At the Legislature

Daniel MacIsaac
Northern News Services

NNSL (May 14/99) - Roy Erasmus made what appeared to be a last-ditch effort at finding more money for the hotly contested education budget Wednesday, by proposing that $7.7 million be injected into training for special needs children on an annual basis.

While five members supported the Yellowknife North MLA's motion and none opposed it, there was little chance it would effect the following budget debate -- since all five cabinet ministers abstained from voting.

Premier reacts to attack

The cabinet is involved in a review of all aspects of benefits for ministers -- including salaries, expenses and severance -- Premier Jim Antoine said Wednesday.

The premier's announcement came on the heels of revelations by Hay River MLA Jane Groenewegen that four Nunavut cabinet ministers resigned their NWT posts just days before their terms ended March 31 in order to receive two-month severance packages.

Groenewegen praised the quick response by the premier, who said recommendations will be ready in the next several weeks.

On the road

The highways in the North will be improved thanks to a proposed $80 million infusion of cash, Vince Steen said Tuesday.

The transportation minister said he's been involved in national highway strategy meetings that may see Ottawa contribute roughly $80 million over five years, toward the development of the territory's 535 kilometres of highways.

The minister added the GNWT's financial contribution to the strategy is yet to be decided.

Steen's announcement came just a week after MLAs voted to speed the process of reconstructing Highway 3 between Yellowknife and Rae-Edzo, currently slated to take place over a 10-year period.

Candy smokes targeted

Banning the sale of candy cigarettes was one of the novel proposals for anti-smoking legislation made by Roy Erasmus in the assembly Wednesday.

The Yellowknife Centre MLA also suggested eliminating cigarette vending machines and introducing photo identification to prevent minors from buying tobacco products.

Health and Social Services Minister Floyd Roland promised to review the ideas.