There were two losers in Dennis Fentie’s cabinet shuffle on Thursday.
And there was one winner — the Yukon public.
The appointment of Glenn Hart to the Health and Social Services portfolio should change the department’s direction.
That can only benefit the public.
The department needs a fix.
The first loser is Cathers, who was demoted from Health.
Under him, the department did bolster social assistance rates and increased support to daycares. But it’s relatively easy to spend money.
The tough stuff — the core problems within the government’s wealthiest department — haven’t changed.
It is adrift, a mess.
Cathers failed to tackle the problem of nurse recruitment and retention. And, as a result, Copper Ridge Place is foundering and the extended-care facility has yet to open.
Community ambulance issues were so badly handled last summer that volunteers walked off the job and, eventually, responsibility for the crews had to be shuffled to Community Services.
These and other problems are now in Hart’s hands.
Hart is a low-key minister — so much so, in fact, that he conjures up thoughts of Bernie Lomax (remember the film Weekend at Bernies?).
But Hart, a former civil servant, knows how departments work.
That may have helped him avoid controversy, a claim few other Fentie ministers can boast.
His record also suggests he might be the guy to tackle some of the tough issues in the Health and Social Services field.
The second loser is Archie Lang.
Once lauded as the busiest cabinet minister in Fentie’s team, Lang was stripped of Energy, Mines and Resources, Yukon Energy Corp. and the Yukon Development Corp.
Lang has failed to deliver lower power rates, flipflopped on the rate-stabilization fund, pushed through a controversial power deal with Carmacks Copper, OK’d a controversial exploration project in the Three Rivers region and has done little to expand the territory’s energy options in a time of skyrocketing diesel prices.
Now, Jim Kenyon will be tasked with sorting out the territory’s power problems by overseeing Yukon Energy and Development corporations.
Lang retains the relatively low profile Highways and Public Works and has been demoted to Community Services, a department Hart shepherded.
After years of oft-controversial and questionable decisions on the economic front, Lang has been sidelined.
And that, too, bodes well for the future. (Richard Mostyn)