Job exodus may begin this fall
Todd says sooner jobs shifted to Nunavut the better

by Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 18/97) - Territorial Finance Minister John Todd wants the transfer of government jobs from Yellowknife to Nunavut to begin in the fall.

But just what will become of the people currently filling those jobs remains a mystery.

Todd made the announcement earlier this month at a Keewatin Chamber of Commerce meeting in Baker Lake.

The move is part of a pre-implementation strategy Todd is overseeing. He will be seeking the approval of cabinet, regional governments and Nunavut agencies to proceed.

Yellowknife Mayor Dave Lovell said the strategy makes sense.

"It's been stated by the territorial government that 300 jobs will be moved from Yellowknife to Nunavut," noted Lovell. "I wouldn't expect them all to be moved on April 1, 1999. It makes far more sense to have a gradual transition."

Yellowknife Frame Lake MLA Charles Dent agreed. "You can't expect people will pack up their offices March 31 and be ready to work April 1.... I think it's necessary, and I think a plan needs to be in place by fall at the latest."

But during the recent Cambridge Bay leaders' summit, the three parties to the Nunavut Final Agreement could not reach a consensus on the fate of GNWT employees whose positions are transferred.

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. agreed with the Nunavut Implementation Commission's recommendation that GNWT employees be hired only if they have satisfactory evaluations to be carried out by the new government.

The GNWT has maintained employees should automatically be transferred to the new bureaucracy.

Union of Northern Workers researcher and spokesman Ben Macdonald said government workers have traditionally been given the option of following their jobs to new locations.

"What has happened in the past (in the case of positions being moved) is people have been offered either the position in the new location or the layoff," said Macdonald. "That has been the case for all the devolution that has occurred, and the movement of jobs from Yellowknife to Nunavut can be seen as decentralization," he said.

"Up until Nunavut is created, they are decentralizing so the decision-making and administration is closer to the people that are being served."

He added the government has no legal obligation to give employees the option of moving with their jobs.

The territorial government is the largest employer in the city, with 1,455 employees.