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Teacher’s treatment ‘unconscionable’ : lawyer

The Yukon Teachers’ Association (YTA) is petitioning the Supreme Court of Yukon to impose an injunction on the territorial government to prevent it from garnisheeing a teacher’s wages.

By Gord Fortin on June 7, 2019

The Yukon Teachers’ Association (YTA) is petitioning the Supreme Court of Yukon to impose an injunction on the territorial government to prevent it from garnisheeing a teacher’s wages.

James Tucker, the YTA’s lawyer, filed the petition on Thursday.

He is asking the court for the injunction, which would prevent the government from collecting any alleged overpayments from Melanie Bonar’s salary.

Bonar has filed two grievances regarding the alleged overpayments.

The injunction sought would only be in effect until the grievances are decided by the Yukon Teacher Labour Relations Board.

Bonar is a teacher at Vanier Catholic Secondary School in Riverdale.

She was hired in September 2007, and worked full-time until June 2010.

That month, she was diagnosed with Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis (RRMS).

The symptoms of the illness forced her to take time off work. During her time off, her symptoms went into remission.

Bonar returned to work in September 2011.

She was not able to work full-time; thus, she was brought back on a part-time basis but given full-time equivalency.

From her return to March 2019, she worked under that arrangement.

She was considered to be on leave without pay for the difference in time.

On March 2, 2011, she secured long-term disability insurance benefits from Sun Life Assurance. This covered 70 per cent of her pre-disability income.

Around November 2017, the government told her that it had been miscalculating her salary, saying it had overpaid her by approximately $11,000.

Bonar claims she does not understand how the government reached that conclusion.

“GY (the Yukon government) has not been able to provide an adequate or understandable explanation or calculation of the first overpayment,” Tucker said in the petition.

This is the subject of Bonar’s first grievance.

The government allegedly took steps to recover the $11,000.

Tucker said this included withholding Bonar’s Yukon bonus and threatening to garnishee her wages.

In April, Bonar requested to work more hours, but not at full-time. The government approved this, and made it retroactive to March 4.

The government again informed her that she had been overpaid. This time it was by $7,600, she was told.

Tucker said his client was not given a proper explanation.

Bonar alleges she received paycheques totalling $0.

“Without discussion or warning, GY began deducting all of the net income from Melanie’s paycheques such that she was receiving $0 as pay for her work at Vanier,” Tucker said in the petition.

This launched the second grievance.

Tucker said Bonar’s condition requires her to receive various treatments, therapies and medications.

If she continues to not get paid, the lawyer added, she will not be able to continue her treatment to manage her RRMS.

He said that stress can aggravate her condition.

“The stress to which Melanie is being subjected by the harsh, vindictive and unconscionable treatment of GY, places her at risk of suffering a relapse of her RRMS,” Tucker said in the petition.

The petition was scheduled to be argued in court this morning, but that hearing was adjourned to a later date.

The next appearance has not yet been scheduled.

Comments (7)

Up 8 Down 6

@ Seth Wright on Jun 12, 2019 at 8:30 am

You are bang on with your comments, Seth. The Yukon Government doing what it does well: ruining the lives of hardworking Yukon Government employees (that someone doesn't like) and using your tax dollar to do it. And not just a few of your tax dollars; oh no. They will fight tooth and nail to ensure this injunction will not be issued so as to be able to continue to deny this woman her pay with absolutely no regard to the woman's personal situation and with no regard to how many of your tax dollars are spent in this bad faith activity. The Yukon Government seems to have to win just for the sake of winning. Is this what our government is supposed to be doing with our tax dollars???? I, for one, am absolutely opposed to my tax dollars being used in this fashion.

Yes, the workers who sit idly by are definitely complicit. What about the senior officials that actually make this stuff happen? I call it betrayal of the worst kind. Ms Bonar is not the first, nor will she be the last YG employee to have their lives ruined courtesy of your and their tax dollars.
Betrayal. That's what it is. By your government. Yes, that is unconscionable.

Who makes these kinds of decisions to first deny her her pay and second to fight tooth and nail to defend YG's right to withhold her pay? Is it a caucus directive coming from the Premier? Is it a lone vindictive departmental director? Is it the PS Commissioner? WHO MAKES THESE DECISIONS?

Up 7 Down 2

This sounds like a terrible situation on Jun 11, 2019 at 4:06 pm

It'll be interesting to see what GY's/YG's/YTG's (whatever! and agreed; that was not the 'point' of the article) position on this is. In the meantime, I'm glad to hear she is at least getting paid until this is resolved.

Up 15 Down 8

Miles Canyon on Jun 10, 2019 at 7:32 pm

Seems like there is no accommodation policy for sick teachers.

It looks like a witch hunt to me.

Up 33 Down 3

My oppinion on Jun 9, 2019 at 5:33 pm

@roy
Since you appear to be the grammar police. You definitely should not use a lot of the sentence structure and punctuation you do. Very awkward read.
Leave people alone on the YTG thing. By the way we still say Mayo Rd, South Access, Carcross Road, and many others.

That is how we know you are a Greenhorn.

Up 50 Down 2

Al on Jun 8, 2019 at 1:22 pm

@Roy
I know this must be terribly hard for you to comprehend but you must be new to the Yukon (notice I used the definite article "the" preceding Yukon). It is YTG, and why? We are not a province we are a Territory - a creature of the Federal Government. There is no shame calling it YTG as that is what we are and have been since we were granted the right to form our territorial government. If it was good enough for the past 100+ years then it is good enough for today as well. Some of us old timers like to retain some cultural values. Not everything in life is about "out with the old and in with the new".
Take a few moments and reflect on our history. I just might serve you well in your new home.

Up 42 Down 9

Seth Wright on Jun 7, 2019 at 10:02 pm

Unconscionable... GY engages in unconscionable behaviour as a matter of routine operating procedure. There is a large, silent, and complicit segment of the workforce that allows this to continue... That too is unconscionable... Wake up!

Up 7 Down 53

Roy on Jun 7, 2019 at 8:55 pm

I know this isn't "the point" of this article... but why is it so hard for people to accept and adopt "YG" as the proper short form / initials of the Yukon Government? It's not YTG anymore, and it's certainly not "GY" (especially when you *immediately* follow by saying 'the Yukon government' instead of 'government of Yukon').

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