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News archive for February 7, 2014

Changes would assist suddenly-bereaved families

The territorial government is moving to increase the amount of money Yukoners receive in the wake of a family member’s unintended death.

By Christopher Reynolds on February 7, 2014 at 4:50 pm

photo

Photo by Whitehorse Star

Justice Minister Mike Nixon

The territorial government is moving to increase the amount of money Yukoners receive in the wake of a family member’s unintended death.

Legislative amendments are being considered to give Yukoners the right to seek bereavement damages when a close family member is killed and where another person is at fault.

“This allows Yukoners the right to seek bereavement damages when a family member is killed as a result of the fault of another,” Justice Minister Mike Nixon said in an interview today from Las Vegas, where he is on other government business (see story below).

Nixon is inviting the public to comment on proposed amendments to the Fatal Accidents Act. The legislation currently only permits residents to reclaim out-of-pocket expenses, like funerals or celebrations of life, for the sudden losses of family members.

Amendments to the legislation would enable families to seek compensation for grief and loss.

“It’s important that they can take time so that they can deal with the loss and prepare themselves to go back to work to be a part of life again,” Nixon said.

“If I had a police officer come to my house and say that I lost my son in an accident, I don’t know that I could necessarily put myself in the shoes of that parent. I couldn’t imagine how terrible that is.

“Would I be able to go to work? Would I need to go to counselling?”

As it stands, bereaved individuals have the option to take people they believe to be at fault to court — but again, can only seek “incurred costs” like funerals or legal expenses, Nixon said.

“It could cost you $10,000 to get $10,000,” he added.

The legislation could bring the Yukon in line with other jurisdictions. The territories and British Columbia remain the only regions where residents cannot seek wider damages for bereavement.

Issues like whether common-law partners will be included as family members have yet to be settled, Nixon said.

As for why it’s taken so long to bring the territory up to the national standard, he said, “That’s a good question. I’ve been in office now for two years, and I have a true appreciation for how heavy the legislative calendar is.”

The public may submit comments by email or regular mail before March 1.

More information is available at the Justice department’s website.

CommentsAdd a comment

June Jackson

Feb 7, 2014 at 5:10 pm

I am not sure I understand.. is the government intending to widen the scope so damages can be claimed by suing the person who is at fault? Or will the government itself be putting out the money?

Groucho d'North

Feb 8, 2014 at 2:44 pm

That’s a step in the right direction! Good on government for dealing with this issue. Recent news has shown a few families who could use some help moving on with their lives.
I do hope the consultation has value in creating a program to help those most affected, and frivolous claims are discouraged.

Virgil

Feb 9, 2014 at 1:30 am

A question of note:
“Why are taxpayers paying for the death of a person. The money should be taken from the person that killed the other individual. “Lifetime garnishment of wages 10%”

This current system has huge problems. 
Take for example:
http://whitehorsestar.com/archive/print/20089/

The current system:
Judges make the decisions based on reports by the RCMP and their investigations. You can provide your own evidence in court but that may be tough for some individuals especially if it contradicts what the RCMP found.

This new system will be better.  Take the cost of a funeral… add in a flat amount for grief and be done with it. Like the Yukon Grant. . . you get x amount child/parent/spouse. Shouldn’t make a difference whether a breadwinner or not.

… however still don’t think the family deserves workers tax dollars. Take it from the perpetrator, not all of society. Garnish their wage… it was their screw up, their failure.. Don’t make tax dollars pay for another person’s fault.

Will be neat to see how this system deals with investigations that claim “no foul play suspected.”

Groucho d'North

Feb 10, 2014 at 6:20 pm

Virgil:
Here’s the way I see it. Take as an example the recent court imposed fines for WCB infractions (failures of training requirements) leading to a worker dying. Intergra Tire, the two mining fatalities for recent cases. Some serious money went into government coffers as a result of those fines.

I’m betting all the lawyers, consultants and the people who work in the court system got paid to arrive at these judicial outcomes. Yet those most directly impacted by the loss of a loved-one, provider, care-giver, mom, dad, or sibling, get nothing to deal with the immediate costs they may face, again the news has recent examples.

Money will never replace what was lost, but there could be some progress in applying some decency and humanity to our legal system.

Charles and Sandra Behan

Feb 13, 2014 at 8:15 am

This article has to deal with wrongful death. Unless you have experienced this then it may be difficult to make a decision. However this will allow the persons family to go after the person who caused this to happen. What happened to my daughter was unacceptable as far as we are concerned and the driver walked away with out so much as a slap on the wrist. That is not acceptable there should be consequences for your action especially if you’re behind the wheel. Its called taking responsibility for your actions. We support this action as it has been a long time coming. This does not make the government responsible but the person who caused this to happen should pay.

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