Photo by Whitehorse Star
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.
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