Unions deserve credit for employer award: hospital

The head of the Yukon Hospital Corporation is taking the high road after one of the hospital's unions denounced a top employer award the corporation won last week.

The head of the Yukon Hospital Corporation is taking the high road after one of the hospital’s unions denounced a top employer award the corporation won last week.

The hospital earned a spot on Canada’s top 100 employers list because of the working conditions the union fought for over the years, said Joe MacGillivray, the hospital’s CEO.

“That’s why we gave credit to our unions for helping us get there, because we absolutely do have good compensation and benefit packages,” he said.

The corporation thanked the Yukon Employees’ Union, which represents nonmedical staff, and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, which represents nurses, at a news conference last Friday, he said.

There was no attempt by management to take credit for the working standards demanded by the union, he said.

The company compiling the top employer list – Mediacorp – took a long, hard look at workers’ benefits.

“It’s not a matter of taking credit,” said MacGillivray.

“It’s just a fact – this is what our pay and benefits are.”

Laurie Butterworth, the head of the employees’ union, interpreted the award as a sign the hospital was patting itself on the back.

“If that’s what it takes to be in top 100, we question what these others places are like,” said Butterworth in an interview Monday.

He disparaged the award for congratulating the hospital for having a gym, a religious observance room and a cafeteria.

“Lots of that stuff is already there because it’s a hospital,” he said.

MacGillivray says the gym is staff-only.

According to Mediacorp’s website, the hospital won the award because of its physical amenities, its location and worker benefits.

“This is going to go on all our recruiting material,” said MacGillivray.

The hospital began looking for ways to accredit its high standards two years ago in a strategic plan put forward by the board, he said.

But evidence suggests the hospital doesn’t have a hard time recruiting or retaining workers.

The rate of people leaving employment there voluntarily is just under five per cent.

“It’s actually quite good for a heath-care organization,” said MacGillivray.

And there’s a long lineup of people looking to work there. There were over 900 applying for jobs last year.

But there are still staff shortages, said MacGillivray.

“The reality is that we have positions we have a hard time filling up,” he said.

The hospital had to postpone the opening of its secure hospital unit, built to house mentally ill patients, because it couldn’t find mental-health nurses, he said.

There is still a shortage for other therapy nurses, he said.

There are 97 nurses at the hospital on a full-time basis, almost half of the hospital’s 170 full-time staff.

There are also 107 part-time workers.

The hospital will be able to advertise its top employer award, which is for next year.

The employees’ union wasn’t involved in the corporation’s submission for the award.

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada did not return a request for comment.

Contact James Munson at

jamesm@yukon-news.com