The Yukon Workers’ Compensation Board
will stay in Whitehorse.
A recommendation to explore the idea of cutting costs by disbanding the territory’s office and outsourcing its contracts to BC won’t fly, said Brad Cathers, minister responsible for the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board on Tuesday.
The Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce submitted the recommendation, along with a handful of others, to the Workers’ Compensation Act review panel in June.
It investigated the pros and cons of “harmonizing” the Yukon’s Workers’ Compensation Board with another jurisdiction like BC.
“I would say that they’re entitled to their opinion, but I don’t see a lot of merit to it,” said Cathers.
“The very quick analysis that they did of that showed it would actually cost us more money and come nowhere near to serving our needs as well.”
The Whitehorse chamber hired Morley Gunderson, a University of Toronto professor, to research its recommendations on behalf of a large employers’ group, which includes the city, the Hougen Group, Yukon Electrical, Yukon Energy, Northwestel and the Whitehorse chamber representing more than 400 businesses.
“The potential benefits from harmonization and contracting with another jurisdiction appear sufficient to merit further investigation in the area,” Gunderson concluded.
The Yukon rate structure will be the highest in Canada within three years, and it’s imperative to lower costs, said Gunderson.
“Without such cost-containment measures, Yukon employers risk jeopardizing their competitive position, and communities risk losing business investment and the jobs associated with that investment.”
But outsourcing the Workers’ Compensation Board to another jurisdiction is not an option, said Cathers.
“No, that’s the first time I’ve heard that suggestion and it’s the first time the WCB administration has heard that from the Whitehorse chamber.
“It is not, to my knowledge, something that the panel is pursuing further,” said Cathers.
“Their mandate is to deal with legislative changes and this was a little bit of a 90-degree turn from the discussion topic.”
The panel received a total of six written submissions before the June 15 cut-off date.
They can be read online at www.wcbactreview.gov.yk.ca.
The review panel will consider all submissions equally before drafting its proposed changes to the act, which will be passed on to Cathers by September 30.