Women of Distinction Awards


Mrs. Myrna Driedger (Charleswood): Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity today to pay tribute to the Women of Distinction whose names were announced last night at the annual YM/YWCA Women of Distinction Awards dinner. The winners are as follows: Rosa Walker is the executive director of Taking Charge Incorporated, an organization that helps single parents on social assistance enter the labour force and become self-sufficient. She also worked as part of a team that developed and implemented policy and procedures for a workforce diversity strategy for the Bank of Montreal to increase representation of employment equity target groups.


Some Honourable Members: Oh, oh.


Madam Speaker: Order, please. I am experienced difficulty hearing the honourable member for Charleswood. I wonder if I might ask those members having private meetings to do so in the loge or outside the Chamber.


Mrs. Driedger: Carol Shields, Professor of English at the University of Manitoba and Chancellor of the University of Winnipeg, is a world-renowned author and recipient of many prestigious awards honouring her work. In addition, Ms. Shields has been an active volunteer in a variety of organizations such as the Canada Council and the Prairieaction Committee Against Family Violence.


Dr. Lindsay Nicolle is head of the Department of Medicine, University of Manitoba Health Sciences Centre and St. Boniface General Hospital, and Medical Director, Winnipeg Hospitals Authority Medicine Program. She is the first and only woman appointed a full professor in the Department of Medicine and the first women to head the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Manitoba.


Josie Hill is Executive Director of Ma Mawi. She has developed and implemented many programs addressing the needs of aboriginal women and families. She fostered the construction of two new transitional houses for aboriginal women and is a powerful advocate on behalf of the Native Women's Transition Centre.


The Council of Women of Winnipeg has been working for the advancement of women for over 100 years and represents a wide range of organizations and individuals working to attain common goals. They have actively promoted women's equality, appropriate health care and education for women and children, to mention but a few of their endeavours.


Each year the Women of Distinction Awards include the Gerrie Hammond Memorial Award of Promise established to honour Gerrie Hammond's many accomplishments throughout her long and distinguished career in politics. As a volunteer and as a mentor and role model for women, this year's Award of Promise was given to Sarah-Amarylla Bector, a student at Gordon Bell High School, where she served as president of student council for four years. Sarah has already demonstrated her care and concern for her fellow students through her many volunteer activities. Please join me in honouring the Women of Distinction and all of the nominees as we wish them continued success in their endeavours.


Virtual Classroom Competition


Mr. Stan Struthers (Dauphin): Madam Speaker, I believe that it is a good policy to brag about the accomplishments of young people in our communities, and I think it is a good policy to talk about the good things that are happening in the schools.


Madam Speaker, AT&T, through the Internet and throughout the world, sponsored the Virtual Classroom Contest '98. The students' task in this contest was to design an Internet home page in collaboration with two other schools. The focus of the topics within the home page was the environment, culture and children's rights. There were about 7,700 students worldwide who participated in this contest. It is with a great deal of pride, and I am very pleased, that the Ukrainian bilingual elementary school in Dauphin, the Smith-Jackson School along with a school in New Delhi, India, and a school in Tallahassee, Florida, won the competition and will be travelling to Hong Kong to accept their award on May 18.


Madam Speaker, I want to pay particular respect to all of the 12 students and their teacher who participated in this. The students were: Andreja Frykas in Grade 6; Jordan McLaughlin, Grade 4; Joey Smilgelski, Grade 5; Jolene Showdra, Grade 6; Travis Prytula, Grade 4; Scott Tokaryk, Grade 5; Alyson Sametz, Grade 6; Brent Hancharyk, Grade 4; Andrei Dandridge-Evancio, Grade 4; Larisa Matwee, Grade 5; Melissa Zabiaka, Grade 5; Allan Bernat, Grade 5. Their teacher was Mr. Stephen Jaddock who put a lot of time in with these young people. I would also like to thank the parents for their support of their students as they pursued this event.


A.J. Frykas and Jordan McLaughlin had their names drawn out of a hat and they, along with Mr. Jaddock, will be travelling to Hong Kong on that very special day. So congratulations to the Smith-Jackson School. Thank you, Madam Speaker.


Women of Distinction Awards


Mr. Gary Kowalski (The Maples): I, too, rise to commend the organizers of the YM/YWCA Women of Distinction Awards that I attended, along with yourself, Madam Speaker, the Minister responsible for the Status of Women (Mrs. Vodrey), and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism (Mr. Tweed). I guess the official opposition were too busy campaigning to come out to the event, but I want to give special note of the Gerrie Hammond Memorial Award of Promise to Sarah-Amarylla Bector, nominated by Barbara Hirt for Gordon Bell High School.


Sarah is a strong believer in the empowerment of today's youth. Sarah is a young woman of vision and action. In August 1997, Sarah initiated a project at Pritchard Park Recreation Centre to address the needs of high-risk youth, aged 3 to 16. The program included theme days, a soup kitchen, a literacy program and a clothing bank. Sarah recognized the needs and led the project to fruition. Sarah also founded a mentorship program at Gordon Bell High School where she served as a student council president for four years. The program paired junior and senior high females to provide role models, personal support, and encouragement to stay in school.


Active in many extracurricular activities at her school, Sarah is also a dedicated community volunteer. She has volunteered more than 3,890 hours over the past five years, including service to Amnesty International, Rotary Youth Camp and St. Mary's the Protectress Orthodox Church.


In 1998, Sarah represented Manitoba as a youth ambassador travelling across the country representing the province. I think too often we point out the youth that are in trouble. It is nice to celebrate a youth such as Sarah. Thank you, Madam Speaker.


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Great-West Life


Mr. Ben Sveinson (La Verendrye): Madam Speaker, members opposite have in recent months attempted to remake their image as a fiscally conservative pro-business party. They no longer talk about their 32-hour workweek policy; that is, according to the Thompson Citizen, a formula that will drive industries right out of our province. But no matter how the NDP try to repackage themselves, we still see the old antibusiness bias creeping into their continuous rhetoric.


In Manitoba, we are fortunate to have a number of industries that lead the nation. One of these businesses has integrated with London Life and together forms the largest life and health insurance organization in Canada. This company has assets of over $75 billion. This company was founded in Winnipeg in 1891 and has become an international corporation with thousands of employees. This company is a source of pride for not only Winnipeg but also the province of Manitoba.


Who is this company? Well, according to the member for Crescentwood (Mr. Sale), it is known as Great Waste of Life. For the record, this company is actually called Great-West Life, and we are proud that they are headquartered here in Manitoba. This disparaging and unwarranted comment made by the member for Crescentwood again shows the antibusiness colours of the NDP, and I ask he put forward an apology. If he does not, I say shame on that member. Thank you.


Friendship Centres


Mr. Gerard Jennissen (Flin Flon): Madam Speaker, this morning I had the opportunity to attend a press conference in this building announcing the signing of an agreement between the province and the 10 friendship centres located outside of Winnipeg. The province will dedicate $550,000 to the Partners for Careers program. This amount of funding will double the size of the program. While we welcome this much-needed funding for a worthwhile program, we must take a look at the historical context in which this funding takes place.


In 1993, this government cut all core funding to the Manitoba friendship centres. For example, the Flin Flon Friendship Centre lost between $80,000 and $90,000 annually after 1993. In other words, the $550,000 today aimed at the 10 friendship centres is roughly equal to what was lost by one friendship centre, Flin Flon. You took a dime and you gave us back a penny just before the election.


In 1993 when Manitoba friendship centres were forced to lay off staff and curtail programs, they attempted to raise funds locally. But of course, because of VLT activity in the communities, that proved very difficult. So, in effect, the friendship centres were hit with a double whammy.

Now in 1999 just before an election, the government is finally attempting to patch up some of the damages they have done in the past. We welcome all help to the friendship centres, but it is still a question of too little, too late. Thank you, Madam Speaker.