TRC will get more information: Pasloski

The issue of helping the Truth and Reconciliation Commission identify children who died while attending the Yukon’s residential schools has been a hot topic in the legislature this sitting.

All that arguing wasn’t necessary after all. But no one in the Yukon’s legislative assembly got the memo.

The issue of helping the Truth and Reconciliation Commission identify children who died while attending the Yukon’s residential schools has been a hot topic in the legislature this sitting.

But according to the Yukon government’s own lawyers, it didn’t need to be. The lawyers, at least, knew that more than a month ago.

Premier Darrell Pasloski said as much during the final day of the sitting yesterday, when he announced that the Vital Statistics Act does not need to be changed to allow the commission access to individual death records.

At the same time, the premier criticized the Opposition for proposing legal changes at the last minute.

Until now, the government maintained repeatedly it would do whatever it could to help the commission, but it insisted that updating a rule which keeps a person’s cause of death private for 100 years was too complicated.

As a result, health officials publicly stated that the commission would be given only some Yukon data. What killed the students would only come as a statistical summary.

Now, the government has a legal opinion that says it can give the commission individual causes of death without changing the law at all.

The document is dated April 5 – about five weeks ago, confirmed cabinet spokesperson Elaine Schiman. “But it took some time for it to work its way through the bureaucracy,” she said.

Schiman couldn’t say for sure when the legal opinion made its way to cabinet, but she did say it was before the NDP’s bill was announced on Monday.

NDP justice critic Lois Moorcroft said the NDP found out about it on Tuesday.

News of the lawyers’ opinion only came to light after the NDP tabled a bill that would have exempted the Truth and Reconciliation Commission from the 100-year rule.

In April, the legislature unanimously passed a motion urging the Yukon government “to take all necessary measures to expedite the release of data requested by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”

Moorcroft said she felt the need to table her bill this week because the Yukon government hadn’t followed through with its promise.

“We trusted them to do their job, and they didn’t do their job, so we would do it for them,” she said.

The premier disputes that claim. He insists the commission was pleased with the data it was given. “What you are hearing now is that there certainly is the ability to provide more than what they were satisfied with earlier,” he said.

The actual legal opinion itself was not made public, but Pasloski said it relates to a section of the Vital Statistics Act that allows death records to be given out for a “reason that in the opinion of the registrar justifies the issuance of it.”

Pasloski criticized the Opposition for putting forward a bill like this during the last week of the session.

“They tabled the bill on the Monday afternoon of the last week, knowing full well that would not be enough time to allow this to go through. That is my disappointment,” he said.

“When the (Health and Social Services) minister stated in early April that we were not going to table an amendment to the Vital Statistics Act for the TRC, they had many weeks where they could have tabled that bill to allow the government to do the due diligence it needs to do.”

He insists the government likely would have supported the bill amending the act for the TRC even if it was unnecessary and only as a “symbolic gesture.”

Officials would have needed the appropriate amount of time to do the necessary consultations, he said.

Had the Vital Statistics Act been changed, it would have been the second time this sitting.

The same piece of law was quickly amended to reflect the needs of same sex parents after a Whitehorse couple filed a human rights complaint.

It’s not clear what type of consultation took place prior to those changes.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Team Yukon skip Laura Eby, left, directs her team as Team Northern Ontario skip Krysta Burns looks on at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary on Feb. 22. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Team Yukon reports positive experience at Scotties

Team Yukon played their final game at the national championship in Calgary on Thursday afternoon

A sign indicating a drop-off area behind Selkirk Elementary school in Whitehorse on Feb. 25. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Parking lot proposal for Selkirk Elementary criticized

Parents and school council are raising concerns about green space and traffic woes


Wyatt’s World for Feb. 26, 2021

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read