Letter to the Editor

Survey causes discord Re Government Employee Morale: Who’s Hot, Who’s Not (the News, Dec.

Survey causes discord

Re Government Employee Morale: Who’s Hot, Who’s Not (the News, Dec. 12):

I am very disappointed the Yukon News has become a forum for disgruntled employees (mostly those who have left government) to air unsubstantiated grievances. The Yukon News has encouraged a “feeding frenzy” against Dennis Cooley and Robert Riches that smacks of a witch hunt.

While the Employment Engagement Survey may in itself be a useful instrument for uncovering strengths and weaknesses within a department, surely it was never meant to compare one department to another department or to pit departments and employees against one another. Allowing personal, public attacks against employees is just plain offensive to me.

Where does this stop? Who will be the next target?

Each department has a different mandate. Many are purely administrative in nature in that they provide a positive service to employees as in the case of Human Resources and Finance.

Others deal with very difficult issues as is the case in the Department of Justice where employees may be under a great deal more stress arising from being exposed to human tragedy, repeat offenders, public safety and family crises not to mention the fact that errors made by administrative workers and managers in departments such as this face more serious consequences. Each department has its unique strains, stresses, timelines, complications and workloads and, as such, the consequences for their actions vary greatly.

The Employee Engagement Survey will be more apt to reflect a truer, dependable reading in the fifth year of information gathering. This will result in departments being better able to analyze their strengths and weaknesses against past years rather than with other departments.

Departments must be encouraged to acknowledge their strengths and work to improve their weaknesses.

Whoever decided that it was a good idea to use the survey to pit departments and employees against each other has unleashed a torrent of unhealthy accusations and comments!

Editor’s note: The author, a Justice employee, asked for anonymity to avoid being the target of further discussions regarding this subject.

Name withheld

Whitehorse

Mental health demands more attention

One week in November was mental health week; there was much brouhaha in the media and the government. Then we went back to the status quo.

In the meantime, many Yukon families are struggling with a loved member being afflicted with mental fatigue, depression, anxiety, traumatic or chronic stress, bipolar (extreme mood swings) and schizophrenia, to name a few disorders.

Mental health week hit the news in the Yukon with such articles as, Territory Struggles With ‘Paltry’ Mental Health Services.

This same week saw the government of the day put in place the direction to invest in a mental health ward at our central hospital. This along with hiring of more mental health staff is a move in the right direction and we thank those responsible.

During this same week, I wrote Minister of Health Glenn Hart to initiate a meeting with a group of concerned parents and family members to discuss the urgent need for a “mental health residence,” a supportive housing unit where people can go when they’re released from the hospital.

As stated to Hart: “The first need in any type of healing is a shelter, a place to be secure and regain the necessary skills to become a whole person and a productive member in our society.”

This takes a committed group of family and health-care workers to ensure proper medication is being administered along with the necessary provision of counselling services and daily routine living in preparation for returning to work and the normality of life. No meeting has been arranged, there’s only been an e-mail acknowledging “we are reviewing the case and will get back to you shortly.” Since then there has been no response nor action as far as we are aware.

The stigma attached to those afflicted with mental disorders remains the same in our nation as it has for generations. The majority of our society think that these are sicknesses brought on by the fault of individuals or families and that the best avenue for our social structure is “out-of-sight-out-of-mind.”

Our elected officials and the greater public need to be educated on such afflictions. According to various studies, mental illness strikes from 13 to 22 per cent of Canadian children. But there is a lot of denial. In Canada’s health-care system, mental health has become the single most pressing health issue, yet the public doesn’t take it seriously and neither do many health professionals.

We have infrastructure money from various forms of government. Not to do anything until some tragic incident occurs is negligent. The cost of such a home program would, in my opinion, be recuperated and returned to our society many fold and in many different ways. The savings alone from the “revolving-door-syndrome” at the hospital would likely more than pay for such a program.

For those interested, in June the Globe and Mail reported a week-long series on mental health in Canada.

During November’s mental health week this same paper did another daily series titled, Breakdown: Canada’s mental health crisis.

Roger Rondeau

Whitehorse

Treasure the Peel Watershed

Open letter to Premier Dennis Fentie, Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Brad Cathers and Minister of Tourism Elaine Taylor,

I have travelled extensively in the Peel Watershed, having paddled the entire Peel River from the Ogilvie Bridge to Fort McPherson, the Bonnet Plume River and the Snake River.

The watershed of the Peel River and its major tributaries, the Blackstone, Hart, Wind, Bonnet Plume and Snake rivers is one of the largest roadless, mountain boreal wildernesses in the Yukon and in the world. I feel very strongly that it should remain this way and that it must be protected from all industrial and mining developments.

Large areas of pristine wildernesses like the Peel Watershed are becoming a rare treasure all over the world. I believe that as Yukoners and as Canadians we have a great responsibility to make sure that this magnificent network of little known and understood boreal ecosystems is preserved for the values of its wildlife, forests and its spirit of wildness.

More and more, science attributes great monetary and economic value to the services of pristine wilderness areas to human society. These services include provision of clean water, clean air, erosion prevention, acting as carbon sinks and climate stabilizers, to name only a few.

I urge the Peel Watershed Planning Commission and the Yukon government to accept the Yukon’s responsibility to protect these waterways and their sources, including wetlands, waterfowl habitat and fish populations, as well as the land area of the entire watershed.

In the Yukon we still have the chance to avoid the catastrophic and largely irreversible mistakes of other jurisdictions that have allowed large-scale and widespread industrial developments to destroy wilderness areas of inestimable value such as the Peel Watershed.

I urge the members of the Peel Watershed Planning Commission as well as Fentie, Cathers and Taylor to show true leadership and take bold and effective steps to ensure fast and effective protection of our unique natural treasure that is the Peel Watershed.

We live in a time in which pristine nature and wilderness is running out on a global scale.

It is time the people of the Yukon demand from our politicians the vision and leadership in the preservation of our natural areas of immense global value that we are entitled to expect from them.

Sabina Allofs

Whitehorse

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