Category: Elaine Taylor Letters

Why do words matter?

As Submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, November 28th, 2014 by Elaine Taylor, Minister of Education

Yukon women’s groups are, once again, running a 12-day campaign to end violence against women from November 25 to December 5. This year’s theme, Call it what it is, addresses the issue of language use and how it can affect our perceptions of and responses to violence against women.

Violence against women is happening every day. In the media, and in our day-to-day lives, we may hear incidents described in ways that normalize and conceal the act of violence or assault. The goal of this year’s 12 Days to End Violence Against Women Campaign is to raise awareness around the reality of violence against women in our territory, change the way people perceive and respond to it, and make people think about the words they are using.

This is why the Yukon government, through the work of various departments, is examining its approach and the language we use in order to improve our collective response to victims. We recognise that our response matters, and we are committed to reviewing and improving our coordinated effort to address and prevent violence in our community.

The 12 Days campaign also offers men a chance to step up and pledge to end violence in their own life, community and territory. In fact, the White Ribbon Yukon campaign runs parallel to the 12 Days. White Ribbon positively engages men, young men and boys through relevant educational programming that challenges language and behaviours, as well as harmful ideas of manhood that lead to violence against women. The group invites individuals from across the territory to make a pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls. You can find out more about their work by visiting whiteribbonyukon.

A ceremony will take place on December 5 at noon at the Elijah Smith Building in Whitehorse for the National Day of Commemoration and Action to End Violence against Women. Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre and Les EssentiELLES organize the ceremony annually to remember the 14 young women who were killed in 1989’s Montreal Massacre, the hundreds of aboriginal women who have gone missing and been murdered, as well as all the women who continue to live with violence. The ceremony’s partners include Whitehorse Aboriginal Women’s Circle, Yukon Aboriginal Women’s Council, Yukon Status of Women Council and White Ribbon Yukon with funding from Yukon government’s Women’s Directorate.

All events during the 12 Days campaign are free and everyone is welcome. For a complete schedule of events, go to Victoria Faulkner’s Facebook page. For more information about stopping family violence, I encourage you to visit www.bettertoknow.yk.ca/stopfamilyviolence.

Elaine Taylor

Minister responsible for the Women’s Directorate

A unique university designed for northerners

As Submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, October 17th, 2014

by Elaine Taylor, Minister of Education, and Paul Flaherty, Chair, Yukon College Board of Governors

As a proud supporter of Yukon College, the Yukon government has invested a record amount—more than $26.5 million—in base funding to Yukon College this year. As partners, we continue to develop and implement a strategic plan for this institution, with the end goal of becoming a university for Yukon.

This week, we were pleased to announce that Yukon College is creating its first made-in-Yukon degree and post-graduate certificate programs, a three-year Bachelor of Policy Studies in Indigenous Governance and a one-year post-graduate certificate in Climate Change and Public Policy.

The degree in Indigenous Governance will deliver training and education that is culturally and regionally relevant to Yukon and Yukon First Nations. The post-graduate certificate in Climate Change and Public Policy will build upon the excellent work being produced through the Northern Climate Exchange in the College’s Yukon Research Centre.

These two new programs will be the first degree and post-degree certificate to be issued by Yukon College. Offering a degree program represents a significant milestone in the continued evolution of the college as a northern leader in post-secondary education and towards becoming a university.

The College Board has worked alongside management, staff and faculty at the college to research what it really means to transition to a university. Leaders from more than 60 universities and organizations across Canada, and around the world, have provided insights, with particular attention paid to unique institutions, and those that have transitioned recently from a college to a university.

Looking forward, the Yukon government and Yukon College are taking a phased-in approach that will allow Yukon College to gradually evolve into a university that is innovative and continues to be relevant and responsive to Yukon’s labour market needs. This will ensure that the current vocational and skills development programs, from trades training to adult basic education, will continue to flourish alongside new degree programs.

We are proud of the work accomplished so far by the Yukon government, the Yukon College Board of Governors, management, faculty and staff on the development of all programs at the College including this new degree and post-graduate certificate, and the contribution this will make as we move along the path toward becoming a university.

We would like to thank others who spoke at this week’s announcement at the Yukon College Ayamdigut campus, including Council of Yukon First Nations Grand Chief Ruth Massie, Yukon College representatives Dr. Karen Barnes, Dr. Deb Bartlette, Tosh Southwick and special guest Vancouver Island University President Dr. Ralph Nilson.

Congratulations and thanks to all who worked so hard to bring us to this point. We still have much work ahead on this journey. Ultimately, support for Yukon College is support for the expansion of educational opportunities for Yukoners, a goal that all Yukoners share.

Elaine Taylor, Minister of Education and Paul Flaherty, Chair, Yukon College Board of Governors

New opportunities for training and economic growth in Yukon

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, September 26th, 2014 by Elaine Taylor, Minister of Education

As Yukon’s Minister of Education, I regard training for workers as one of my top priorities, key to the success of our economy and the territory’s future.

For the past year, territories and provinces have been working with the Government of Canada to negotiate a new agreement to put additional dollars in the hands of employers to train existing and potential workers. That work has resulted in a number of bilateral agreements with provincial and territorial governments including our own Canada-Yukon Job Fund Agreement that Yukon MP Ryan Leef and I signed earlier this month.

The new agreement includes three streams of funding: 1) the Canada Job Grant; 2) Employment Services and Supports; and 3) Employer-Sponsored Training.

Seeing this initiative come to fruition is an important milestone for Yukon, and reflects the best deal possible for Yukoners through engagement with local stakeholders and national negotiations.

Prior to commencing discussions amongst Provincial and Territorial Labour Market Ministers last fall, I was pleased to host a meeting of various stakeholders to discuss the proposed Canada Job Grant and to obtain preliminary feedback and suggestions for consideration. An open-ended questionnaire was also sent to organizations for distribution amongst their respective members. I would like to thank each of the representatives who participated in these discussions and provided invaluable input. By working together, provinces and territories were able to achieve a number of changes to the original program which have helped to strengthen the program overall.

For example, when we started negotiations, Yukon was slated to receive a 50% reduction in funding — reflective of the end of federal stimulus funding attached to our Labour Market Agreement. By working with our territorial counterparts in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, we were able to secure approximately $1 million annually in funding for each of the territories, maintaining our existing level of funding. In consideration of small business, a provision was also negotiated wherein employers with fewer than 50 employees will not be required to come up with one third of the direct costs of training. Rather, this provision was changed so that half of the one third contribution by employers can now be counted as wages or wage replacement for the trainee.

In addition, we successfully secured a commitment to evaluate the six-year Canada-Yukon Job Fund Agreement after two years, to assess the overall uptake, administration and effectiveness.

Starting immediately, Yukon employers can now apply for the Canada Job Grant to help Yukoners gain the skills and training they need to fill available jobs. The Grant will provide Yukon employers with up to $10,000 for training costs for an employee or potential employee, including tuition and training materials. Under this initiative, it is employers who decide who will be trained and what training will be offered. This puts the decision-making rightfully into the hands of the people who know their business best.

The second stream of the Canada-Yukon Job Fund, Employment Services and Supports, picks up where the previous Labour Market Agreements left off. It gives priority to groups under-represented in Yukon’s labour market, including Yukoners with disabilities, Aboriginal Yukoners and Yukon youth. Over $650,000 has been allocated for programs this year under Employment Services and Supports.

The third stream of the Canada-Yukon Job Fund, Employer-Sponsored Training, is currently under development with our partners. It will be similar to the Canada Job Grant in that employers will determine the nature of the training and who receives it, but it will have a broader scope for training activities and costs.

The overall Canada-Yukon Job Fund Agreement will help meet goals set out in the Yukon government’s Labour Market Framework. Specifically, the Agreement helps to ensure that training opportunities are available to all Yukoners to adapt effectively and efficiently to changing needs for skills, knowledge and abilities. It also will facilitate and improve learning and employment transitions.

During the past year of work, it was invaluable to have the benefit of thoughtful contributions from Yukon stakeholders. I would like to extend my thanks to those who offered their input and helped our government successfully negotiate a deal that better suits our unique Yukon labour market.

Elaine Taylor
Minister of Education

For more information on the Canada-Yukon Job Fund Agreement, please go to http://www.education.gov.yk.ca/employers/cjf.html.

A Five Year Commitment to the Yukon Research Centre

Elaine Taylor, MLA for Whitehorse West

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, September 19th, 2014
by Elaine Taylor, Minister of Education

In five short years, the Yukon Research Centre has created a cutting-edge research environment that provides Canada, and the world, with a unique northern perspective. Through collaboration, innovation and regional outreach, the Centre is helping to establish Yukon College as a leading institution in northern research – from climate change adaptation to cold-climate technologies.

On the Centre’s fifth anniversary, I offer my congratulations to all who have helped realize this dream. The Centre has much to be proud of, as researchers, teachers and a collective research entity. Its work has had a tremendous impact on our territory and the North, extending beyond the busy classrooms and laboratories at the College. The scope and volume of the research projects and publications undertaken are numerous and truly impressive.

In 2009, our government, together with Yukon College and the Council of Yukon First Nations, opened the Yukon Research Centre to enhance our knowledge and understanding of changes in our regional climate, environment and economy, and to work collectively to come up with made-in-the-North solutions from well-designed research programs. Funding from the Yukon government has been essential for leveraging funding from additional sources including industry, institutions, corporations and other government departments and agencies.

This week, the Yukon government reaffirmed its commitment to the growing northern-based knowledge sector of our economy. Over the next five years, the Yukon government has committed $6.3 million to support the continuation and extension of the Yukon Research Centre’s activities, bringing the total contribution by the department of Education to more than $10.78 million since the opening of the Centre.

This new investment will allow the Yukon Research Centre to strengthen relationships with local businesses, governments, communities and entrepreneurs that will yield new research and new investments. It will increase the flow of information and the development of skills in the knowledge economy, and promote excellence in northern science and technology here at home for the benefit of Yukon and the North.

Congratulations to the Yukon Research Centre on the many successes it has achieved these past five years. We look forward to the innovative discoveries, technology and research yet to come.

Learning for Life

Elaine Taylor, MLA for Whitehorse West

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Thursday, April 17th, 2014
by Elaine Taylor, Minister of Education

During this past week, Yukoners have been celebrating Education Week, an opportunity to recognize teachers, students, families, governments, community organizations and volunteers who contribute to life-long learning for Yukon students of all ages.

A team in the First Annual Lego Robotics Challenge gets hi-fives from the judges

A team in the first Yukon Robotics Challenge gets hi-fives from the judges

Throughout the week, I was pleased to attend a number of activities including the very first Yukon Robotics Challenge at Porter Creek Secondary School, the Wrestling Championships at the Canada Games Centre and a funding announcement in support of the Northern Institute of Social Justice at Yukon College. These examples remind us that learning takes place not only at school, but throughout our communities and throughout our lives.

A key priority for our government is working to provide more meaningful experiences for Yukon students in support of successful learning outcomes. One example of a community-led initiative is that of the Old Crow Experiential Education Project. Last week, my colleague Darius Elias and I had the opportunity to take part in Culture Camp. A unique partnership between the Vuntut Gwitchin Government and the department of Education, the camp provides students from Old Crow the opportunity to develop their Gwich’in language, culture and traditional land-based skills while achieving learning outcomes in literacy, numeracy, history and science.

Darius Elias and Minister of Education Elaine Taylor participate in Culture Camp in Old Crow

Darius Elias and Minister of Education Elaine Taylor participate in Culture Camp in Old Crow

In Dawson City and Teslin, along with Old Crow, secondary school programs have been established this year providing students with an alternative learning path to complete high school. These programs assist students by creating learning centres in their home communities where they have the support they need to successfully graduate.

Minister of Education Elaine Taylor announces the approval of over $2.5 million in funding for the continued operation of the NISJ

Minister of Education Elaine Taylor announces the approval of over $2.5 million in funding for the continued operation of the Northern Institute of Social Justice.

The Watson Lake Secondary School has seen significant success with implementation of a blended learning approach which combines technology and teacher expertise to support students who are progressing through online curricula at their own pace. Face-to-face instruction is combined with online courses to give students more flexibility in their learning journey. A significant improvement in attendance and other successes can be attributed to the leadership shown by the school and Yukon Education working together to make education more responsive to the individual needs of students.

The department of Education has also been working with the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in government to develop an alternative programming model to support vulnerable learners, create a made-in-Yukon unit on residential schools to be taught in Social Studies 10 and accredit a Dawson City culture camp for the 2014-2015 school year. This year, Whitehorse schools such as Whitehorse Elementary and Vanier Catholic Secondary have also taken the initiative to host week-long activities to enhance awareness of Yukon First Nations culture.

Collaboration is key to the success of these and other initiatives currently underway throughout the territory to bridge the achievement gap between rural and urban Yukon students. Working together with communities and stakeholders, we are making great strides that are yielding results. There is much work yet to be done and we look forward to working with our partners in education on future initiatives.