Yukon NDP wins assurances for health-care unions affected by health authority

WHITEHORSE, YT – The Yukon Government (YG) and labour unions representing health-care workers have resolved a major impasse over the territory’s health authority thanks to negotiations spurred by Yukon NDP Leader Kate White.

The terms of the resolution are summarized in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed Wednesday, April 24.  

The MOU sets clear expectations for YG and the Yukon Hospital Corporation (YHC) around collective bargaining, the transfer of health-care workers to the new health authority, as well as workers’ pay, benefits, and pensions.

The MOU caps weeks of close consultation between the Yukon NDP and union leadership.

“This is a win for health-care workers in the Yukon,” White said Wednesday.

“We told the Liberals they needed to work with affected unions to sign an MOU because the Health Authority Act didn’t clearly spell out how workers’ pensions and benefits would be protected, or how to deal with other labour relations issues,” she added.

“I’m extremely grateful and impressed with the determination and strength shown by Kate White and the Yukon NDP Caucus,” Yukon Federation of Labour President Teresa Acheson said Wednesday.

“They stand with workers,” Acheson continued, adding, “They worked hard with union staff and representatives dedicated to protecting health-care workers as we transition to a Health Authority.”

Stéphanie Montreuil, Head of Public Affairs at the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC), which represents registered nurses employed by the Yukon Hospital Corporation, also thanked White for her advocacy.

“PIPSC is proud of what we’ve been able to achieve in working with government and other unions to provide much needed assurance and stability to Yukon healthcare workers. We want to thank Kate White and the Yukon NDP for their tenacity in advocating on behalf of these essential workers. This demonstrates what can be accomplished through meaningful collaboration, and we are hopeful for what this means for workers as we move towards a health authority in the territory,” Montreuil said.

Yukon Employees Union (YEU) President Justin Lemphers and the health-care support staff represented quickly followed suit.

“We are grateful for the dedication of the team at the Yukon NDP and Leader Kate White, who advocated for workers and workers’ rights and helped to facilitate getting us to this MOU,” Lemphers said.

“There is still a lot of work to be done,” he added. “But this MOU leaves us hopeful that we can meet future challenges. And, we are confident that it will position us well to protect and advance the interests of union members who will be affected by the transition to the new Health Authority.”