There are public servants in Whitehorse too scared to hammer Liberal signs into their yard, says Arthur Mitchell.
“At the door, they say they’re going to vote for me,” said the party leader. “But they won’t put my sign up because they say people are watching and they don’t want trouble.”
Over the last nine years, a climate of fear has been built up in the territory, said Mitchell.
The Liberals want to change this.
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“I pledge to you right now that as premier, I will never interfere in the work of public servants,” Mitchell said at a news conference on Tuesday morning.
The Liberals would introduce whistleblower legislation, if elected, he said.
Whistleblower legislation would protect government employees who challenge the government on dishonest dealings.
Former premier Dennis Fentie’s meddling in the Peel Watershed plan is a prime example of where such legislation would have come in handy, said Mitchell.
Environment officials delivered a pro-conservation submission for the Peel plan, and a furious Fentie phoned the deputy minister, berated him and told him to water it down, said Mitchell.
“Public servants have grown used to the heavy hand of the Fentie/Pasloski government and they neither like it nor deserve it,” he said.
The Liberals promise public servants will be able to work free of political interference.
They also plan to revise government hiring practices to ensure the most qualified candidate gets the job, with preference given to Yukoners.
“We hear case after case of locals being passed over in job applications,” said Mitchell. “And in most cases there are highly qualified people in the Yukon.”
The Yukon Teacher’s Association has been focusing on building capacity to fill administrative roles, added Porter Creek Centre Liberal candidate Kerry Huff.
“But little has been done to hire these folks, even after this training has brought them up to speed.
“And the teacher’s association is very concerned by this,” he said.
Huff has also heard a great deal of concern from temporary workers, who can’t find full-time employment.
To help more Yukoners get the full-time government jobs they deserve, the Liberals plan to work with the Public Service Commission to attract and retain professionals to replace the aging workforce as workers retire.
They also want to develop a support program using retired public servants and private sector retirees to train new recruits.
“This will help Yukoners get the skills they need, rather than recruiting from Outside,” said Mitchell.
The Liberals will conduct a comprehensive review of the Public Service Act to modernize Yukon’s public service to meet the demands of Yukon society through 2020 and plan to empower the public service by establishing a mutual trust in government, between governments and with the Yukon public, he said.
The party also plans to urge the federal government to ensure that the centralization of Public Service Superannuation Act services will not result in service cuts or delays to Yukon workers.
Contact Genesee Keevil at