Teachers reach deal

The Yukon Teachers’ Association has negotiated a new contract with the Yukon government. The deal, which has not yet been ratified, was…

The Yukon Teachers’ Association has negotiated a new contract with the Yukon government.

The deal, which has not yet been ratified, was reached last week after a few days of collective bargaining.

No details are being released yet.

“There is a tentative agreement in place, but we won’t be reporting the contents of that agreement until the contract is ratified,” said association president Sandra Henderson.

“We did commit that we would keep it under wraps until that time.”

The association is holding information meetings and a vote in Whitehorse in late April.

Its current three-year contract expires at the end of June.

The association represents about 700 employees, including teachers, educational assistants and remedial tutors, said Henderson.

The Yukon Employees’ Union also has contract negotiations planned for this year.

Its contract with the government ends December 31, 2006.

“I’m unsure what the YTA’s deal and package was, and it’s way too early for us to even comment, because we haven’t even put our proposals together yet to say what we want,” said union president Laurie Butterworth.

“I’m curious to hear the dollar figures, because, from what I understood, it only took them two days.

“That surprised me a bit. Congratulations to them.”

With a territorial election likely next fall, the union can’t really start negotiations until the next government is in place, he said.

“Any pre-bargaining we do might get put off until December, depending on when the election is, because without a government there is no mandate, really, to even bargain with us.”

Contact Graeme McElheran at gmcelheran@yukon-news.com (GM)

FRENCH SERVICES

A rose by any other name

The evolution from bureau to directorate is more than just a name change for French language services in the territory.

Established Friday, the new title gives French language issues more prominence in the Yukon, according to newly appointed directorate of French language services director Carol Genest.

“The profile of the issues … is at a higher level,” said Genest.

Sitting on the deputy minister’s committee will give Genest a higher platform to promote bilingualism.

“I’m sitting at a table where I’m able to bring up issues to government officials at the highest level,” she said.

But the role of the directorate has not changed.

“There’s no change in the mandate, there’s no increase in resources,” she said in an interview today.

French language services used to fall under the Executive Council Office and was later moved to Highways and Public Works.

The new directorate will remain in that department.

For French-speaking Yukoners, creating a directorate means direct access to decision makers, said Association franco-yukonnaise president Jean-Marc Perreault.

“We’ve been lobbying for this for quite a while,” said Perreault.

“We’ve always tried to work closely with government and having a structure that’s conducive to that makes it so much easier.

“This is a move where the government is giving us the recognition that we asked for and, at the same time, is going to improve the relationship and the working structure.”

The association provides services for Yukon’s francophone community and ensures government is doing the same, said Perreault.

“We will be working very closely with the directorate.

“One doesn’t really go without the other.”

With the local community actively recruiting French tourists to the territory, bilingual services are especially important from an economic perspective, he added.

Minister of Highways and Public Works, Glenn Hart, also has a new name.

As of Friday, Hart gained another title as minister responsible for French Language Services.

“The main mandate is to ensure that we’re providing French services throughout the Yukon,” he said in an interview today.

“To give it an area where they’re segregated and they provide action on behalf of the French speaking Yukoners.”

The directorate will follow a similar structure to the Women’s directorate, he added.

Ottawa funds French language services in the Yukon.

In the coming months Genest will draft a three-year plan to present to federal funders.

“We’re very pleased with the way the government has been handling this file,” added Perreault.

“We see this as a new beginning in terms of our relationship with the government.” (CO)