Dawson City: Sandy Silver, Klondike MLA and Liberal Critic for Community Services, is drawing attention to what he is calling “a major gap in employment standards in the Yukon”.
Silver says that subcontractors hired to build the Dawson City Hospital are writing their own rules and not following the terms and conditions dictated by Canadian laws and the Yukon Employment Standards Act. The subcontractors are hiring general labourers in Dawson and using loopholes in employment laws to dodge the issue of paying their employee’s Worker Compensation Benefits. The subcontractors are also forcing labourers to work overtime but not providing overtime wages.
Sadly, says Silver, this has become a common place practice in major Government capital projects; practices like this often cheat Yukon workers out of overtime wages, and leave them without WCB coverage.
“It is hard enough to train and retain Yukoners for the surge of opportunities in the labour market with the current gap in labour relations”, says Silver. “But this feeds into an even bigger issue: what happens if our labourers get seriously injured on the job and their employer hasn’t been paying their WCB insurance?”
Silver says that many Yukon labourers are being incorrectly hired as ‘subcontractors’, because according to law, an employer can stipulate that an individual is responsible for paying their own Worker’s Compensation insurance if that worker is a subcontractor. This practice also allows the employer to abstain from matching workers CPP, income tax and EI contributions. Legally, however, when an individual reports for work at the times dictated by the employer, works under the direct supervision of the employer, is directed on a daily basis by the employer, uses the employer's tools and equipment exclusively, has no other "customers" and is paid on an hourly basis, this constitutes an EMPLOYEE- EMPLOYER contract. This is the law, yet Yukon labourers are being victimized on projects sanctioned by the very Government whose responsibility it is to protect them.
Employment Services is supposed to enforce these regulations, and at times, the Worker’s Compensation Board responds to concerns. But these Government regulators often are powerless to act until a complaint is brought forward. The reality of the situation is that many workers choose not to lodge complaints because of the ramifications that it could have on their chances for future employment in their communities.
“This Yukon Party Government needs to take hard look at some of the hiring practices that are taking place here”, says Silver. “With more companies looking to do business in the Yukon, we need to ensure that Government officials are given the necessary tools to properly monitor worksites and enforce regulations. The Yukon needs to be presented as a great place to do business, but not at the expense of our local labour force.”
For additional information contact:
Blake Rogers 667-8942
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