Whitehorse Daily Star

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PAY ATTENTION – NDP Leader Liz Hanson spoke of ‘serious concerns being raised by the Registrar of Societies.’

Study up on Many Rivers strike, Hanson urges cabinet ministers

NDP Leader Liz Hanson is calling on three cabinet ministers to “pay attention” to the five-week-old strike at Many Rivers Counselling and Support Services.

By Whitehorse Star on December 10, 2018

NDP Leader Liz Hanson is calling on three cabinet ministers to “pay attention” to the five-week-old strike at Many Rivers Counselling and Support Services.

Her statement, released Friday afternoon, is directed to Health and Social Services Minister Pauline Frost, Richard Mostyn, the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission, and Community Services Minister John Streicker.

The Department of Health and Social Services provides the lion’s share of Many Rivers’ budget, Hanson noted.

Meanwhile, the Public Service Commission pays for the Employee Assistance Program which is subcontracted to Many Rivers.

The Department of Community Services oversees the Societies Act. 

In a Nov. 27 letter, the Registrar of Societies indicated that the Many Rivers Society is in non-compliance with the Societies Act.

An investigator has been appointed to address complaints around membership applications, timely notification to all members of special general meetings, and failing to follow the Many Rivers Society’s own constitution and bylaws.

“These are serious concerns being raised by the Registrar of Societies,” Hanson said.

“We know a special meeting was held on Nov. 23, where some members were barred from attending.

“This strike not only impacts the striking workers, but individuals who would normally be receiving these services.

“Perhaps it is time for an independent review of these services – and time to tell Many Rivers management to respect their workers by getting back to negotiations that have gone on for over a year,” the NDP leader said.

Brent Ramsay, Many Rivers’ executive director, has not returned the Star’s calls nor emails seeking an interview.

According to the Yukon Employees’ Union, which represents the striking workers, Many Rivers’ board is made up of president Marina Bailey, second vice-president Marian Horne, first vice-president Larry Kwiat, and directors Mike Paquin, Brian Bunning, D. Stevenson, James Cahill and Michael Hanson.

See letter.

Comments (16)

Up 4 Down 4

Juniper Jackson on Dec 14, 2018 at 4:52 pm

YukonRC.. I said I was undecided... and asked for figures to substantiate what the staff were asking for, reasonable? I thought so... Read your opinion with interest until you got to the part telling me what I can and can't comment on. Don't do that, personal attacks and comments lessen the impact of your statement.

Up 10 Down 4

Jack on Dec 13, 2018 at 4:49 pm

@ you know JACK Personally I have seen the rotating door of those that use the counselling to insure they continue on the dole. One thing to be in need of the services and another to need the services.

Up 23 Down 15

YukoneRC on Dec 12, 2018 at 4:03 pm

@Juniper Jackson; most of these counselors work their tails off seeing 5 or 6 clients daily. Not hard to see that there is a very real need for the work that they do. If a person doesn't have a benefits package that covers mental health professionals, where do you suggest they go? YGs waitlists for adolescent and addictions counseling are long, and as far as I am aware, they don't offer any services like couples counseling or family counseling like Many Rivers does. If you think that their FREE services can be covered by non-government and government offices "in town" (guess you forgot about Dawson, HJ and Watson Lake), then you are so far out of touch here that you shouldn't be commenting at all.

Up 22 Down 11

Jason on Dec 12, 2018 at 2:17 pm

@Max Fraser ... Especially at this very difficult time of the year for people. Everyone needs support from time to time and MR counselors there have done an excellent job of that. The management can go kick rocks however.

Up 30 Down 10

Max Fraser on Dec 12, 2018 at 9:28 am

Very disappointed in the management and board of Many Rivers. The board should provide a mandate to settle, so people who need services can once again receive them. This is crucial for many people and families in our community. And YG can play a role as Liz Hanson suggests. Get on with settling.

Up 24 Down 12

Juniper Jackson on Dec 11, 2018 at 10:02 pm

I am undecided at this time just what role Many Rivers fills that could not be filled by other non-government and government offices in town. Mental Health has a complete staff of counsellors and psychiatrists, and psychologists. There are addictions counsellors, family abuse counsellors, personal issue counsellors, suicide prevention lines, lines if people are just lonely. Some of the difference might be that Many Rivers counselling is free I believe, except for government employee's, and YTG covers that.

Regardless of one's opinion on this issue, there seems to be a complete lack of respect on both sides. I have not seen Many Rivers put forward a clear need for their services, (how many clients? how many were helped? how many are men? women? youngsters? Hours spent, have computers been looked at to see how many hours were spent on FB? or Surfing? They must have the numbers that would support their continued existence.) But, I have not seen Health and Social put forward any requests. In order to conclude a successful negotiation, there should be a sincere desire to do that. I don't see that on either side.

Up 17 Down 17

CJ on Dec 11, 2018 at 8:47 pm

This is sad. Many Rivers has been a godsend for Yukon communities for decades (it had another name before). It's terrible to think of the clients that are going without the help right now. What I saw of the unions' demands looked pretty straightforward and mostly along the lines of what any government worker has.

It's a confidential service, so people aren't going to be that vocal about supporting them. The Liberals should show some backbone about this, governing isn't just about the big, showy things. This is exactly the kind of thing that shows you what our elected officials are made of.

Many Rivers is an essential service in the Yukon and the counselors need to be treated well. They shouldn't have to be picketing in the first place. What a shameful way to treat people who devote their lives to mental health. Is Liz Hanson the first politician to speak up about this? That's something I'll remember in the next election.

Up 10 Down 2

You Know JACK? on Dec 11, 2018 at 7:02 pm

@ JACK - Do you know Jack? I think not! You know Jack Schmidt.
Yes - Let us get rid of the elements of civil society. No counseling for you, you poor impoverished beggar!
Get your counseling from the government. It’s free and they will take good care of you... The government is your friend... Just ask Jack.

Up 16 Down 6

jake on Dec 11, 2018 at 5:22 pm

@ Johnson Agreed services needed to help those that are willing to go that extra step and help themselves. But where does this all end? It has grown into a animal we can't afford.

Up 32 Down 18

Johnson on Dec 11, 2018 at 3:55 pm

It's really disappointing to see the Board of Directors behaving as they are, and disrespecting these workers.

I don't know what the Executive Director hopes to achieve from all this foolery, at some point he'll have to hold the meeting, and then watch his empire crash before him as his handpicked board of directors is ousted.

For those who say this service is not needed - these are qualified councilors who provide support on a sliding pay scale. Everyone deserves to be well and happy, and affordable, accessible counciling services are an important part of that.

Up 29 Down 40

Sandy Silver Jr on Dec 11, 2018 at 1:48 pm

These are overly entitled, government employees whining about what they "deserve". A growing problem for the Yukon after all the recent liberal Ontario imports.

Up 41 Down 22

Dave on Dec 11, 2018 at 5:02 am

Maybe Many Rivers should change it’s name to Many Headaches. What exactly does it do besides having supposedly questionable membership practices? If memory serves correctly it started out as one of these organizations that formed and then somehow managed to convince left wing politicians that its existence was justified and got latched onto the government teat for funding.

Up 27 Down 7

Dancin Hanson on Dec 10, 2018 at 9:55 pm

Oh Pauline the frost is in the air as you sit on your tuffet twiddling your hair,
What strike say you the devil may care,
Oh John oh John the picket line does go on and on,
A solution is at hand though we may not like her if there is a deal John you should Streicker,
King Richard sits upon his Liberal throne,
Perhaps some negotiating skills he could hone,
But alas the staff at Many Rivers will get no bone,

Up 36 Down 20

Jack on Dec 10, 2018 at 7:05 pm

Huh okay Liz but maybe just maybe what we are paying for is not what we are receiving. I often wonder when it comes to NGO's if their main agenda is survival. Just keep convincing those that fund them, that everything they do is crucial and the universe would collapse without their services. For me I am not convinced Many Rivers is needed anymore.

Up 29 Down 26

My Opinion on Dec 10, 2018 at 6:50 pm

Just let them walk around outside. It will get cold soon.

Up 33 Down 14

Edue rue on Dec 10, 2018 at 5:48 pm

Disappointed to see Michael Hanson’s name as a Director. He’s a good guy who has the personal influence to end this strike. I’m so sad to see those workers there daily, while the management continue to get their salaries. Shame on them all and Whitehorse won’t forget these names.

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