Letter to the Editor

Small businesses operate in a climate of fear I have to write this letter to the editor anonymously because, like all small businesses, we are sick…

Small businesses operate

in a climate of fear

I have to write this letter to the editor anonymously because, like all small businesses, we are sick and tired of the Yukon government, and the Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board in particular.

Anonymously because I admit we are afraid of the repercussions they can bring against a business if they decide they don’t want to hear the truth.

In small businesses, our employees are our friends and we never want to see them hurt, or for that matter, our equipment destroyed by accidents (yes, the word accident means not planned).

Our staff are irreplaceable and safety is more important to a small business than it is to the government itself, or large construction companies and mines.

We do not have the big bucks and government funding to keep our businesses running if we lose even one employee.

Therefore, without wasting time writing safety rules down, we do everything we can to keep our business safe and open so we and our employees can earn a living.

There was a time small business was important to the Yukon and the government, but not anymore.

The government workers use dictatorship to enforce unnecessary rules that someone actually gets paid to dream up so they can appear important and keep their job.

They think we have people just sitting around writing up paperwork, like they do with this Choices program. Now, if we don’t, we will have to pay higher WCB rates.

Small business is forced to pay ridiculous WCB rates and even directors of small companies who work in their own homes doing “dangerous paperwork” are forced to pay the WCB rates assigned their business.

They may run a mining business, but are at no risk at all and do not even hope to do the type of work their business is rated at.

To add insult to injury (no pun intended) no small business director would ever lower themselves to collecting workers’ compensation, so it is all free money to the big business of government. At one time there was an option for directors, but dictatorship rules and there is no longer that choice left in the Yukon.

I believe workers’ compensation is an example of how poorly run this government has become.

Why is the entire blame put on the employer?

We pay our share of Employment Insurance and Canada Pension Plan for our employees; maybe they should be held responsible and pay their share of workers’ compensation.

If they knew it came out of their pockets, just like their vehicle insurance, they may become more aware of the financial burden that has been placed on the employer.

I have talked to my employees, who are totally unaware of how much we pay.

One more observation: that big, beautiful workers’ compensation building is not necessary. If they were not working in luxury, maybe that would benefit us by lowering our rates a bit.

However, now there is government’s famous make-more-government-jobs project, called Choices Incentive Program.

I have talked to many businesses that have a safety meeting every morning, including government, and their employees say it is a complete farce and a waste of time.

They get paid for doing nothing but listening.

Are we going to be safe today, boys and girls?

I am frustrated. Everyone I talk to is frustrated. 

Name withheld by request

Whitehorse

Mining industry shouldn’t slight environmental ethics

I have followed with interest and participated in the debate surrounding Cash Minerals’ Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment board application concerning the Wind River Trail.

I have worked in mining and mining exploration for over half my life. I have spent 25 years on the Wind River Trail.

I find it very disappointing to hear and read the opinions coming from the mining sector concerning this project. This is an industry that I care a great deal about.

Strong objections were made by some organizations and the general public in response to this application.

The answer to these objections by the Yukon mining community was to either dismiss them without consideration or to threaten “economic disaster” (i.e. mining exploration will be reduced in the territory).

It is my opinion that if this is the only response the Yukon mining community has to these objections then our industry is in trouble.

By becoming what the conservationists and environmentalists are objecting to, we hurt our industry.

I believe that our industry should be adopting an attitude of embracing criticism and moving to the cutting edge of environmental mining practices.

I have worked on mining exploration programs in this territory that made me proud to be in this industry.

For example, from 1995 to 1997, I worked in the Bonnet Plume River watershed for a mining exploration program. The basic ethic was respect for the special area they were working in.

Money, time and effort were spent cleaning up debris from past mining exploration programs and ensuring that this new environmental footprint was as small as possible.

This change in attitude is especially important in a place such as the Yukon. With every “right” that this industry espouses comes some heavy responsibilities. We live in a unique part of the world.

Unless there is leadership from governments, industry and citizens, we will lose this uniqueness.

The laws, which govern our industries must have a foundation: respect for other values, nature, wildlife and the land.

And this foundation must be clearly represented in everything we do if we hope to thrive as an industry.

I would hope that the Yukon mining community would be up to this challenge.

Bob Wagner

via e-mail