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This week’s mailbox: Lights of Life on Dec. 15 and bonuses for nurses

Open Letter to Mr. Michael Hale and Mr. Van Randen:

Open Letter to Mr. Michael Hale and Mr. Van Randen:

Editor’s Note: This letter was issued on Dec. 6.

My name is Darcy Kasper, and I am Yukon Employee’s Union, Local Y017 President. I am writing to both of you regarding the recent bonuses given to nurses and concerns with the lack of insight to including other professional areas within Health and Social Services.

Members from all sectors of Health and Social Services have been in contact with me since the announcement of the bonuses. Members have expressed feeling under valued and that the recent email sent out to staff from your office was a slap in the face.

I would hope you are both aware of the staffing shortages in almost all areas of Yukon Government. With these shortages, staff have been expected to take on extra workloads to ensure mandates are being met. Seldom are the staff recognized for their efforts by management which has shown a growth in positions during this time.

In looking at specifics, Nursing Home Attendants, therapists, dietary, domestic aides have been front line of services in long-term care. Without these vital roles, long-term care would not be able to operate. These positions have more regular contact with residents. All these positions have worked understaffed for an extended period. While these healthcare workers realize the important role of nurses, the feelings shared with me have been that they are not valued and taken for granted. There are fears by some members that they will face retribution from management if they speak out on how they feel, a tactic used in several areas within Health and Social Services if staff speak up. I’ve received emails and calls from Social Workers wondering why they are not seen as important as nurses. Family and Children’s Services has been operating well below staffing levels for several years in Whitehorse. With only three communities having Social Workers and the rest receiving drop-in services, I would think recruiting and retaining workers would be an important priority just as nursing appears to be. Social Workers reaching out to me have expressed a feeling of not being valued or appreciated for their services.

I wanted to reach out to support our Local Members and let you know that the bonuses only offered to nurses was taken personally by other professionals working beside the nurses or in other areas of Health and Social Service. Working through the pandemic, shortage of staff and the increased demands on individuals due to inflation continues to take it toll on members. Members are feeling under valued and taken for granted by Yukon Government as an employer. When they see the increase in management positions within workplaces and they are told do more with less, the feeling of being under valued is further embedded.

I would strongly encourage that bonuses or a show of appreciation for all workers needs to be initiated by The Department of Health and Social Services. The feeling of being more valued or less valued within a workplace can lead to resentment among a team. If this occurs, I hope that Health and Social Services will take ownership for what they have created by giving bonuses to one group while ignoring everyone else. Shortage of staff is not good enough reasoning; we all know that all areas within Health and Social Services are understaffed.

Thank you for your attention to concerns from employees within Health and Social Services. This could have all been avoided if dealt at Bargaining, where it belongs and we have been in for the past year.

Darcy Kasper

Local Y017 President

A time to remember loved ones

The holiday season is here. At Hospice Yukon this means a season for Lights of Life, giving Yukoners a meaningful way to honour the lives of loved ones they are missing at this time of year.

The opening ceremony of the 32nd annual Lights of Life event takes place on Dec. 15 at 12:15pm in the foyer of the Elijah Smith Building. Everyone is invited to attend this gentle ritual, a beloved Yukon tradition that includes thoughtful reflections and the beautiful voices of the Persephone Singers and Whitehorse Chamber Choir.

Christmas can be a difficult time when you are grieving the loss of a loved one. Taking a few moments in the busy holiday season to hang a Lights of Life tag in memory of a loved one who has died can offer some comfort. You may choose to come on your own, with a friend or co-worker, or as a family. Many Yukoners include Lights of Life as part of their holiday tradition.

At the Elijah Smith Building there are several Lights of Life trees, including a Child Tree to remember children who have died, or for children to hang a tag for their loved ones who have died. There is also a Pet Tree to honour our beloved pet companions.

The Lights of Life trees at the Elijah Smith Building will be available for hanging tags from the afternoon of Dec. 15 until 5 p.m., and weekdays until the morning of Dec. 22. Hospice volunteers will sit near the trees to offer compassionate support and to provide information about Hospice Yukon services.

Lights of Life trees are also up at many other locations in Whitehorse and the communities. Please check our website for a full list of Lights of Life tree locations ( or or phone us for more information at (867) 667-7429.

Lights of Life is made possible by the generosity of volunteers and local business people who contribute in different ways to this meaningful program each year. Thank you all for your support.

Heather Finton

Communications Coordinator

Hospice Yukon Society