Labor excluded in WCB division talks
"Anything this important should be discussed publicly"

by Nancy Gardiner
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 28/97) - Jim Evoy says he's upset that labor is being left out of talks on dividing the NWT Workers' Compensation Board and NWT Power Corporation when Nunavut comes on stream in 1999.

"One of the things that's really important to us is the WCB. It's singly the most important issue to us," the president of the Northwest Territories Federation of Labor said.

"It's not just trauma and emotions of being hurt. Anything this important has to be discussed publicly, not just briefed in a back room. Business and labor should be calling the shots in a public forum. This is democracy in reverse."

Evoy (left) said he is weary of waiting for a response to his complaints to the territorial government. A letter to Finance Minister John Todd written Feb. 21 has elicited no response.

So, he wrote to the federal minister responsible for overseeing division of the NWT, Ron Irwin, last week.

But John Todd's executive assistant Richard Bargery says Todd intends to answer Evoy's letter and will be doing so soon.

Evoy also wrote Yellowknife North MLA Roy Erasmus on April 2 and is still awaiting a reply.

Evoy said the GNWT is unilaterally pushing forward, and fast-tracking, a major change in governance of the Workers' Compensation Board.

There needs to be accountability, he said, referring to briefings held by members of the Western Coalition on division of the bodies. "We've been completely shut out of that (coalition talks)."

Coalition members met with Charles Dent, minister responsible for the Power Corporation, and Pierre Alvarez, chair of the company's board of directors, on the power company's plans.

They also met with WCB chair Fred Koe and board president Gerry Meier for a briefing on the WCB, according to a press release.

The coalition includes aboriginal, political and business leaders in the field. It was established in March to protect the interests of a western territory in preparing for division.

"Labor workers, as consumers, should be involved with discussions concerning the Power Corporation, too," Evoy said. "I think the Power Corporation is going to affect us long-range in our pockets."

Evoy said he wants to see a public forum of business and labor leaders on the WCB.

"This is the most anti-union government that the NWT government has ever seen," he added.