Jobs will be the main theme in New Brunswick’s Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour (PETL) for the new term and it is an area well-travelled by the department’s newly appointed minister, Francine Landry.
Landry, who was also handed the responsibility of minister of La francophonie in Gallant’s 13-person cabinet last Tuesday, has a background in economic development. Her experience includes president of the New Brunswick Business Network and co-owner of three businesses.
“I know that my background as an entrepreneur and a lifelong learner will help me understand the realities, hardships and barriers experienced by New Brunswickers,” said Landry.
UNBSU vice-president external Nicole Saulnier said that this will be useful for the minister’s new portfolio.
“As Minister Landry has a background in economic development, she knows how important access to post-secondary education is to the future of our province, especially for students from rural areas and low-income families,” said Saulnier.
“I’m sure she’s going to be a good resource for us and a good contact between us and the Department of Post-Secondary Education.”
Pat Joyce, executive director of the New Brunswick Student Alliance (NBSA), said that the NBSA will keep her background experience in mind as they lobby for student concerns.
“We’re certainly looking forward to working with the minister Landry. We were aware that a lot of her background is in economic development, and so we’ll certainly look forward to introducing her to some of the recommendations that we’ve made with regard to post-secondary and helping her learn more about her portfolio as she takes it on,” Joyce said.
Already the Liberals have made commitments on the post-secondary education front and the NBSA plans to hold the government accountable to them through working with Landry.
“They committed to removing parental and spousal contribution to student loans, they committed to new financial aid for those with the greatest financial need, they’ve also got previous policy on converting tax credits to offering grants and on removing interest for student loans,” Joyce said.
But the NBSA won’t be ignoring the training and labour side to Landry’s portfolio.
“We’ll be working with [the government] on that training side of things to make that we can find ways for students to not only be able to do well in school but also to be able to find meaningful employment after graduation and be able to stay in the province and be able to earn a respectable income after they graduate,” Joyce said.
These are all things that Landry is prepared to address during her term as PETL minister.
“Our government has many initiatives lined up for the department, and they all follow one main theme: jobs,” Landry said.
“Whether it be through the development of a skilled workforce, the creation of a Youth Employment Fund, initiatives to close the workforce gap or making post-secondary education more affordable, accessible and predicable, it all comes down to allowing New Brunswickers to find work right here at home.”
Landry’s appointment last Tuesday means there are now two women in the cabinet, the other of whom is Cathy Rogers, Minister of Social Development.