of a second nuclear reactor at Point Lepreau it can be done, but what about manpower?"

What about toxic fumes, oil spills and nuclear waste? How about you fix the power dam before it wipes out the PPP we like to call home?

"But, if these individuals were schooled in a trade it would be almost automatic finding work here. "

Plenty of individuals schooled in a trade have left New Brunswick too... what's your point?

"At present time, the residential and commercial construction trade is booming!"

Wow - you are excited! Construction was booming down in California a few years too... Do we truly suffer a shortage of housing? Will the prevailing wage structures allow New Brunswickers to afford the sort of interest hikes and inverses in equity one might expect during potential downturns?

"In my opinion, this concept of thinking and approach to informing students there is dignity in learning a trade is just one of many issues that require transformational change."

Sure, so does debt-based fiat currency and the extravagant projects our government loves to use to tack onto our public debt and tax loads.

But, in your opinion, we should focus on making sure Irving has their welders trained via their own and the publics expense?

Good job "Liberals", keep the fiefdom running while the people stew in their discontent.

T.J. Burke said...

Thank you for comments Dan F. I figured sooner rather than later someone would challenge my thoughts. That's fine. It's why I began this blog site.

I am glad you took the time to post. One reason that I decided to create this blog site was to get feedback on a host of issues from the general public. I expect to receive criticism. Hopefully, it's constructive when offered. I find it to easy for people to tear ideas down without offering an alternative of their own.

Dan F said...

Well, when I hear of "sustainability" in a region, I'm a little befuddled as to how this can be accomplished under the debt and fiat pyramid scheme we've somehow inherited.

You could start by making sure local farming is capable of making up for unpredictable "hiccups" in the all-encumbering consumer society we inhabit.

Then you could limit media holding by individual companies beyond a certain level, ensuring that the media does not become some sort of propaganda arm of the corporate machine.

Focus the courts and law enforcement on white-collar corruption and the true source of drugs, rather than constantly using the poor and unbalanced as scapegoats in a growing prison planet.

Finally, whether the majority realizes it yet or not, our participation in the fraudulent war on terror taints everything we do with the blood of innocents. If there is a god, spirits or karma, they're not punishing us for our complicity in this war would be astounding.

Extracting New Brunswickers from participation in this horror would be the highest public service our government could provide, but I doubt your party lives up to their name in this respect either.

Until we bring reason and truth back to the political table, you'll have to forgive my lack of imagination on how to make the balance sheets work.

mikel said...

I think what perturbs and confuses many NBers is the pretty obvious problem that when government says 'transformational' they don't mean what the public thinks it means.

From the above, we see the REAL 'transformation' is simply to get people to STOP taking those useless arts and business courses and learn a trade.

That's a far cry from what most people want to see in post secondary education. The OECD has said hundreds of times that Canada is SERIOUSLY underfunding research and development and the sciences.

So a quick question would be why the 'transformation' isn't to get much more emphasis on sciences? Why isn't science on a par with the current talk about bilingualism? The poster above hits on it with his complaint that what is driving transformation is providing irving with lots of workers so they can keep wages low, the only reason that I can possibly see why even two years ago the President of UNB was trying to entice more people into forestry.

The idea mentioned above about transformation barely passes the smell test. Almost immediately after the report came out, universities replied that it was increasingly rare that equivalent courses weren't being granted standing. Even when I was at school it was common for people to get standing even for 'equivalent work experience'.

When that changed, of course, was when post secondary education became starved for money. Then it became a financial decision-give credit and lose $500. If education were subsidized properly that wouldn't be a problem,except in obvious cases where the courses are NOT equivalent.

So the idea of 'transformation' is here at least made clear by a member of the government-get more tradespeople and fewer 'educated' trades. To be indelicate, thats easy for an MLA/lawyer who already has a good paying job to say.

Trades jobs, however, are notoriously unreliable. Training construction workers is hardly a long term strategy since it implies that there will always be projects to construct.

Anybody who remotely remembers the mid nineties and the strike at the Irving refinery should be wary of what the trades offer-especially by the current owners. I'm blue collar myself, and its a hard uncertain life that I wouldn't wish on anybody-especially when there is an alternative.

When 'tranformational' starts meaning something GOOD, then people will start getting on board. Since we know that it means getting more people into high stress uncertain jobs then it will remain in the skeptical column by many in the public. When government stops simply being the lackey and following the demands of the business community then perhaps more support will be given.

Again, here in Waterloo the city is about to get its third new 'think tank' in a year-this time in foreign relations. It is being paid for primarily by one of the billionaires from RIM. New Brunswick has its own billionaires, but if they are not going to willingly help subsidize appropriate investments, then government has to resort to taking it from them through taxes.

New brunswick is probably only second worse to Newfoundland for the sciences. There are numerous ways to be 'transformational'-like having the balls to start a medical school. Like a vet school, like world class observatories, like forestry policies that favour exploration rather than destruction and on and on. Simply saying 'we want more construction workers' is hardly the 'transformational change' that people will want-whats next, transformational change in social security so that fewer old people are sitting on their asses and instead are flipping burgers?