Yukon Hospital Corporation board members who were overpaid for six months won’t return the money they were given, Craig Tuton said Wednesday.
Between December 2009 and June 2010, as much as $17,600 was issued to the board in breach of a government order in council.
The board’s keeping the money, said Tuton.
“Everything is the same as it was before,” he said.
It’s the Yukon government’s job to demand the money be reimbursed, he said.
“The government hasn’t asked us to,” he said.
And the government isn’t talking.
Since Wednesday morning, the News requested comment from Pat Living, spokesperson for the Health and Social Services Department, and Glenn Hart, the department’s minister. “We’re still looking for someone from Hart’s department to respond,” said Emily Younker, head of cabinet communications.
Hospital board members are keeping their money because it’s easier this way, said Tuton.
“It’s practicality,” he said. “It’s the way it is.”
Along with Tuton, there are 10 people who sit on the hospital corporation’s board.
The breach of government rules was revealed six weeks ago in interviews with Tuton and corporation president Joe MacGillivray. Multiple follow-up calls to both men were not returned following revelation of the overpayment. Tuton only picked up his phone this week.
On Wednesday, Tuton confirmed members received fatter cheques contrary to rules established by cabinet. This is a contravention of the Yukon Hospital Act, which allows the board to set wages only in the absence of an order in council.
And, for years, that was the case.
From 1993 until December 2009, there were no orders-in-council and the board set its own wages. And, in late 2009, the board gave itself a huge raise.
Tuton’s honoraria for each board meeting went from $300 to $600, while board members wages went from $200 to $400. The chair was also granted $300 for meeting preparation and a $2,000 monthly stipend.
Because the board meets 12 times a year, Tuton’s wage rose to $34,800 a year from $3,600 a year.
However, about the same time government waded into the board wage issue.
In December, cabinet issued its first order-in-council on hospital board wages in years, pegging it at the old rate.
For six months, against cabinet’s order, the board continued to receive its pumped up wages.
In June 2010, the government released a second order, allowing the board-approved raises.
During the six-month breakdown in communication, the board wasn’t avoiding the government orders, said Tuton.
“We didn’t neglect to enforce anything,” he said. “We indicated there was a huge discrepancy between what that OIC said and what the board was paying. And obviously the government relooked at it.”
Asked if the board lobbied the government to change its order, Tuton wasn’t sure.
“I think we asked them to review (the wages),” he said.
Tuton, who returned from vacation Tuesday, wouldn’t elaborate on why there was so much confusion between the corporation and the government. Tuton has worked on campaigns for the Yukon Party, currently in power, for decades.
“I’m right up in my ears in alligators and I’m going to have to get you to take that as an answer.”
Adeline Webber, Millie Johnson, Clark LaPrairie, Richard Durocher, Dr. Sherillynne Himmelsbach, David Borud, Tanya Solberg, Donna Hogan, Wes Wirth and Frances Woolsey also sit on the corporation’s board.
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