Yukon News

Yukon Party accuses Liberals of dismantling Yukon Housing board

Maura Forrest Wednesday February 8, 2017

Joel Krahn/Yukon News

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Yukon Party housing critic Wade Istchenko has questioned the Yukon Housing Corporation’s ability to handle urgent issues without a fully functioning board.

A former member of the Yukon Housing Corporation’s board of directors says he is “very disappointed” that the new Liberal government didn’t renew his appointment.

Reg Steers’s board appointment was set to expire on Feb. 16. He applied for renewal last December, but in early January, he received a dismissal letter from the government. He said he was given no explanation for the decision.

“I was very disappointed,” he said. “I did not know at that time that they had done the same thing to every member of the board.”

On Jan. 23, the Liberal government revoked the appointments of all six Yukon Housing board members and the chair, Janet Moodie. All of their terms were up for renewal at the end of January or in mid-February. The board consisted of Moodie, deputy chair Wayne Huffman, Ron McFadyen, Rebecca Edzerza, Emile Stehelin, Cheryl O’Brien and Steers.

Moodie is now the principal secretary to Premier Sandy Silver. McFadyen told the News that he had resigned from the board before his appointment was revoked, as he is leaving the territory.

But others, including Steers, were dismissed despite hoping to have their appointments renewed.

Steers said his first thought was that the Liberals wanted to fill out the board with their own supporters. He wondered if they thought he was a Yukon Party member. He’s not — he voted Liberal.

But he doesn’t believe the government owes him an explanation.

“They don’t really owe me anything. I’ve been there for 13 years,” he said. “I have no reason to be angry about it.”

The Liberals have appointed Fiona Charbonneau as the new deputy chair of the Yukon Housing board, and Carl Rumsheidt as a new board member.

But Steers worries that the new board will have trouble picking up where the outgoing members left off.

“I really wonder how a whole new board is going to come together and know what they’re doing without any background,” he said. “I’ve never heard of them dismantling a board entirely before.”

Yukon Party housing critic Wade Istchenko said the board “basically can’t govern” with no chair and only two members.

“We’ve never fired a complete board,” he said. “The Yukon Party never fired a complete board of directors in one sweep.”

He said the Yukon Party spoke with some board members who didn’t even know they’d been dismissed until the party told them.

Istchenko called on the government to explain its decision, and questioned whether the housing corporation would be able to address urgent issues like the housing crisis in Ross River without a fully functioning board.

“Boards make recommendations to the minister,” he said. “When you’ve got urgent housing needs like you have in Ross River … the government needs that guidance.”

In November, Ross River Dena Council Chief Jack Caesar sent letters to the three major political parties, claiming that nearly half of the houses in Ross River are unsafe to live in due to mould and other contaminants.

Speaking to the News Feb. 8, Housing Minister Pauline Frost said changes to the board do not affect day-to-day operations of the housing corporation.

“The Yukon Housing board of directors provides strategic advice. They don’t get involved in the operational activities of the department,” she said.

Frost said many of the previous members had been on the board for multiple terms, and it was time for a “new perspective.”

The Liberals are now aiming for a three- to five-member board, down from seven. A smaller board is sufficient, Frost said, now that there is also a housing action plan implementation committee that fills a similar role. The committee was formed after the territory’s housing action plan was released in June 2015.

“The Yukon Housing board provides strategic direction and advice, and we have the … committee that really looks at doing very similar things.”

Frost said there are enough experienced staff at Yukon Housing that there won’t be a loss of “corporate knowledge” from the turnover on the board.

She said the Liberals plan to fill the remaining board vacancies in the next two weeks.

Contact Maura Forrest at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

15 Comments

Yukoner wrote:
10:43am Tuesday February 21, 2017

In with the new and out with the old. There is nothing wrong with this. Change is good so people stop whining, I am sure the gov’t has bigger fish to fry.

AMAZING!!! wrote:
3:36pm Monday February 13, 2017

Wade is ‘the pot calling the kettle black’  how does this dude even still manage to get elected.
I also find it funny that the YP is pointing out a lot of mistakes they made that Silverman is trying to clean up.  Hassard/Istchenko/Cathers are all sticking their feet in their mouths.  They should leave governance altogether; or at least stop griping about changes they made while in power.  Makes you look ‘not-so-bright’  ‘lights are on but no one is home’  Can you say ’ liar’.  No knowledge of deficit, lol, yeah right!

M Wryter wrote:
2:15am Monday February 13, 2017

Again more nonsense of the liberal type. They cannot be trusted or believed. Look who’s leading the country to ruin with his policies. A pox on anything and everything liberal.

Frank wrote:
11:03pm Saturday February 11, 2017

  Firstly I’d like to congratulate Ms. Frost on her off and running approach to her portfolio. She’s right use resources at hand when you can.
Secondly: The Ross River housing crisis did not happen overnight. Where were the reports of what was needed to fix these places instead of running them into the ground.
Thirdly: Wade looks gobsmacked or dumbfounded . Wade this is how you action on these items.

Alan wrote:
9:51pm Saturday February 11, 2017

While you’re cleaning Yukon College is filthy dirty and needs a shake up desperately.

Mark wrote:
6:24pm Friday February 10, 2017

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out! Maybe they have found competant board members.That’d be a nice change.

Dawson wrote:
1:45pm Friday February 10, 2017

Anybody that has been in any position anywhere for 13 years needs to move on.

Woodcutter wrote:
7:06pm Thursday February 9, 2017

Many boards in the Yukon, which all have term limits, have members who have been reappointed many times.  Check out the college if you need an example.  I think it is time to drain the swamp as far as boards go and begin to follow the rules.  Anybody who sits on a board and has gone beyond the maximum time allowed, which is often 6 years, or one reappointment, should be dismissed.  This is a simple solution that levels the playing field and allows for some fresh ideas.

drum wrote:
10:36pm Wednesday February 8, 2017

They are appointed by the current government so the new board will be good friends of he Liberals.
When is someone in this new government going to actually say anything about the Liberal leader in Ottawa lying ( lying) about his promises to the people of Canada about electoral reform.  We expect this in the new government in the USA but not in CANADA - we are supposed to be so so so so different.

Welcome Wade wrote:
9:44pm Wednesday February 8, 2017

Hey Wade. Welcome back into the mix. Must have got yer bison.

ralpH wrote:
9:13pm Wednesday February 8, 2017

Of coarse the Yukon Party is upset. The only influence, any out going party has, is the one of patronage appointments to boards so there agenda carries on after they are gone. It is the right of the government in power, to ensure those that serve are doing the things they need done, to achieve their mandate. Cudos to Them for standing up and changing the status quo.

Crown Corpwhat wrote:
9:08pm Wednesday February 8, 2017

The purpose of the crown corp is to have a board that provides recommendations, they also provide strategic oversight and direction. Seems to me that Ms. Frosts comments minimize that important role. To say that “a committee fills that role and is doing a similar thing” indicates that Ms. Frost does not fully appreciate or understand the importance of a crown corp and a board of directors. Running a public entity by being an autocrat and ignoring the value of collective input, lets see how that works out.

Kyle wrote:
8:30pm Wednesday February 8, 2017

Who cares what YP says…

YP cronyism lives on! wrote:
3:19pm Wednesday February 8, 2017

With the Yukon College Board creating a plum job for the former YP Chief of Staff without any public notice or competition, cleaning out some of these boards is probably a good idea!

canon2000 wrote:
2:44pm Wednesday February 8, 2017

seems to me there was a issue with the health board at one point

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