Earth Hour gives McDonald’s ambience

McDonald’s has been accused of being the biggest purveyor of rain-forest-destroying, methane producing, hormone and antibiotic-laced beef on…

McDonald’s has been accused of being the biggest purveyor of rain-forest-destroying, methane producing, hormone and antibiotic-laced beef on the planet.

The restaurant has also been blamed for nurturing the demand for pollock, known as “crab with a ‘k,’” the trawling for filets-o-which has seriously decimated wild Pacific salmon stocks.

But for one hour Saturday, aided by an earlier shift to daylight-saving time, the Whitehorse McDonald’s turned its thoughts to Mother Earth, dimming the golden arches to a more earthly yellow and clicking off overhead fluorescents inside.

“We know individual contributions to efforts like this are incredibly important, and that joining together with other McDonald’s restaurants across Canada, we can make a big difference,” said local franchise owner Mike Thorpe in a news release.

Thorpe kept the fryers running throughout the global Earth Hour effort.

In collaboration with McDonald’s across the nation, the symbolic gesture saved an estimated 10,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, or the approximate annual consumption of one Canadian household.

Calls to McDonald’s public relations department in Vancouver requesting information on other initiatives the fast-food chain has made to save the environment did not yield a response.

But, according to annual reports, the restaurant does raise about $100,000,000 yearly to provide accommodations for the families of children undergoing treatment for life-threatening illnesses such as cancer.

Although several major cities, including London, England, Atlanta, Georgia and Calgary went completely black for Earth Hour, neither the territorial nor Whitehorse municipal governments participated.

Wal-Mart also shut out the lights Saturday, joining its counterparts in a corporate nod to energy consciousness. (BM)

Money for employment woes

The Yukon will receive nearly $4 million from the federal government to ease its labour shortage.

The money comes from the new National Community Development Fund, a $1-billion national program borne out of the 2007-2008 budgetary surplus.

Designed to assist regions in riding out economic fluctuations due to “global volatility and commodities markets,” the program will help with training and employment-entry programs, said Premier Dennis Fentie in a release.

His government wants to put the $3.8 million into three key areas.

They include recruitment and retention of employees in sectors that struggle to find workers, skills development for potential employees who wish to find jobs in their own communities or regions, and incentives to rejoin the workforce for Yukoners who are currently underemployed.

Meanwhile, the Yukon Federation of Labour is taking steps to protect a growing workforce demographic.

The Youth Health and Safety Conference will take place April 27-29 at the High Country Inn in Whitehorse.

“It is critical that we educate our youth so that they are better prepared when entering the workforce and are better educated on health and safety,” said federation president Alex Furlong in a release.

Earlier this year, Furlong made several public statements decrying unsafe work environments and a lack of safety training for young people.

The conference will allow youth to discuss their health and safety issues, and help them make informed choices on workplace safety rights and responsibilities.

It will host guest speakers from the Yukon and BC. (BM)

Forest Act needs public input

Yukoners with an interest in trees have another month to make their views known to the territorial government.

The Yukon forest-values focus group, which has been reviewing drafts of a Yukon forest act for the past two years, is urging people to get in touch with the government of Yukon, which will take comments until April 28th.

The focus group is comprised of a variety of stakeholders, including wilderness tourism operators.

The more responses the government receives, the better a new forest act will reflect the “diversity of forest values that are important to Yukon people,” said guide and focus-group member Blaine Walden in a release.

Until a satisfactory act is drafted, Yukon needs a  “forest stewardship act, not an old-fashioned tree-cutting act,” added fellow group member Sue Kemmett. (BM)