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

 

Building Psychologically Healthy Workplaces - Whitehorse Offering!

Building Psychologically Healthy Workplaces – Whitehorse Offering!

Yukon Federation of Labour is pleased to offer Building Psychologically Healthy Workplaces, a free 4 day program on how to evaluate and improve the mental health of workplaces.

Please register by commenting with your name, contact number and email address, at this link.  Space is limited and we will take names on so don’t delay!

Mental Health is the psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioural adjustment.

It includes an individual’s ability to enjoy life, and create a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience. Psychological health and safety refers to the absence of harm and/or threat of harm to mental well-being that a worker might experience in a workplace.

Yukon Federation of Labour, in conjunction with the BC Fed Health & Safety Centre, has developed this 4 day program designed to improve the psychological health of all workplaces. The 4 modules that make up this program are:

  • Workplace Bullying & Harassment
  • Preventing Workplace Stress
  • Accommodating Mental Health Issues
  • Understanding & Implementing the new CSA Psychological Health Standard

The curriculum focuses on personal safety factors as well as organizational factors and culture that are important to address.

A psychologically safe workplace is one that allows no significant injury to employee mental health in negligent, reckless or intentional ways and one in which every reasonable effort is made to protect the mental health of employees.

A workplace with an effective plan and strong commitment to psychological health will result in an enhanced ability to enjoy life, and create a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience.

Building Psychologically Healthy Workplaces - Whitehorse Offering!

National Day of Mourning

National Day of Mourning Ceremony

JOINT PRESS RELEASE: Yukon workers remembered at National Day of Mourning ceremony

Yukoners will gather for the Day of Mourning ceremony taking place at the Workers’ Memorial in Shipyards Park. The annual occasion honours Yukon workers who lost their lives to work-related incidents or occupational disease, and workers who were injured on the job.

“On Saturday, we will come together as workers, employers and family members to pay tribute to those who have died on the job,” said, President/CEO of the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board Kurt Dieckmann. “This ceremony also calls us to reflect upon the vital role that occupational health and safety plays in protecting our lives and wellbeing at work.”

Last year, almost 500 workers suffered a workplace injury that required time away from their jobs to recover. Since 1984, there have been over 60 workplaces fatalities, with one in 2017.

In Whitehorse, the ceremony is hosted by the Yukon Federation of Labour in partnership with the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board. This year’s prevention-focused theme is “Violence and harassment: Not part of the job.”

“The Day of Mourning reminds us of the worst that can happen to workers in the course of doing their jobs.” said President of the Yukon Federation of Labour Justin Lemphers. “These injuries can be physical or mental and this year’s theme draws our attention to preventing the serious harm that is done by workplace violence and harassment.”

The annual National Day of Mourning was started by the Canadian Labour Congress in 1985. Events are taking place in communities across the country.

Everyone is welcome to attend the Day of Mourning ceremony that will take place at 12:30 on Saturday, April 28, at the Workers’ Memorial in Whitehorse’s Shipyards Park.

Contacts:

Justin Lemphers
President
Yukon Federation of Labour
yfl@yukonfed.com
(867) 456-8250

Andrew Robulack
Manager of Social Marketing and Communications
Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board
andrew.robulack@gov.yk.ca
(867) 335-6040

Yukon minimum wage review - coming soon!

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.

The Push For Change – Whitehorse

Please join The Push For Change, the Whitehorse stop on a cross-country tour.

The Push for Change is a non-profit organization focused on the prevention of youth homelessness.  Mr. Joe Roberts has been raising awareness and fundraising for youth homelessness issues by pushing a shopping cart across Canada.  For more information, please visit: http://www.thepushforchange.com/
Date:          September 7th
Where:      Waterfront Healing Totem            Time: 4:30 p.m.
                     Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre                    5:30 p.m.
This free event starts at the Waterfront Healing Totem, followed by a walk to Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre where dinner will be served.  After dinner, there will be speeches from Yukon youth and Mr. Roberts.
Donations can be made in advance and at the event.  Proceeds from the event will be split between the Boys and Girls Clubs of Yukon and The Push For Change, and be put towards programming to prevent youth homelessness.
Event partners include:
and there’s room for more to join the movement!
If your organization would like to get involved, please contact Mr. Marc Gagne, Business Manager of UA Local 310 at 867-335-6582 or email.

Labour Day BBQ @ Shipyards Park

Yukon Employees’ Union is hosting the annual free Labour Day BBQ in Shipyards Park.

Date: September 4
Time: 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

This year, YEU is asking people to join them in building a Mountain of Mac.  This food is often in short supply at the Whitehorse Food Bank and YEU will be donating $1,000.00 of Mac & Cheese to help address this need.  You can join YEU in this effort by:

  • Contacting YEU and making a Mac Pledge (call 867-667-2331 or email contact@yeu.ca)
  • Bring your Mac to Shipyards Park on September 4 and add it to the mountain!
  • Donate directly to Whitehorse Food Bank

Please share this free event (via Facebook) with your family, friends and community.  Come for the food, for the community and for the massive Mountain of Mac.  We hope to see you there on September 4!

Yukon Federation of Labour has moved!

Yukon Federation of Labour has moved!

Our new address is:
Suite 209, 4109 Fourth Avenue
Whitehorse, Yukon
Y1A 1H6

YFL thanks Northern Allied Workers’ Society (NAWS) for being both a landlord and partner in labour.  While our shared location has ended, our partnership remains intact.

Times change and needs do too.  As a result of this renewal, YFL is now located on the second floor of the Taku Building, with entrances off Fourth Avenue and Main Street.  The Taku Building is LEED Certified and more about that can be viewed via this link.

Once you’re in the building lobby, you can either take the stairs or elevator to the second floor.  Take the hallway to the left and follow it until you see our sign.  Our office is fully accessible and our business hours are Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (closed for lunch from noon to 1:00 p.m.).

To all groups who were using the meeting room at the Strickland Street location, please contact Karen Tredger at NAWS to make future arrangements.  Karen can be reached via email at naws@northwestel.net or by phone at 867-456-8254.

NAWS also has office space for rent.  Please contact Marc Gagne at marcgagnelocal310@hotmail.com or by phone at 867-335-6582 to discuss rental options at the Strickland Street location.

Day of Mourning News Release

The Yukon Federation of Labour and Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board have issued a joint news release:

Day of Mourning Ceremony Has a New Home

April 25, 2017

WHITEHORSE: The annual Day of Mourning ceremony will move to its new permanent home at the Workers’ Memorial in Shipyards Park this year.

“The Government of Yukon has graciously permitted the ceremony to take place in its main building for years,” said Justin Lemphers, President of the Yukon Federation of Labour. “We deeply appreciate that, and offer our heartfelt thanks.”

“Now that the Workers’ Memorial is complete, however, it’s time for the ceremony to move there. It’s a permanent, public place that can be used by the community year-round,” Lemphers continued.

2016 saw three workplace-related fatalities. Two were due to occupational disease, the third occurred on the job. There were 1650 workplace incidents reported last year. 454 Yukoners had to spend time away from work to recover from injuries sustained there.

“The Day of Mourning reminds us of our shared responsibility for safety in the workplace,” said Kurt Dieckmann, President/CEO of the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board. “When we pause during the ceremony to reflect on family members, friends, and colleagues lost, we also renew our commitment to keeping ourselves and the people we work with safe and healthy at work every day.”

The Day of Mourning is also about drawing attention to common hazards in today’s workplaces.

“Protecting our minds from harm while at work is a priority in Yukon and across Canada,” said Lemphers. “Whether it’s about preventing trauma, bullying, or some other form of mental injury while at work, many organizations in the territory are making strides to protect their workers.”

This year’s Day of Mourning ceremony will take place at 12:30 on Friday, April 28, at the Workers’ Memorial in Whitehorse’s Shipyards Park. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Media contacts to arrange for an interview and further information
Justin Lemphers
Yukon Federation of Labour
yfl@yukonfed.com
(867) 456-8250

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Andrew Robulack
Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board
@YWCHSB_Robulack
andrew.robulack@gov.yk.ca
(867) 335-6040

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This notice is also posted at the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board website.

Photo credit – Deborah Turner-Davis of Yukon Employees’ Union