MLAs wrangle over directorateby JASON SMALL
April 9, 2002
The NDP says the women’s directorate has changed due to the government’s restructuring despite the minister’s claims to the opposite.
For the first two days in the legislature in this sitting, Lorraine Peter, the NDP MLA for Vuntut Gwich’in, has asked Sue Edelman, minister responsible for the status of women, how things have not changed since the women’s directorate is no longer a department that stands on its own.
“There has been changes,” Peter said in an interview Monday. “She’s putting a spin on everything she says,” the New Democrat added about Edelman.
Under the government’s reorganization, the directorate was moved under the umbrella of the Executive Council Office – the department of cabinet, for which the premier is the minister.
Prior to the change, which took effect on April 1, the directorate was on its own, with Edelman as its own minister. Her title is now the minister responsible for the status of women.
Peter said there have also been changes in the structure of the branch.
There is no longer a director. Now, the branch has a manager.
Under the old structure, the director was viewed as a deputy minister and went to some deputy ministers’ meetings.
The New Democrat argued the manager will no longer have the ability to attend these meetings, which could affect how women’s issues are dealt with in the government.
Edelman said it is not clear what committees the managers will sit on yet.
In the legislature Mopnday, Peter said those in charge of the women’s directorate do not control the money.
“That manager does not control the directorate’s budget. She answers to an assistant deputy minister and a deputy minister, who are both men. The deputy controls the budget and reports directly to the premier, who is not even the minister responsible for women’s issues,” Peter said.
Edelman said the manager of the directorate will still report directly to her.
The minister maintains the only change is where the money goes in the budget, from the women’s directorate on its own, in the past, to a line under the Executive Council Office, now.
The New Democrats have also argued that there is less staff working in the women’s directorate due to the change.
In the legislature, Edelman has maintained the exact same number of staff is working for the women’s directorate that worked there before April 1.
However, Peter countered some staff are under different branches of the Executive Council Office (ECO) and may not always work for the women’s directorate.
Edelman said today that those staff now under other branches are working for the directorate.
“They are assigned to the women’s directorate,” she said.
Edelman said the directorate is the top priority of these employees but they may not always work on women’s issues.
“If there’s nothing to do in the directorate,” they’ll work for other sections of the ECO.
The minister and another New Democrat, Watson Lake MLA Dennis Fentie, also debated this issue in the legislature last Thursday.
“I want to point out to the member opposite that his credibility on this issue is somewhat at question,” said Edelman, in a remark directed at Fentie. She did not explain why she felt his credibility was in question.
“I would caution the minister to challenge my credibility on this issue. I was raised by a single parent; a mother.
“I understand women’s issues, believe me,” Fentie responded.
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