July 15, 2018 Extension for Minimum Wage Survey

July 15 – Yukon Minimum Wage Survey Extended

The Employment Standards Board has added another week for people to provide input regarding the Yukon minimum wage.

EXTENDED SURVEY DEADLINEJuly 15 2018Survey closes at midnight!

Yukon Federation of Labour has received membership feedback about the online version of the survey.

What we heard:

  • The survey welcome page is only in English, French is an option but the selection dialogue is all in English
  • The survey provides a definition for Consumer Price Index (CPI), yet no other terms are defined, e.g.: Market wage rates
  • The demographic information section of the survey has gated questions and responses, instead of being fully transparent
  • The age brackets should be more inclusive, i.e.: there should brackets for 12 to 18, 19 to 29, 60 to 69, 70 to 79, and 80 plus
  • The wage range section should include an option for pay below the current minimum wage, and then default to the “other” field for the dollar amount
  • Impacts on employers’ costs and business viability – An employer who can’t support a decent wage either becomes their own employee or doesn’t run a business
  • Market wage rates – Presumably this refers to different wages per employment sector, a practice which promotes inequality and runs counter to why minimum wage was first created
  • Parity with other jurisdictions – Define jurisdictions, or let’s assume this refers to the progressive provinces which have already committed to $15/hour

Our Concerns:

Overall, YFL is disappointed with this survey and will be putting the following questions before the Employment Standards Board:

  • As a known labour stakeholder, why wasn’t YFL approached for input on the survey design?
  • Why is there no mention of a living wage, when the discriminatory “market wage rates” section is included?
  • Why wasn’t there a Yukon government press release or news release about the survey?
  • Why isn’t the survey available through the new Yukon government website?  It’s currently only posted on the old Yukon government website.

Our Position:

If public and stakeholder input truly is a priority, Yukon Federation of Labour would expect a public press/news release, prominent placement on the new Yukon government website, and, an opportunity to partner in the creation of a minimum wage survey, instead of learning about it after it has launched.

Click here to read our previous post on this issue.

Here’s the text from YG’s old website:

The Employment Standards Board is reviewing Yukon’s minimum wage at the request of the Government of Yukon.

The deadline has been extended to July 15 for the general public to provide their feedback through an online survey. Yukon labour groups, business organizations, and other stakeholders are invited to provide their written feedback about potential impacts on employees and the business community.

The online survey can be accessed until midnight on July 15.

For more information, please contact Employment Standards at 667-5944 or toll free 1-800-661-0408 local 5944 or employmentstandards@gov.yk.ca


Minimum Wage Survey

Have your say on Yukon’s Minimum Wage

The Yukon Minimum Wage Review Board is looking for your input, albeit quietly.   There is a survey running from June 8 to July 8, 2018.  Despite identifying as an interested party directly with Minister Streicker, Yukon Federation of Labour only learned about the survey in a letter received on June 19, 2018.

YFL questions why the survey wasn’t announced with a Yukon government press release.  We also are curious why the survey and information about it is hosted on the old Yukon government website.

Nonetheless, we are pushing the survey information out to our membership and the general public.

A Living Wage is a Decent Wage

Currently, Yukoners who rely on minimum wage earn $11.51 per hour. And that’s before any tax comes off the top. Most minimum wage discussions tend to go down the path of cost, instead of decency. Let’s take a quick look at the cost side so we can better understand the argument for decency.

Let’s imagine a worker putting in 60 hours a week at two different minimum wage employers (with no overtime). At the current minimum wage, their take home is just under $33,000 a year after taxes.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Now, given the recent rent survey completed by Yukon Bureau of Statistics, let’s assume our worker is single and pays the average rent for all types of rental units, $1,184.00 per month. Over a year, that total comes to $14,208.00. Nearly half of our worker’s income is gone in rent.

I could go on, but I imagine folks can predict where this math leads. Come year-end, a worker with one full-time and one half-time job has been able to little more than meet their survival costs.

The only decent alternative to the minimum wage is a living wage.

In Yukon, the current living wage is calculated as $18.26 per hour. Quite a jump from the current minimum wage of $11.51 per hour. The reason for the gulf between the two values comes down to what they were/are intended for:

  • The minimum wage was introduced in 1975 to prevent exploitation of women and youth in the workplace.
  • The living wage is designed to bring individuals and families out of poverty and into a place of economic security, or decency.

Times have changed since 1975 and businesses have become powerful lobby groups which are shamefully given the same rights as people. What has been lost along the way, is the understanding that businesses exist to fill the needs of the people. If people can’t afford the costs of goods or services, businesses will starve and die.

Making decisions on how much people should earn, based on the cost to business, is indecent.

Providing people with a decent income would result in more spending on goods and services. Plus, people who aren’t on the knife’s edge of poverty have much better quality of life, meaning less cost to our health care system. Healthy, happy, decently living people attract more of the same, which would lead to positive population growth for the Yukon. And the more people who call Yukon home, the more income for businesses. The benefits go on and on.

It’s time for Yukon government to make the right choice, and support individuals and families in their ability to live a life of decency.

For more information about the Yukon Living Wage, click here.

For information about the survey, please click here to go the Yukon government page, or click here to link to the survey directly.

Here’s the text from YG’s website:

The Employment Standards Board is reviewing Yukon’s minimum wage at the request of the Government of Yukon.

From June 8 – July 8, the general public is invited to provide their feedback through an online survey. Yukon labour groups, business organizations, and other stakeholders are invited to provide their written feedback about potential impacts on employees and the business community.

The online survey can be accessed until midnight on July 8.

For more information, please contact Employment Standards at 667-5944 or toll free 1-800-661-0408 local 5944 or employmentstandards@gov.yk.ca


Yukon minimum wage review - coming soon!


Yukon Federation of Labour is pleased with the minimum wage review announced by Yukon government.  Read on for the text, or click here to see the original announcement.

Published 27/02/2018

Minister of Community Services John Streicker announced today that he will ask the Employment Standards Board to conduct a review of Yukon’s minimum wage.

The review will follow recent increases and announced increases to the minimum wage in other Canadian jurisdictions that will see Yukon’s minimum wage drop to 7th place in Canada by May 2018.

When conducting a minimum wage review, the Employment Standards Board analyzes minimum wage trends throughout Canada and examines relevant data from the Yukon Bureau of Statistics. The Board also reviews best practices for implementing potential minimum wage changes and consults with stakeholders – including the business community and labour organizations – about the potential impacts on businesses and their employees.

The minimum wage review will take approximately six months to complete, after which the Board will make recommendations to the Minister of Community Services for any changes to minimum wage rates and other regulations surrounding minimum wage.

By May, 11 Canadian jurisdictions will have raised or announced plans to raise their minimum wage in the past year alone, dropping Yukon into the lower half nationally. In anticipation of these changes, our government believes it is time for a review of Yukon’s wage to ensure it remains competitive within the national context and balances the needs of both employers and their employees.

Quick Facts

On April 1 each year, Yukon’s minimum wage increases according to the annual increase in the Whitehorse Consumer Price Index. The annual increase for 2018 will not be affected by the minimum wage review.

Yukon’s minimum wage is currently $11.32 and will increase to $11.51 on April 1, 2018, based on the Whitehorse Consumer Price Index for 2017.

Yukon’s minimum wage currently ranks 6th highest in the country.

The last review of the minimum wage was conducted in 2012, and resulted in an increase of $1.03 per hour above the Consumer Price Index increase.

We note an increase based solely on the CPI (Consumer Price Index) is a small movement toward a Living Wage of $18.26/hour as presented by the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition.

Yukoners who are struggling to survive on minimum wage (or mutiple minimum wages, when one isn’t enough) deserve more.  They deserve the opportunity to plan for retirement versus planning what they can afford to put in their grocery market basket.

YFL looks forward to working as a stakeholder with the Employment Standards Board, to provide information on minimum wage implications and living wage needs in Yukon.

Click here for information about the Employment Standards Board, its mandate and members.


Whitehorse CRA office returns … sort of

The Yukon Federation of Labour is disappointed with Minister Lebouthillier’s announcement regarding the re-opening of a Canada Revenue Agency office in Whitehorse. The CRA news release (read in full here) states:

“The cornerstone of the initiative is the CRA-supported tax preparation centre, where volunteers from the CVITP (Community Volunteer Income Tax Program) will provide advice to eligible individuals and help them with their taxes. CVITP members will undergo a rigorous and tailored training from CRA officers, and will be supported by CRA to ensure the quality and expertise of the services rendered.  If a volunteer is not available or if a tax situation is complex, clients will be able to use a dedicated phone line at the Elijah Smith Building to contact a CRA agent who specializes in tax questions specific to northern residents.”

A CRA office is needed in Whitehorse, that much is true.  Staffing it with volunteers is ridiculous.  It is also shameful coming from a government that committed to rebuilding public services.

The closure of the Whitehorse CRA office in 2012 was met with concern and condemnation from residents and business owners.  Since that time, Yukoners have had access to a toll-free number to try and address any tax issues they were faced with.  Minister Lebouthillier’s announcement does not amount to a significant change or improvement, it only represents more costs.

Taxpayers will now be paying for office space to house a telephone and a volunteer – when a volunteer is available.  The mention of availability suggests the office may not have regular hours.  This could easily create both cost and inconvenience for people who travel in from the communities only to find the office closed.

If paid staff are already serving Yukoners by phone, why not locate them in Whitehorse?  The value these positions would add to the territory is measurable.  Not to mention dealing with people, face-to-face, in the same time-zone, would help reduce the stress frequently associated with taxes.

Being the public face of CRA means far more than having a few courses.  Taxation is a broad subject and the intricacies of finance can be incredibly complicated.  It is often compounded by emotional situations, such as when a family member dies, bankruptcy or divorce.  Staff need to be able to work with clients who may be distraught, angry or suicidal.  To offload this responsibility to the backs of volunteers is unjust.

YFL would also like to know the answers to these questions:

  • What training will the volunteers need in order to be qualified to advise the public?
  • How will a volunteer know when “a tax situation is (too) complex”?
  • CRA waives fees and penalties when staff provide incorrect advice, will they do the same for volunteers?
  • Could volunteers be personally liable if they provide incorrect advice?

The Yukon Federation of Labour encourages Yukoners to contact Minister Lebouthillier and M.P. Bagnell, and make their opinions known.

Yukon taxpayers deserve to be treated like the valued clients they are.  Servicing our territory with volunteers falls far short of the standard Yukoners are due.


Greed is a problem for humanity. Employers have become rich off the backs of the working populace. Workers, on the other hand, have being forced into long working hours by bosses in unsafe working conditions and for little pay. Unions exist to equalize the imbalance of wealth. The Government of Canada has recognized that and proclaimed the first Monday in September to be a stat holiday for workers.

The world of bosses has changed, with some Corporations becoming the most oppressive group of employers this world has yet seen. Mass unemployment, human rights abuses, ignoring health and safety laws and moving companies to a different country for a cheaper workforce show blatant disregard for the working person.

Corporations have seen an unprecedented rise in power through globalization with more economic status than most of the world’s countries. In the US, in 1886, a court ruled that Corporations are, under the 14th amendment, a natural person with all rights and free voice of a true person. This gave them access to lobbying, controlling educational institutions, and to convince the public of their charitable nature through creating non-profit organisations. Many unions, churches and charitable organisations still fight for these same rights.

Since then, Corporations have convinced governments and political parties-in-waiting that cheap labour and globalization is the only way that the economy will survive, an idea created and supported by neoliberal think tanks. Corporations influence elections by providing money to political parties, which can be seen to take control of governments. In Canada, when listening to the corporations lobbyist efforts, Governments are giving the public less of a dedicated input on the services they are provided by promoting privatization, fighting back on a decent minimum wage, not ensuring affordable housing, and not signing our healthcare/pharmacare accords to keep it affordable. Trade agreements are being negotiated that cut job availability for Canadians, while bringing in a foreign working class who will work for much less, no given proper health and safety training, and often be sent home when no longer useful or have been whistle blowing on their employers.

Unions are more important than ever before. As the voice of the workers, we are a major player in the checks and balances of government decisions and legislative actions. We have the power to cull the work of the oppressive corporations by boycotting, unionizing workplaces and educating the public about the truth. Our voice must be heard not only in our local meetings but in the streets, in our meetings with government officials, on the boards we hold positions on and in public information pickets and gatherings.

Yes, we still need Labour Day to remember past struggles and spread the message of solidarity.

Happy Labour Day to all and the struggle continues.

Vikki Quocksister
Yukon Federation of Labour

Canada Enters a New Political Era or Has It?

On October 19th, Canadians went to the polls with the largest numbers of voters for over twenty years, zeroing in on the goal  to make change with the hopes to get rid an oppressive style government. Throughout the campaign,  the three primary parties struggled for votes and the election promises crossed boundaries with former party lines becoming blurred. For many, the choice of whom to vote for had citizens struggling whether to vote with their heart or use their vote in a strategic bid to make a change.

In Yukon, Liberal Larry Bagnell,  defeated incumbent Conservative Ryan Leef as Yukon numbers showed the second highest voter turnout of all provinces and territories across the country. Having the MP previously,  Mr. Bagnell is well known by Yukoners.

The Yukon Federation of Labour, while welcoming MP Bagnell to his position as Yukon’s representative, took the opportunity to remind him of the Liberal Party campaign promises to unions that will repeat a number of harmful bills passed by the previous government. Bill C-377, which publically opens all financial statements to the CRA of all unions and impacts bargaining abilities is one of the most recent. Bill C-525, a bill that changes the way that unions can organise under the Canadian Labour Code and Bill C-4 which attacks federal workers human rights, healthcare rights and interferes with the collective bargaining process and deny arbitrations.  See the following story in the Huffington Post regarding Bill C-4.

Save Canada Post is also a mantra that many Canadians may have heard. Two years ago, the Crown Corporation, an arms length business whose sole stakeholder is the Federal government, submitted a five-point plan with the intent to end door-to-door delivery. The Liberal government has promised to reverse this plan and save home delivery.

Some of the other promises include creating better opportunities for young Canadians and making post-secondary education more affordable, fixing the EI system, signing a new health accord, fighting poverty, and enabling better jobs with skills training. More promises offered better compassionate care, working with federally regulated workers to create flexible work opportunities, an improved childcare framework, and others that affect workers.

With so many campaign promises, repealing and amending some of the damaged relationships with unions, the Liberal Government will have their hands full for the next 4 years. Will the new government be able to keep their word?

Canada has voted to give them another chance.  The Yukon Federation of Labour will be forefront in speaking with our new MP, as the voice for Yukon’s workers to remind the government of many of its campaign promises.

For now, though, we can breath and know that at least there is hope for change.


Vikki Quocksister