Bonds buoy WCB investments in turbulent times

As the Liberals' Eric Fairclough tells it, the Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board lost $20 million in the past year through risky and possibly illegal investments.

As the Liberals’ Eric Fairclough tells it, the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board lost $20 million in the past year through risky and possibly illegal investments.

But only parts of this tangle of allegations are true, says Mark Hill, spokesman for the board.

True: the board changed its investment policies in June of 2007.

Also true: the board’s investments saw $19.7 million in unrealized losses in 2008.

What’s false is to suggest that the board’s decision to put 2.5 per cent of its portfolio into BBB bonds resulted in these losses, said Hill.

Quite the contrary.

“Actually, that’s the part that made money,” said Hill.

As the value of stock market investments plummeted in 2008, the board’s bond investments were the only part of its portfolio to generate returns. Altogether, the board’s mixture of A and BBB bonds earned about $5 million in 2008, offsetting some of the hurt caused by slumping stock prices and resulting in a net loss of about $15 million, or 10.7 per cent.

This hurts, but it could have been far worse. The board ranked among the top quartile of fund managers, said Hill.

And these losses won’t be realized unless the board was forced to cash out its investments.

This shouldn’t happen. The board remains fully funded, which means workers shouldn’t worry about the security of their benefits, said Hill.

Then there’s the question of whether the board was allowed to make changes to its investment policy.

To do so, it needed cabinet approval. This is formally recorded as an order in council.

No such order exists.

Nevertheless, cabinet approved the board’s new investment policies in June of 2007, said Hill. “We have an e-mail with the minutes,” he said.

The board plans to make changes so that such lapses don’t happen again, said Hill.

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mayo-Tatchun MLA Don Hutton sits on the opposition side of the legislative assembly on March 8 after announcing his resignation from the Liberal party earlier that day. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Don Hutton resigns from Liberal caucus; endorses NDP leadership

Hutton said his concerns about alcohol abuse and addictions have gone unaddressed

Crystal Schick/Yukon News
Calvin Delwisch poses for a photo inside his DIY sauna at Marsh Lake on Feb. 18.
Yukoners turning up the heat with unique DIY sauna builds

Do-it-yourselfers say a sauna built with salvaged materials is a great winter project

d
Wyatt’s World

Wyatt’s World for March 5, 2021.

g
Yukonomist: School competition ramps up in the Yukon

It’s common to see an upstart automaker trying to grab share from… Continue reading

The Yukon government responded to a petition calling the SCAN Act “draconian” on Feb. 19. (Yukon News file)
Yukon government accuses SCAN petitioner of mischaracterizing her eviction

A response to the Jan. 7 petition was filed to court on Feb. 19

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

The Yukon government says it is working towards finding a solution for Dawson area miners who may be impacted by City of Dawson plans and regulations. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Miner expresses frustration over town plan

Designation of claims changed to future planning

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
2022 Arctic Winter Games postponed indefinitely

Wood Buffalo, Alta., Host Society committed to rescheduling at a later date

Housing construction continues in the Whistle Bend subdivision in Whitehorse on Oct. 29, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Bureau of Statistics reports rising rents for Yukoners, falling revenues for businesses

The bureau has published several reports on the rental market and businesses affected by COVID-19

Council of Yukon First Nations grand chief Peter Johnston at the Yukon Forum in Whitehorse on Feb. 14, 2019. Johnston and Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn announced changes to the implementation of the Yukon First Nations Procurement Policy on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Third phase added to procurement policy implementation

Additional time added to prep for two provisions

Crews work to clear the South Klondike Highway after an avalanche earlier this week. (Submitted)
South Klondike Highway remains closed due to avalanches

Yukon Avalanche Association recommending backcountry recreators remain vigilant

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

Most Read