Ethel applauds throne speech
Children and youth receive frequent mention

Glen Korstrom
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 18/99) - Governor General Adrienne Clarkson delivered a rosy speech from the throne in Ottawa Oct. 12, according to Western Arctic MP Ethel Blondin-Andrew.

Blondin-Andrew said trade and investment is high, the economy is rolling and the deficit is getting under control creating an upbeat message.

The speech itself held that the next budget will lay out a $16.5-billion, multi-year tax relief plan with 50 per cent of the surplus to be spent on debt repayment and 50 per cent on tax relief.

"It's a lot different when you have to impose taxes to raise revenues. It's a different throne speech," Blondin-Andrew said.

Much of the throne speech focused on children and youth -- an area near to Blondin-Andrew's heart as Secretary of State for Children and Youth.

"I'm especially pleased about one initiative (for parents) with EI because I've been a working mother and I know how difficult it is when their employment insurance benefits for parental leave runs out," Blondin-Andrew said.

"We're going to expand and make more accessible these employment insurance benefits to help parents take more time from work to spend with their families."

Past investments Blondin-Andrew mentioned in the area of children and youth included money for pre-natal nutrition, headstart and $1.7 billion in the national child benefit, a program for children.

"We're now looking at a third investment by 2002, which I think is significant," she said.

Previous investments will be made in 2000 and 2001.

Another program for youth that was in the throne speech was the possibility of an opportunity for 100,000 youth to go on exchanges across Canada.

"It will be excellent to develop tolerance and understanding and to get a greater appreciation of what a great country this is," said Blondin-Andrew.

Voluntarism is the other main area that Blondin-Andrew said was mentioned in the throne speech. She said it was mentioned that the government would develop a partnership with volunteers.

"We can help them through the tax system. (Volunteers) will communicate with us what they need to do a better job at what they do because they do a great service for the community," she said. As for aboriginal people, Blondin-Andrew said the main focus is on completing the agreement with B.C.'s Nishga'a.

"Many of the programs for young people are geared toward the aboriginals like the aboriginal headstart and the aboriginal health institute. We also have the Inuit and First Nations' child-care program."

The throne speech itself suggested that the government would build "stronger partnerships with aboriginal people concentrating on improving their living conditions and increasingly on strengthening their economies."

Though the speech was short on specifics, the North was mentioned with regard to the government's aim to set tough pollution standards to "better protect the health of children, seniors and residents of the North." Blondin-Andrew said the lack of specifics in the speech was typical.

"You're not going to lay out a whole regulatory regime in a throne speech. You'd be there for six days,"she said.