Letter to the Editor

Raise minimum wage  Open letter to the Yukon employment standards board, The Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition supports the recommendation of the…

Raise minimum wage 

Open letter to the Yukon employment standards board,

The Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition supports the recommendation of the Yukon employment standards board to increase the Yukon’s minimum wage to $8.25 an hour as of April 1.

In addition, we strongly support the indexing of the minimum wage to the cost of living, so that in future years the minimum wage will rise annually in accordance with the cost of living.

While we endorse this recommendation we do not feel that by itself an increase in the Yukon’s minimum wage will significantly reduce poverty.

In addition to raising the minimum wage for Yukon workers, the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition would like to bring attention to the issues of underemployment and the lack of employment benefits for part-time workers.

Many Yukoners are trying to make ends meet by working more than one job (part-time) — some individuals are working up to three jobs trying to make enough money to eat, clothe and shelter themselves and their families.

Added to that burden is the fact that most part-time workers are not entitled to benefits for their families such as dental plans, drug plans, optical plans, retirement plans or sufficient medical/disability benefits.

This lack of benefits and lack of hours tends to widen the gap even more between the ‘haves’ in our society and the ‘working poor.’

We also acknowledge that truly affordable housing must be a major component of a comprehensive anti-poverty strategy.

The Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition will continue to work on benefit and housing issues so as to significantly reduce poverty among Yukon families and individuals.

We continue to feel that a guaranteed annual income program would serve as a desirable model for the eventual elimination of poverty in Canada.

Sue Edelman, Ross Findlater, co-chairs  Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition, Whitehorse

On the buses

Re Handy Bus budget:

Thank you for your letter of December 12 and the news article of January 17 with regards to the Handy Bus.

However, I greatly disagree that more can’t be done from your department for those of us who are indeed captives at the mercy of the Handy Bus service and whatever funding you may supply.

The funding level is pegged at $184,000 a year, yet with only the present services supplied the city spends $230,000 a year.

In 2005, there were more than 100 wheelchair users registered for the service of the city’s one Handy Bus, since we can’t take regular public transit and affordable wheelchair-transit service is non-existent.

I was told that not all of the registered Handy Bus wheelchair users are from Whitehorse, but that they come from across the Yukon since there is but one hospital and everyone comes here for treatment.

To get certified for use of the Handy Bus, a wheelchair user needs to have a formed filled out at by-law by a recognized person or doctor stating our need of the service. 

This allows for much more than just persons confined to wheelchairs, but also for any ambulatory person who has a reason(s) that using public transit would be a hardship.

Therefore more than just Whitehorse should be a concern of your department.

The main use of bookings of the Handy Bus is for doctor/health, lawyers, grocery and prescription shopping, getting our mail, and social worker appointments, which I believe are called life needs — a concern of your department.

Most specialist doctors, physio health-care persons, and lawyers are in Whitehorse, so the everyone comes here for service.

Whitehorse residents also have a need for retraining/upgrading and visiting family, which I don’t think are concerns for your department, but that those of us in wheelchairs still need to keep us healthy.

Considering that there were more than 100 daily wheelchair users registered in 2005, and it comfortably only holds two wheelchairs at a time, this looks very busy. Factor registered ambulatory persons, and the number would probably double.

Our present bus is old and breaks down frequently, though it’s usually an electrical problem.

To take its place during the frequent breakdowns, there is an ancient bus that’s usually working.

The ancient bus only holds two wheelchairs at a time, so only two wheelchair users can be scheduled for the Handy Bus at any given time.

Not only do Whitehorse residents and the rest of the Yukon residents who have to use the Handy Bus service need two new buses, but we need a third bus so more wheelchair users can have more than a subsistence lifestyle.

Since the Handy Bus is so heavily booked, many registered users find it impossible to get bookings for more than half of what we need, let alone adding in a want or two.

Please rethink your position.

Christiane Cramp

Whitehorse

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