Jarrett Parker, a former regional services manager with the Department of Health and Social Services (HSS), filed a wrongful termination lawsuit to the Yukon Supreme Court April 18. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)

Whistleblower’s lawyer accuses Yukon government of stalling

The Yukon government says portions of Jarrett Parker’s lawsuit are unclear or should be withdrawn

A lawyer representing the former Yukon government employee who alleges he was fired for whistleblowing on conditions at group homes is accusing the government of using delay tactics to stall legal proceedings.

Yukon government lawyers, meanwhile, are calling the lawsuit an “abuse of process.”

Jarrett Parker, a former regional services manager with the Department of Health and Social Services (HSS), filed a wrongful termination lawsuit to the Yukon Supreme Court April 18. In his statement of claim, Parker alleges he was fired with one day left on his probation because, in part, of his efforts to notify his superiors “that children at risk or in the care and custody of HSS were not in fact receiving the appropriate level of care and services.”

The allegations have not been proven in court.

Documents filed to court since then show tensions rising between Parker’s lawyer, Dan Shier, and the Yukon government’s legal team, with several email back-and-forths centring around the government’s yet-to-be-filed statement of defence.

Responding to an April 20 email from the Yukon government acknowledging receipt of Parker’s statement of claim, Shier asked Yukon government lawyer Karen Wenckebach to let him know when the government plans on filing an appearance and statement of defence.

“We would like to move forward with this matter as quickly as possible,” Shier wrote.

Wenckebach responds with an email dated April 23 that she will “be in a position” to file the statement of defence after she has an opportunity to review Parker’s statement of claim and receive “instructions from my client.”

Another Yukon government lawyer, I.H. Fraser, wrote to Shier on May 9, stating that he doesn’t “think it will be possible to provide an appropriately responsive statement of defence without some amendments” to certain allegations in Parker’s statement of claim.

Fraser specifically pointed to a paragraph that alleges Parker’s termination was a “result of the matters referred to” in earlier paragraphs.

“It is unclear what is meant by this,” Fraser wrote. “For example, (paragraph) 18 alleges that Mr. Parker attended a meeting on March 8, 2018 and discussed certain matters. Is it intended to allege that Mr. Parker was terminated: (i) because he attended the meeting; (ii) because certain matters were discussed at the meeting; or (iii) because of what Mr. Parker said (or did not say) at the meeting?”

Fraser also described other portions of Parker’s statement of claim “ambiguous,” as having “no basis in law,” and calls for several allegations of claims to be withdrawn or deleted.

Shier responds with an email dated May 16, stating that while he’s received Fraser’s email, he has not received a statement of defence, which should have been due May 10.

“Please provide your Statement of Defence without delay,” Shier wrote, adding that, if he doesn’t receive one by May 22, he will be filing for default judgement.

“As you are no doubt aware, Mr. Parker has been deprived of his employment and his income,” he added. “As previously noted to you, we intended to proceed without delay.”

Fraser responds with a letter dated May 18 stating the Yukon Public Interest Commissioner has notified HSS that Parker had filed a “written complaint of reprisal.”

“The Government of Yukon takes the position that it is an abuse of process for Mr. Parker to proceed with both a reprisal complaint to the Commissioner and a civil action for wrongful dismissal,” Fraser wrote, adding that the Yukon government thinks “it would not be appropriate” to proceed on the lawsuit until the complaint to the Commissioner is resolved.

Shier responded with a three-page letter May 22, stating that there’s “nothing” in the Public Interest Disclosure of Wrongdoing Act preventing Parker from proceeding with his lawsuit.

“You have pointed out that the Government of Yukon intends to ‘make submissions to the Commissioner.’ We see this comment as yet another delay tactic,” Shier wrote.

“All we have been asking from you is the simple filing and delivery of a Statement of Defence so that we may proceed.… At bottom, this case is about the little person up against the immense resources of government. He was treated shabbily throughout his employment…. We would have expected a much more conciliatory approach,” he wrote.

Shier continued: “Obstruction causes delay, and delay both costs the plaintiff money and frustrates his ability to achieve a just, speedy and inexpensive determination of this case on its merits. We will be seeking significant costs sanctions should your client remain insistent on raising procedural hurdles to this meritorious claim.”

Both parties have since filed notices of application to the court.

Shier is requesting an order that would require the Yukon government to file a statement of defence within 24 hours or be found in default, with damages and costs payable to Parker.

At the same time, the Yukon government is seeking an order giving it seven days from the final disposition of its application to file its statement of defence, and to be awarded the cost of its application. It’s also requesting one of three alternatives: that Parker’s statement of claim “be struck in its entirety as an abuse of process,” that the lawsuit be stayed until Parker’s complaint to the Commissioner is resolved, or, should the lawsuit proceed, that several paragraphs and phrases from the statement of claim be struck out.

Both applications are scheduled to be heard June 7.

Yukon Department of Justice spokesperson Dan Cable declined to comment because the case is before the courts. Shier did not respond to a request for comment.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

group homeswhistleblowersYukon courtsYukon government

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

Just Posted

Benjamin Poudou, Mount MacIntyre’s ski club manager, poses for a photo in the club’s ski rental area on Nov. 16. The club has sold around 1,850 passes already this year, compared to 1067 passes on Oct. 31 last year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Early season ski pass sales up as Yukoners prepare for pandemic winter

Season passe sales at Mount McIntyre for cross-country skiing are up by around 60 per cent this year

The City of Whitehorse will be spending $655,000 to upgrade the waste heat recovery system at the Canada Games Centre. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New waste heat recovery system coming to the CGC

Council approves $655,000 project

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate education advocates and volunteers help to sort and distribute Christmas hamper grocery boxes outside Elijah Smith Elementary School on Feb. 23. (Rebecca Bradford Andrew/Submitted)
First Nation Education Directorate begins Christmas hamper program

Pick-ups for hampers are scheduled at local schools

Cyrine Candido, cashier, right, wipes down the new plexi-glass dividers at Superstore on March 28, before it was commonplace for them to wear masks. The Yukon government is relaunching the Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program as the second wave of COVID-19 begins to take place in the territory. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program extended to 32 weeks

More than 100 businesses in the territory applied for the first phase of the program

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Keith Lay speaks at a city council meeting on Dec. 4, 2017. Lay provided the lone submission to council on the city’s proposed $33 million capital spending plan for 2021 on Nov. 23, taking issue with a number of projects outlined. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Resident raises issues with city’s capital budget

Council to vote on budget in December

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read