Give the free
market a chance
Re: Election stalled progress on labour shortage (The News, November 19)
For some time we’ve been bombarded with messages about the Yukon’s labour shortage.
But what about giving free market principles a chance?
These days, we all know that the economy is red hot and are watching prices for building materials, housing and even groceries rise in leaps and bounds every year.
What we are seeing is the simple result of the free market principles that we embrace in this capitalist society.
Demand is high, supplies and manufacturing abilities are limited and so prices go up.
This is good for our economy because it rewards people willing to take risks. Entrepreneurs must be able to make good money, and they are doing so at this moment.
In Whitehorse we are also seeing many families no longer able to afford a new home despite both of the partners working good jobs.
In my economy courses I was taught that the free market mechanism of supply and demand would balance out any inequalities in the system.
As we are seeing a period of high demand for goods, manufacturers logically have a higher demand for labour.
Applied to the current market situation in the Yukon, this would mean that salaries should start to rise so more people would be willing to relocate to the Yukon.
However, now we are seeing that employers are asking the government to relax the rules on temporary worker permits so cheaper labour can be attracted to the Yukon.
Yukoners are well aware that we are living far away from the larger city centres that bring with them many attractive conveniences.
When we came here to live, most did so knowing that life is more expensive than down south.
In many cases, the decision to come here was made based on the fact that salaries in the Yukon are higher.
By allowing temporary workers to come to the Yukon, our labour market will be distorted.
Salaries will no longer have the upward pressure that the Yukon needs to attract people to come and stay here, to make sure people can afford good housing, to start building a good tax base for the territory, and to sustain the local economy for a long period of time.
Once I asked a local how he ended up here and he mentioned that he was working down south as a mechanic’s apprentice for $7 per hour and that he got an offer to start in the Yukon for $10 per hour, plus room and board.
He moved to the Yukon, finished his apprenticeship and, eventually, started a successful business here.
So what about giving the free market a chance?
Re: Stakeholders missing at utility board hearing, (The News, November 15)
This article explained why the Utilities Consumers’ Group was deeply concerned with lack of participation from stakeholders in the capital rate hearing of Yukon Energy Corporation.
Yukon Electrical Company Ltd. explained its reasoning, but there was no Association of Yukon Communities, no Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, no Yukon Chamber of Commerce, no Yukon Chamber of Mines, no secondary industry users, no independent power producers and last, but perhaps most important, no mines or industrial use customers.
After all, any decision on construction of energy facilities and transmission lines of up to $50 million, like the short-term projects proposed, will affect not only our present electrical rates, but our children’s and grandchildren’s.
The article then went on to report that UCG was accusing Yukon Energy of making “backroom deals.”
This was not exactly what was stated by UCG.
The consumers group was trying to explain its frustration with the lack of the mines at the hearing so that we could hear, firsthand, their plans for connection to hydro.
We pointed to a perception of backroom dealing, as these were the facts presented in the evidence placed before us at this hearing.
Yukon Energy is basically asking its firm ratepayers to sign a blank cheque and then to trust its negotiations with Sherwood Copper Resources and perhaps later with Carmacks Copper.
Yukon ratepayers need to know what securities will be required of these mines to protect ratepayers from the risks of financing the transmission line from Carmacks to each mine, and the construction of Aishihik No. 3 hydro turbine to service these two mines, and of the failure of the longevity of the mines to purchase power — for instance, if the mines shut down prematurely.
Roger Rondeau, Utilities Consumers’ Group president, Whitehorse
The Canada Games Host Society is operating the NorthStay program in which Whitehorse residents can rent out their houses for a minimum of $1,600 per week.
Apparently this is a popular program, as many of my neighbours and friends have told me they are going to be absent during the Games because of this initiative.
They’ll likely be somewhere tropical, maybe Hawaii. Or Winnipeg.
Yukon government employees are getting paid to volunteer for the Games.
Much has already been written about the level of discontent with this pay-to-volunteer policy.
Yet here I remain, one of the “suckers” who is volunteering my time to make the Games happen, and not getting paid a dime to do so as I don’t hold down a government job.
While most of Whitehorse is bailing for warmer climates — abandoning the Games altogether — the few of us who remain must carry the entire event.
What happened to our community spirit and support? Last time I checked, volunteer was akin to free.