Meet Yukon’s best paid temp

Scott Widmeyer will earn a cool $16,000 in one month as a temp. He's Dawson City's interim chief administrative officer. It's a lot of money, admits Councillor Wayne Potoroka.

Scott Widmeyer will earn a cool $16,000 in one month as a temp.

He’s Dawson City’s interim chief administrative officer.

It’s a lot of money, admits Councillor Wayne Potoroka. But that’s the going rate for a seasoned administrator on a temporary basis, he said.

And Dawson is caught in a lurch, after Jackie Olson, its senior financial officer who had also been serving as acting CAO, was wooed away from the city by the Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nation last month.

Dawson approached Yukon’s Department of Community Services for advice. Officials recommended Widmeyer, a Lake Laberge resident who has worked for municipal governments in Haines Junction, Watson Lake, Carmacks and Teslin.

Widmeyer is also a former Dawsonite who lived in the town from the late 1970s until the mid-‘80s.

Besides the day-to-day work of overseeing municipal services, Widmeyer has been asked to help train Dawson’s recently elected council and help the politicians search for a permanent CAO.

Dawson has already once tried to recruit a full-time city boss, without luck.

Widmeyer will take home $800 a day, plus expenses, from now until mid-February.

Dawson’s last permanent CAO was Eldo Enns. He abruptly left his job shortly after the municipal elections in October.

Mediation fails

between teachers’ union and territory

Yukon teachers must choose between binding arbitration and non-binding conciliation after mediation failed to advance their contract negotiations this week.

The territorial government “was not pleased” with the teachers’ proposed wage increase when the two parties met with a mediator on Monday and Tuesday, said Katherine Mackwood, president of the Yukon Teachers Association, which represents about 750 educators across the territory.

Some progress was made on non-monetary matters such as new provisions to ensure safety in schools and adequate help for struggling students, said Mackwood.

But the two parties remain far apart on wages increases. Teachers want annual wage increases of 4.5 per cent over two years. The last collective agreement, which expired in June, gave teachers annual wage increases greater than three per cent over three years.

It’s unclear how much the territory is offering.

The territory resisted plans to enter mediation in September, saying it would be a waste of time given the big gap in wages proposed by both parties. It appears they were right.

Yukon’s teachers are the third-highest paid in Canada, following teachers in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.

A newly qualified teacher in the Yukon starts with an annual salary of $57,398. Wages top out at $91,751 for teachers with a masters degree and a decade of experience.

Mackwood expressed optimism a deal would be reached and “a strike hasn’t even been discussed.”

Negotiations with teachers is just a warm-up exercise for the territory compared with what’s soon to come.

Next week, the Yukon Employees Union, which represents about 4,000 government workers, will begin pre-bargaining talks with the territorial government. Main negotiations are expected to start in late February.

Cause of internet

blackout remains fuzzy

Northwestel’s internet service failed for nearly two hours Wednesday afternoon.

The service disruption began around noon and continued until around 2 p.m. It affected computers with cable internet, including the service offered to larger businesses.

As a result, debit and credit card readers around the territory went on the fritz during this time.

The outage was traced back to a distribution router in the guts of Northwestel’s network infrastructure in Whitehorse, but it remains unclear why the device failed.

“They don’t know what caused the problem,” said Anne Kennedy, Northwestel’s spokesperson.

The service outage was unrelated to a planned outage scheduled this weekend, which will affect Northwestel e-mail accounts as the company migrates data to a new server.

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.