Legislative Briefs
MLA looks for surplus money

Jeff Colbourne
Northern News Services

NNSL (Sep 18/98) - Discussions are under way between the GNWT and the Interim Commissioner's office to come up with a memorandum of understanding determining how the Workers Compensation Board will be handled after division.

Kivallivik MLA Kevin O'Brien asked Finance Minister John Todd if he thought Nunavut could support its own WCB.

The affordability of a eastern WCB will have to be part of the discussions, said Todd.

"To date to say if there is (fiscal capabilities for two WCBs) I couldn't answer you. I believe it is but these discussions are currently under way. Negotiations are sensitive and it would be critical that when it comes across my desk that there be an affordability component to it," said Todd.

MLA looks for surplus money

Iqaluit MLA Ed Picco wants cabinet to consider throwing a chuck of any budget surplus into education. The request was in keeping with a motion passed in the last sitting asking the government to allocate more money for education.

Finance Minister John Todd, said he is not prepared to spend money right now that he does not have or see but if a surplus is found priorities will be weighted and money may be allocated.

"While we bagged $25 million on the pay equity retroactive side, that issue still has not been concluded. What we still have is somewhere around, I think, we spent $11 or $12 million dollars in fire suppression this year that wasn't budgeted for which is no fault of anybody," he said.

"There's massive problems in housing, health care problems and education. If there is a surplus we will use due process to determine where that money, should there be any, go."

Time to bridge the pay equity gap

Finance Minister John Todd wants an end to the pay equity and collective bargaining dispute by Christmas.

"The stalling of serious negotiations has gone on for too long. It is time to bring the parties to the table to resolve outstanding matters," said Todd in his Minister's statement Wednesday.

"With the assistance of a mediator, we wish to table a revised offer for consideration by the UNW. We will approach these negotiations with an open mind and a willingness to consider all options."

Todd assures that his $40 million offer has no down-side risk for any UNW employee.

Wages would increase 2-31 per cent in the first year and by another two per cent in the second year. Affected employees would have received equal payments ranging from $790 to $33,199.

Northern allowances would also increase ranging from $421 to $4,096 with an annual lump sum amount of $500 for everyone.