The Yukon government is “putting Yukoners at risk to save a few bucks” by scrapping an elevator maintenance contract, says Liberal Leader Arthur Mitchell.
Not so, say Public Works officials, who confirm the contract was cancelled as a cost-saving exercise, but deny the public is at risk.
Mitchell raised the matter in the legislature on March 31, contrasting the cut contract to what he sees as an excessive splurge: the recent installation of a new sink in a cabinet minister’s office.
“Why is it more important for a cabinet minister to be able to wash his hands in private than it is for Yukoners to be kept safe?” Mitchell asked.
Public Works Minister Archie Lang said he was unaware of the cancelled contract, but promised to “get to the bottom of it.”
Last June, the territory hired Thyssenkrupp to conduct monthly maintenance on the territorial government’s three-dozen elevators and lifts for $94,240. The contract was to expire June 1, but was cancelled in mid-February, said Doris Wurfbaum, a spokesperson with Public Works.
Territorial regulations don’t specify how frequently elevators must be maintained, said Wurfbaum. But elevator maintenance had followed a monthly schedule for “years and years and years,” she said.
This was recently deemed to be “excessive,” said Wurfbaum.
Officials with the territory’s property management branch and Thyssenkrupp are currently hashing out a new agreement that would see maintenance work conducted less frequently.
“We’re discussing what needs to be done now in the regulatory environment and in the name of public safety,” said Wurfbaum. “In suspending this contract, public safety was never jeopardized and all of the government of Yukon’s elevators and lifts are in good working order.”
Elevators continue to be inspected annually by territorial staff, she said.
And what of the sink, which a Liberal researcher said was installed in the office of John Edzerza, the territory’s newest cabinet minister?
“The property management division is unaware of any cabinet members having a sink installed,” said Wurfbaum. As far as she can tell, the only recent work order involving a sink saw one installed in the Finance department’s coffee area three or four weeks ago.
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