Hospital Corporation ‘stipend’ is a disgrace

Hospital corporation 'stipend' is a disgrace I am aware that the Yukon Hospital Corporation functions as a separate entity at arm's length from the government, but I must express my dismay at the recent increase in stipends that the board has approved f

I am aware that the Yukon Hospital Corporation functions as a separate entity at arm’s length from the government, but I must express my dismay at the recent increase in stipends that the board has approved for itself.

In particular, I feel that the chair’s remuneration is excessive when one considers the debt that the corporation has amassed over the past six months.

As the chair of the Yukon Hospital Corporation from 2002 to 2006, I received an honorarium of $7,200 per annum and this has now escalated to an approximate stipend of $34,000 per annum. The change from “honorarium” to “stipend” in terms of payment, and the connotation are also noteworthy.

My understanding of my position as board chair was that one needed to uphold the trust of the public, and act on the behalf of public interests while demonstrating fiscal restraint and budget management in the face of escalating health care costs and rising expenditures (e.g. new hospital construction). The honorarium would be given to defray the chair’s expenses and recognize in a small way his/her contribution to the community in terms of time and expertise. In plain words, one was sharing his/her expertise and time to the community as a “service” and not as a “job” or a supplement to one’s income.

This current change hardly seems a prudent approach to sound fiscal management and the corporate governance of a Crown corporation. I would like to know if this new governance approach will follow suit in the other corporate boards, especially if the stipend increases occur without the prior approval of the management board.

The Hospital Corporation Board members should be aware that the timing of this decision and the optics reflect badly on their corporate image. Not many months ago, the current chair participated in the Health Care Review Committee and, as I recall, the exercise was to determine where our health care costs could be reduced.

One of the recommendations was to have nonemergency patients, who are referred Outside by their doctors, pay the first $200 of the airfare. Reimplementing the health-care premiums was also under consideration, although the premier has since denied that this would happen.

In view of these and other recommendations, the increases in the board’s stipends do appear to be excessive and in poor taste when you consider that many residents, especially the old-age pensioners, would have a struggle to find the money to afford them.

As a taxpayer and longtime resident of the Yukon, I have lost a great deal of respect for the board, and the government that has supported this change in the principles of corporate governance.

Marny Ryder

Whitehorse