Definitely a vote of confidence. That’s what Joan Burke, legislature member for St. George’s-Stephenville East, felt about being returned to Premier Kathy Dunderdale’s cabinet on Friday, this time as the minister of Advanced Education and Skills and minister Responsible for Persons with Disabilities and Youth Engagement.
Joan Burke, right, seen here with Lt.-Gov. John Crosbie, accepted a new role in Premier Kathy Dunderdale’s cabinet. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
This is Burke’s third term — she’s been in cabinet since Day 1 — and feels the experience she’s gained at the senior level of government will help this along.
That’s because her new posting is different from her previous post as education minister. Now she’s no longer responsible for the kindergarten to Grade 12 system. The new department deals with post secondary education, apprentices, advanced studies and much of the old Department of Human Resources, Labour and Employment.
The Labour Relations Agency portion of that department is now under the Department of Environment and Conservation; while the Workplace, Health and Compensation Board is gone under Services Newfoundland and Labrador, which was formerly called Government Services.
“My new department is all about building a labour force in the province through advanced studies and an apprenticeship program that will better prepare our people for the future and the employment opportunities that will be available in this province,” Burke said.
She said there are people in this province looking for work and different opportunities and this department will bring together the needs of the people and meet the needs of industry.
“It will involve getting more people trained for the jobs that are coming up. I think it’s going to be challenging trying to bring all of these things, which are already in government, together. But in the end these bodies will end up working better under one department,” she said.
In addition to Burke’s appointment, Premier Dunderdale returned Tony Cornect, legislature member for Port au Port district, to the position of whip for the Progressive Conservative caucus in the House of Assembly, a position he was first appointed to in 2007.