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WHITEHORSE – The Yukon Party Official Opposition is requesting that the Minister of Education outline a plan to address the findings of a Yukon Workers’ Safety and Compensation Board (WSCB) inspection report. The Yukon News reported on Monday that the report “shows the Education department is failing to meet legislation that requires health and safety committee programs in schools. Those programs are legislatively mandated in 18 of the territory’s 36 schools.”
“The findings of the WSCB report issued on August 26 are concerning," said Lake Laberge MLA Brad Cathers. “Of particular concern is that no safety meetings have been held for three years in two schools where the school communities have recently criticized the Minister for the lack of support from the Department of Education; Hidden Valley Elementary School in Whitehorse and Tantalus Elementary School in Carmacks.”
In a letter issued in May, the Chief of the Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation indicated that the First Nation first raised complaints regarding school safety in two meetings with the Minister and her staff in February and again in April. The resources of Hidden Valley Elementary School staff have already been stretched thin responding to the ongoing investigations around a case of sexual interference involving a former Educational Assistant. School council has requested additional staff resources for over a year to manage the increased administrative burden to tackle the demands of assisting investigations without support from the Department.
“The Minister of Education is again ducking responsibility for the department,” Cathers said. “It is unacceptable to see the Minister responsible for the WSCB publicly commenting on the results of an inspection and his expectations for a response. He should know better than to blur the impartiality of such independent matters with political comments from the Minister.”
The WSCB operates under a principle of “independence from political interference”. In 2014, the current Minister was the WSCB communications manager and published a Yukon-wide advertising campaign educating Yukoners about that guiding principle, so he has no excuse for choosing to ignore it in an attempt at political grandstanding."