Yukon Party insider’s stipend under fire

Yukon Party lynchpin Craig Tuton makes $500 per day, in some circumstances, as chair of the Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board.

Yukon Party lynchpin Craig Tuton makes $500 per day, in some circumstances, as chair of the Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board.

That fee is higher than that paid to the chair of any other Yukon board.

And it is part of a 25-per-cent increase in administrative costs that is being dumped on the backs of employers and workers through increasing rates, said Liberal critic Don Inverarity.

“Workers and employees are complaining that their rates are really high,” said Inverarity on Thursday.

“I think that we need to look at putting the blame more off of workers and employers, and have them (Tuton and the compensation board) part of the whole equation.

“They need to look at their role” in the high rates, he said.

The board can have up to six members, as well as a vice-chair and the chair, making eight.

Recent changes have seen the board reduced to four, along with the vice-chair and chair, making six.

One would expect that would lead to savings.

But the rates board members can earn in the new scenario have been increased, from $200 to $375 per day, said Inverarity.

And Tuton’s honourarium as chair has increased from $300 to $500 per day. (Tuton is a longtime Yukon Party manager).

“They said at the time it was revenue-neutral,” said Inverarity. “But if you look in the recommendations from the WCB act review panel, they actually calculated that it’s costing almost $675 a day more to do it with four members than six.”

The pay increases at the workers’ board — which in government-speak is a class ‘D’ panel — haven’t been made for 27 other boards in the same class, said Inverarity.

That’s leading him to go after Tuton.

Why does the board, with Tuton chairing, receive more money while other important boards, such as the Yukon Energy Corp. board, don’t? he asked, hinting he knew the answer.

“You don’t think it has anything to do with the fact that he was the campaign chairman for the Yukon Party? That’s what I think.”

The workers’ board membership decides its own honourarium amounts.

But the minister responsible for the Workers’ Compensation Board, Brad Cathers, has final say over all decisions, said Inverarity.

He is pleased with Tuton’s work and suggests he’s a bargain — he’s united the two once-warring sides, Cathers said.

“If Mr. Inverarity’s issue is that the board might be spending a few hundred dollars, more or less, per meeting than they might have before, I think that’s kind of a pointless debate,” said Cathers on Thursday.

“If you look back 10 or 15 years, there was a period for quite some time where the employer representatives and the labour representatives on the Workers’ Compensation Board were practically at each other’s throats.”

When Tuton was nominated last fall, he was the first chair nominated by both the largest labour group and employee group, he said.

What about the increased honourarium rates?

 “I think the rationale behind it — you have to realize there’s a lot of preparation work for members on the Workers’ Compensation Board to do their job effectively,” said Cathers, noting the rates are set by the board itself and that they applied to all members, not only Tuton.

Compared to most Canadian jurisdictions, the Yukon’s WCB rates are not higher, he said.

Tuton didn’t return phone calls before press time.