Conservation joins labour on the election green

A second apolitical animal has stumbled into the election campaign: the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

A second apolitical animal has stumbled into the election campaign: the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

The society’s Yukon chapter, joined in a coalition by several Yukon groups, is pushing environmental issues through a “think green” campaign of posters, a website, telephone promotions and an upcoming Rock the Vote concert at Zola’s Café Doré on Thursday.

The campaign suggests 93 per cent of Yukoners want action on climate change, 88 per cent support protection of the Porcupine caribou herd and 88 per cent believe community health and environment health are linked, among other issues.

“What the coalition is trying to do is raise the profile of conservation issues during this election,” said Jim Pojar, executive director of CPAWS Yukon.

The project will cost between $10-$15,000, said Pojar.

Though the message is to think green — and though the campaign’s website features critical press about the Yukon Party government —there is no territorial Green Party.

That means the campaign can urge people to vote green without actually endorsing a party.

“We can’t endorse parties, that’s not allowed by Revenue Canada — we have to be non-partisan,” said Pojar.

“We want to share information, urge people to vote, and encourage environmentally aware or concerned voters to align their votes with their values.

“In other words, think green and consider which candidates best address those issues,” he said.

The society is a non-profit advocacy organization funded by donations and memberships.

The coalition includes CPAWS, Bringing Youth Towards Equality, Yukon Conservation Society, Raven Recycling, Yukon Environmental Network and Wilderness Tourism Association of the Yukon, said Pojar.

But the society is funding the bulk of the project, he added.

A public opinion poll that provides statistics used in the campaign cost about $20,000, said Pojar.

It would have been undertaken by CPAWS regardless of the election, so its price tag isn’t being added to the project’s final cost, he added.

Last week, the coalition sent a questionnaire to the Liberals, Yukon Party and the NDP. The response deadline was Monday at noon.

“We got responses from the Liberals, and NDP,” said Pojar this week.

The society hasn’t received a response from the Yukon Party.

There was a mix up at its campaign headquarters that left the questionnaire unread, he added.

The group had not received a response from the party as of press time on Wednesday.

The Yukon Federation of Labour waded into the election campaign last week, announcing a $40,000 campaign that pushes labour issues.

Contact Tim Querengesser at timq@yukon-news.com

n WCB

Rates not ready

The new Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board rates are not ready for release, according to board chair Craig Tuton.

“On June 20, the board gave direction for the 2007 rates,” said Tuton during the board’s annual information meeting on Tuesday.

“The actuary went away and did all the appropriate calculations, as directed, and they were presented to the board August 15.

“We reviewed those rates and realized the rates didn’t meet the requirements of the board.

“So we then gave directions to pursue a different option — an option that was presented at the time as percentages figures rather than specific rates.”

However, employers will pay more.

Assessment revenue from employers has increased by $2 million, to $11.6 million in 2005.

Employers are also paying more to the fund because the board reduced subsidies.

Faced with a surplus at the end of the 1990s, the board started subsidizing employers’ rates in 2000.

The board is weaning off those subsidies forcing employers to pay rates closer to 1999 levels.

Subsidies will be phased out completely by 2007.

The board’s 2005 annual report showed maximum weekly benefits to temporarily injured workers at $964, second-highest in Canada behind Nunavut.

“What incentive do people have to get back to work if their benefits are so high?” asked Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce president Andre Roothman, who was one of 14 people to attend the meeting.

The benefits are part of the Workers’ Compensation Act, which is being reviewed, and operates outside the control of the board, said Tuton, who is also manager for the Yukon Party’s re-election campaign.

“Yes, folks, rates are going up and that’s a fact of subsidies coming off,” he said.

“Frankly, the Yukon does a terrible job at workplace safety.”

There have been three workplace fatalities in the Yukon so far in 2006.

There was only one in 2005.

So far, there have been more workplace injuries in 2006 than there were in all of 2005, said Tuton. (GM)

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