Health Department still flouting human rights laws

Mirek Krikorian smiles a lot. His mom jokes that it's his saving grace since he's a horrible sleeper. He babbles and is eating some soft food.

Mirek Krikorian smiles a lot. His mom jokes that it’s his saving grace since he’s a horrible sleeper.

He babbles and is eating some soft food.

But at five months old he still doesn’t have a birth certificate containing both his parents’ names.

That’s even after the Yukon government voted unanimously to make it possible.

Earlier this year, Whitehorse moms Cai Krikorian and Corinne Gurtler were told Gurtler couldn’t get her name on Mirek’s birth certificate unless she adopted her own son. That’s how the Yukon Vital Statistics Act dealt with same sex parents.

Krikorian and Gurtler called that discriminatory and filed a human rights complaint.

Health Minister Doug Graham was quick to promise a fix.

In May every MLA in the legislature voted in favour of the changes.

The new law does away with the adoption requirement and allows for up to four people to be included on a birth certificate.

“It’s been seven weeks since they passed the final reading and we have phoned the vital statisics office, I don’t know how many times, and we keep getting told, ‘two weeks, two weeks, two weeks,” Gurtler said.

The latest news is that it will likely be the end of July before any birth certificate is available.

“In the meantime they continue to hand out birth certificates to herterosexual couples,” Gurtler said.

The Department of Health and Social Services is maintaining that it can’t provide the family with a complete birth certificate until the amendments are proclaimed by Yukon’s commissioner.

“In order to do that, we need to have all of the forms that are prescribed in legislation done,” said spokesperson Pat Living.

Living said there’s a total of 26 forms, including a birth certificate, a death certificate and an application for name change.

“We have to make the changes, we have to get the changes approved, we have to get the forms translated and then we have to get the forms designed,” she said. “There is a process, and it’s unfortunate that it has taken us a little longer than we anticipated to make this happen.”

Cabinet spokesperson Elaine Schiman says Graham has directed his department to “make this change a priority.”

But a quick perusal of the Yukon Human Rights Act suggests the family could be given the birth certificate before any changes are official.

In fact, they may have qualified to get one all along.

Sexual orientation has been covered under the Yukon Human Rights Act since it was passed in 1987.

Section 39 says the human rights act supersedes all other acts in the territory, unless it is expressly stated otherwise.

The News pressed Living on why section 39 is not being applied in this case.

“Ultimately, Yukon government and the Yukon Human Rights Commission do not agree about what occurs when the Human Rights Act renders another piece of legislation inoperative, and what can be done when legislation is inoperative,” she said.

“Our position is still that YG cannot legally provide a birth certificate with both mothers on it until amendments are made to the Vital Statistics Act. The government is doing its job by ensuring its processes are legally compliant, which necessarily requires that any changes to statutory instruments be first put in place.”

Meanwhile, Gurtler says getting a birth certificate with both parents’ names is not a vanity exercise.

“Our child has no protection of the family right now. His only legal parent is Cai (who is his biological mother).”

For a trip to see family in the U.S. the couple had to get legal guardianship documents with Gurtler’s name.

Otherwise, if something happened her wife, Gurtler wouldn’t have been able to take her son back home.

Her name is not on Mirek’s passport because the passport office relies on the birth certificate, which right now only has one name.

“The birth certificate is his primary identification document and it’s false, it’s wrong,” Gurtler said.

Their son doesn’t have a social insurance number yet either, which means no registered education savings plan. They’re waiting until they’re both recognized so they can both contribute.

The human rights complaint is moving forward.

“We said enough,” Gurtler said. “They’ve had forever to get this problem fixed.”

Contact Ashley Joannou at

Just Posted

Sarah Walz leads a softball training session in Dawson City. Photo submitted by Sport Yukon.
Girls and women are underserved in sport: Sport Yukon

Sport Yukon held a virtual event to celebrate and discuss girls and women in sport

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. Whitehorse city council has passed a bylaw to allow pop-up patios in city parking spaces. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Bagged meter fees could be discounted for patios

Council passes first reading at special meeting

The Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell is among a number of sites that are expected to make more commercial/industrial land available in the coming years. (Submitted)
Council hears update on commercial land

Number of developments expected to make land available in near future

keith halliday
Yukonomist: Have I got an opportunity for you!

Are you tired of the same-old, same-old at work? Would you like to be a captain of industry, surveying your domain from your helicopter and enjoying steak dinners with influential government officials at the high-profile Roundup mining conference?

Clouds pass by the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, Friday, June 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Yukon government, B.C. company want Supreme Court of Canada appeal of Wolverine Mine case

Government concerned with recouping cleanup costs, creditor wants review of receiver’s actions.

The Village of Carmacks has received federal funding for an updated asset management plan. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Federal funding coming to Carmacks

The program is aimed at helping municipalities improve planning and decision-making around infrastructure

Paddlers start their 715 kilometre paddling journey from Rotary Park in Whitehorse on June 26, 2019. The 2021 Yukon River Quest will have a different look. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
The 22nd annual Yukon River Quest moves closer to start date

Although the race will be modified in 2021, a field of 48 teams are prepared to take the 715 kilometre journey from Whitehorse to Dawson City on the Yukon River

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its June 7 meeting

Letters to the editor.
This week’s mailbox: the impact of residential schools, Whitehorse Connects, wildfires

Dear Editor; Anguish – extreme pain, distress or anxiety. Justice – the… Continue reading

PROOF CEO Ben Sanders is seen with the PROOF team in Whitehorse. (Submitted)
Proof and Yukon Soaps listed as semifinalists for national award

The two companies were shortlisted from more than 400 nominated

The RCMP Critical Incident Program will be training in Watson Lake from June 14-16. Mike Thomas/Yukon News
RCMP will conduct three days of training in Watson Lake

Lakeview Apartment in Watson Lake will be used for RCMP training

John Tonin/Yukon News Squash players duke it out during Yukon Open tournament action at Better Bodies on June 5.
Four division titles earned at squash Yukon Open

The territory’s squash talent was on full display at the 2021 Yukon Open

Most Read