Yukon’s acting chief boiler inspector doesn’t have the first “essential” qualification on his job description: possession of a first-class steam-engineering certificate and several years of experience.
The chief’s subordinate, who does the actual inspections, doesn’t have a boiler certificate either, although that’s required for such jobs in British Columbia.
Both men are responsible for regulating the use of big boilers that help heat Yukon College, Whitehorse General Hospital, Yukon’s schools and the massive, room-size units found in mines.
Doug Badry is the chief. He’s an electrician by trade.
Robert McNeill is the boiler inspector. He’s a retired plumber.
The NDP’s Steve Cardiff, who is himself a veteran tradesman, compares their current roles to “asking a dentist to do open-heart surgery.”
He doesn’t mean to slight either man. “They’re good tradespeople,” said Cardiff. “I’ve worked side-by-side with them over the past 35 years. And it’s not their fault that they’re in this situation. It’s because of lack of leadership in upper management and politically.”
Both Badry and McNeill are temporarily filling vacancies. The chief inspector retired late last year. The inspector left his job in January.
Cardiff has two big fears about this arrangement. One is that public safety is being compromised.
The other is that the credentials of the Yukon’s power engineers, who operate big, pressurized heaters, will be thrown into question in other Canadian jurisdictions.
Power engineers need to have their operating certificates regularly renewed. That’s done by the chief – who himself is not certified.
Cardiff found little comfort in the assurance offered to him by Community Services Minister Archie Lang in the legislature on March 22.
Cardiff asked for “absolute assurance that the government can provide the required services.” Lang responded that “Yes, we can supply that service.”
Badry offered similar assurances to the News in an interview. “We employ qualified staff, or a private contractor when we need them.”
He conceded that neither he nor McNeill were certified. But he vouched for McNeill’s work experience. “He’s a retired plumber, gas-fitter, boiler installer. He’s worked in the mechanical field for 40 years. He’s very well respected in the community.”
McNeill’s installed plenty of consumer-size boilers during his career, said Badry.
There’s nothing wrong with the current staffing arrangements, according to the Yukon’s Boiler and Pressure Vessels Act, said Badry. And they continue to uphold the national building code.
“We’re committed to the safety of all Yukoners. And we’re providing the highest standard of inspection possible.”
If that’s so, Cardiff wonders why the job posting for the chief position requires applicants to possess a first-class steam-engineering certificate.
“There’s a reason trucks have to meet a certain standard to drive on highways. And why highways are built to a certain standard,” he said. “It’s about public safety.”
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