Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by Whitehorse Star

Steve Geick

YEU rebukes premier over ailing workers dispute

The president of the Yukon Employees’ Union (YEU) is not happy with Premier Sandy Silver.

By Tim Giilck on February 17, 2021

The president of the Yukon Employees’ Union (YEU) is not happy with Premier Sandy Silver.

Last week, during an interview with the Star, Steve Geick said sources within the government had told him during a meeting that up to 60 per cent of health and social services workers were off the job on Feb. 5.

During last Thursday’s weekly COVID-19 briefing, Silver and Dr. Brendan Hanley, the chief medical officer of health, were very critical of the figures Geick released and which were reported by the Star.

“It’s very upsetting,” Hanley said.

Silver said, “it’s simply not true that 60 per cent of continuing care workers were off the job last Friday (Feb. 5), and I think that’s irresponsible to spread misinformation and potentially stoking fears about the vaccine rollout.”

Geick is not prepared to let those comments go by without firing back.

In an open letter to Silver that was released to the media late Tuesday afternoon, Geick made it clear he was not impressed by the blowback.

“It seems there is a lot of misinformation floating around the Yukon these days,” Geick wrote.

“Perhaps instead of pointing fingers and spreading misinformation yourself, you should look internally within Health and Social Service and make sure your house is in order.

“Sandy, perhaps it’s time you admit that neither yourself nor minister (Pauline) Frost have any control over the largest and arguably most important department of the Yukon government right now,” Geick continued.

“And perhaps the next time you feel the urge to call out the union’s facts in such a forum you first do some fact-checking of your own.”

Geick reiterated the information he received and quoted from were culled directly from government sources – the same ones Silver quoted from when he said only 10 per cent of employees from the department were off sick with Moderna vaccine side effects.

“The information Yukon Employees’ Union shared with our membership last week came straight from a senior manager within Health and Social Services,” Geick wrote.

“This information was shared with a senior representative of the Public Service Commission and me, during a meeting.

“This H&SS manager confirmed repeatedly that fully 60 per cent of continuing care staff across facilities were off work while waiting out the predictable side effects of this vaccine,” Geick wrote.

“Let me reiterate; the PSC representative and I each confirmed several times that the 60 per cent number was accurate and was true for all of Continuing Care.”

Geick went to write that on Feb. 8, “I received a call from the Public Service Commission to say that we had been misinformed.

“I immediately contacted the media to inform them prior to them releasing anything and posted something on our website and social media to that effect.”

That change was also noted in the story published by the Star on Feb. 8

Geick further stated “the direction provided to these members by H&SS management was a complete cluster; a mashup of confusing misinformation and contradictory instructions.

“Some workers were told to stay home and await contact from the CDC, others told to isolate while at work, still others told to take sick days while awaiting further direction.

“As premier, you are the employer, Mr. Silver.

“Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to make sure your management team is all pulling in the same direction with the well-being of all Yukoners in mind. And by all Yukoners, I mean all Yukoners – including your own workforce.”

Geick’s letter also stated, “YEU supports the Yukon’s vaccination rollout completely, and we encourage our members to be vaccinated – especially essential health care workers.

“Our message to members is and has been that while COVID vaccine symptoms are manageable and predictable, the employer needs to respond with accurate, timely information that is uniform and consistent.

“Additionally, it is our expectation that you – as the employer – make plans that take into account the predictable side effects of any mass vaccination program.”

Matthew Cameron, a senior spokesperson for the cabinet, rebutted Geick’s claims in an email to the Star this morning.

“As members of the community with a public voice, the YEU has an obligation to communicate accurate information. The statement YEC issued was widely shared before it was eventually corrected,” Cameron wrote.

“While some staff were absent, it is not true that 60 per cent of continuing care workers were off the job on Friday, Feb. 5. At times like this, it’s important that we all work together to share accurate information that supports our communities.”

Comments (30)

Up 7 Down 0

Vern Schlimbesser on Feb 23, 2021 at 5:49 am

They next Government we elect won't fix this, because they can't!
The beast is self replicating and the problem is in control in actuality.

Up 10 Down 4

R. U. Cray-Zeedood on Feb 21, 2021 at 3:26 pm

@ EJ - The commonality is sociopathic behaviour - In that these Liberals are very much the same. The outcomes of their behaviours are different because the contexts are different.

Just like a Liberal to focus on the outcome rather than the process - FFS!

Up 23 Down 7

Thanks for showing up on Feb 20, 2021 at 8:00 pm

Thanks for the update YEU - this government lies, HSS is a lying mess. Silver, MacDonald, Samis and Healey - yes Healey who has escaped any and all responsibility. There is no justice there is no accountability- there are lies, there is cover up, harassment and reward for those who remained silent. Shame HSS, shame. YEU you're way too late to this issue.

Up 13 Down 5

EJ on Feb 20, 2021 at 12:55 pm

The current government is nothing like Trump. Liberals are the opposite of Trump, sorry to inform you.
Trump was all about low taxes, gun rights, freedom of speech, de-regulation, stripping environmental protections in favor of oil, gas and mining development etc. Whether that's a good or bad thing is another story.

So as you can see, these are all traditional conservative values. Luckily there is no territorial conservative party. Just 3 very progressive ones.

Up 22 Down 4

Jonathan - same people, same result on Feb 20, 2021 at 5:23 am

@badmojo, @honesty @Lost in the Yukon - everything you say is true. HSS is a disaster, what has transpired there, unaddressed and unchecked in 4 years is unbelievable. Trump should recruit them for his next run for office. If the invisible DM Samis is working in Ontario he should be part of the “cleaning of house”. Samis has been an absent leader who has contributed to one disaster after another with his “we were misinformed and I’m sorry” song. I see the same names come up as requiring an exit and accountability plan - Mostyn, Frost, McDonald, Healey and Silver. These names also came up on the Harassment article last week. HSS stands for Harrassment, Self-serving, sociopaths with the motto “ Place to lie”

Up 24 Down 7

DMZ on Feb 19, 2021 at 2:53 pm

Doesn't it seem like any feedback at all that doesn't echo the message of government and public officials is labelled as "misinformation" and "misinformation" is another word for "traitor", "unpatriotic", and "ignorant hick"?

And why is Brendan Hanley offering his two cents, which seems based on assuming that Silver is correct in calling Geick incorrect...these medical people, they're so pious about "science isn't political" and they're among the worst for mixing in it politically.

I don't care who is right or wrong and I wish that whatever Geick is after didn't get buried in "second shot causes illness", but I don't see that was something the government or Hanley were going to address until they were put on the spot.

Up 21 Down 1

What’s Up Governor? on Feb 19, 2021 at 12:28 pm

Dear Disgraceful and Disgusted - #MeAlso. I saw so many things that were disturbing in terms of supervision/management in LTC. There were ongoing violations of resident privacy, a very real lack of privacy law, and a general disregard for the rights and concerns of LTC residents.

Quite literally staff and management believed and continue to believe that they can violate the rights of the residents because acting in accordance with the law was too difficult and made work too onerous.

On complaint to my supervisor of all the privacy violations on file and in practice I was instructed to “make the paperwork fit the practice”. This was direct instruction to cover up the privacy violations which should have been reported. The reason we report things is not to get people in trouble but to correct our practices in accordance with the law.

I had one colleague who accused me of being black and white. I looked back at this colleague with blinking disbelief. There is no general exception to the issue of privacy - The resident is in control of their information - Collected and disseminated - FFS! The only exception is if they have been declared incapable and this is not just a say so - It requires documented assessment!

It was clear from the paperwork on file that previous staff had no clue about privacy law, and little knowledge about HIPMA. They would gossip openly in public spaces, corridors etc. These are peoples lives - FFS!

Then there are the meetings behind closed doors in which they would talk openly about everything and make jokes that made fun of their residents and their situations. It was disgusting behaviour. The problem here is that staff would often stop their meeting until the conversation in the hallway died down - Now that’s some serious LOL - But not really. The room was not private and they knew that. They would talk about residents mental and medical health concerns - FFS!

The ethical standard in Continuing Care should not be putting your fingers in your ears walking around going - Lalalalala...
In one conversation about a residents capacity the supervisor questioned the doctors finding that the resident was competent to make his/her/their own decisions and instructed Social Work staff to “make him incapable”. To fit the practice I guess.

My point is... There are some decent people who care and work in these places, often in an ethical manner, but that should never be the public’s assumption let alone presumption.

The problem is that they have decided that because it is easier this way that those who assert that others rights are not dependent on the ease with which your job can be performed are often ostracized, harassed, and discriminated against - Why are you making it so difficult?

These people are making medical decisions that affect the lives of real people - FFS!
Lie and coverup. Oops, that could get me into trouble so I’ll make that document disappear. Meanwhile the resident is languishing - FFS!

Yes - Nice department - Hell’th and antiSocial disServices!
Meanwhile we got Silver and Crew going... These are not the droids you’re looking for!

Up 20 Down 3

Groucho d'North on Feb 19, 2021 at 12:23 pm

Someone once said, "83 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot" I tend to agree as percentages are not an exact method of confirming a situation. Hard numbers are far more accurate and illustrative. So how many (a real number here) continuing care staff were affected by the vaccine shot a couple Fridays back? The HR branches are quite dilligent in recoding this data, so it is available. Put the numbers on the table and let's see who is blowing smoke here.

Up 24 Down 2

Disgraceful,Disgusted on Feb 18, 2021 at 6:26 pm

Yes, agreeing so much with Brenda's comments.
Hs&S under Minister Frost and Co is disgraceful! I bet it was more 30-40 percent of staff away. Obviously a number do not have parents in one of the LTC facilities and really see what does go on. Nice weather in summer, - gee I am sick, but we are on the Yukon River in a canoe, gone camping - heard it, seen it. Care is getting to be far no better than Southern provinces. Staff do not work for their easy money. Gee Yes I used to work in the East, but this job is easy peasy. Double the pay, half the work as one staff told me! Managers absent a lot of the time, their response to families, if, at all is worthless.
A new broom needs to sweep clean in the whole HS&S dept. then let the union clean up staff issues with those who are there to work for the govt making (abusing) those monies. This is a sore issue for the soul of our Yukon! We all shall do our part in the election, please let us seriously take all this to heart. Those in LTC need our best assistance and care, they have earned it.

Up 18 Down 1

Lost In the Yukon on Feb 18, 2021 at 4:07 pm

Dearest Bad Mojo Brewing ... is the Invisible Samis still working from Ontario?

Up 24 Down 4

Honesty is so refreshing on Feb 18, 2021 at 3:48 pm

@badmojo brewing - yes, yes, yes!!!

You are 100% right - YG is broken and HSS leads the pack. How Frost, Samis, McDonald, Healey are all still allowed to be in their positions - beyond disgusting. They wrote the book on how to commit wrongdoing and get away with it. Yukon’s version of the Trump administration is right !!

Up 13 Down 13

Clueless Membership on Feb 18, 2021 at 1:13 pm

@ It’s Time To Retire Steve - Let me respond in childish-kind. Wow - What a cool name you have, It’s Time To Retire Steve, given that the article is about Steve - Coincidental or what? Do the police give you a hard time when they stop you? What about Cannabis shops?

Anyway - Mother named me after my grandfather and he was a hardworking, intelligent, and kind person - so thanks. My name does suit me.
I see that Geick is not the only mouthpiece in the Union.

Up 41 Down 1

Bad Mojo Brewing on Feb 18, 2021 at 12:54 pm

On top of everything else I have observed H&SS staff alter legal documents. In another incident H&SS staff made a document disappear from the file.
When I went to report these occurrences to the office of Wrongdoing I was told I would likely be fired because the process is outside of the Collective Agreement - I would not be protected.

I was also told that if I had an ongoing civil suit or any other matter before the courts involving the government I could not file a claim of wrongdoing.
So Mostyn - What is a person to do? It’s a bulls hit process!

The employer finds out and the harassment begins. But hey, at least I was open, transparent, and held accountable. Nice sham YG has going.
The Union? You need to go to RWO!
There are way too many clowns in this circus.

Just another day: YG is beyond broken. It is supervised and managed by individuals who are likely familiar with the diagnostic criteria for sociopathy.
I suppose that is the real reason they have to hire from outside the Territory - Because we know these people.
But this should be no surprise to anyone from the Yukon - It has been this way for a longtime but much worse in the last 4 years.

There is even on the record evidence that H&SS management has lied but somehow these people are still there - WTF!

Geick and Silver should work on their resignation letters together and provide them as templates to Frost, Samis, Mc/MacDonald, and the current management team for H&SS - Take Hanley too please.

Up 17 Down 8

Ron on Feb 18, 2021 at 7:20 am

Peter, taxpayers are not the employer. If that were true, southerners would have controlling interest here, since their tax dollars make up roughly 80% of the budget.

Up 37 Down 7

Just another day for YG on Feb 18, 2021 at 3:50 am

I have lost count of how many times this government in their four years in power have lied, intimidated and tried to “spin” a situation. It is a good thing Geick is not a YG employee because he would be harassed, intimidated and eventually fired for this. The government is so broken and we the people are so used to the lies, harassment and cover up it is just another day at YG.
Some days I look around YG and think where is the public in public service ? Where is the accountability? The last four years have been the Yukon’s version of the Trump administration - fake news, firing people who challenge the leadership, cover ups and promotions to those who are loyal to the corruption and lies. I have worked for almost 30 years in YG and have seen some shady business but these last four years of Premiere Silver, Minister Frost and Minister Mostyn, well they have set a new bar for bad. They do it publicly and without concern for consequence. Like I said it is a good thing Steve Geick is not a YG employee he may be one of the few to survive this. He is a little late to the game but there is an election coming .......

Up 36 Down 7

Pikachu on Feb 17, 2021 at 10:18 pm

It's an election year for Mr.Geick. So the government shouldn't be surprised that he will weaponize any information (or mis-information) he gets his hands on. He wants to be seen as fighting for his members. But the problem is that in the Yukon, government workers exist in the equivalent of Disneyland. They have pay, benefits and rights that government workers in other provinces could only dream of. As a result, Geick is forced to try and create issues where none exist or try to whip up anger over the smallest and most trivial thing.

A great recent example is when he tried to make a big issue about govy workers taking 1, let me repeat ONE hour of time off to get the vaccine shot. Meanwhile many in the private sector had lost their jobs altogether. So the entitlement of the YEU is just off the charts.

Up 44 Down 2

BnR on Feb 17, 2021 at 7:33 pm

What is Steven whining about anyway? Just complaining for the sake of?
I mean, all the employees off sick are getting paid regardless, and they’ll have a job waiting for them, unlike many Yukoners.
Maybe Steve needs to get a good dose of reality.

Up 37 Down 2

Brenda on Feb 17, 2021 at 7:20 pm

Our government lies and covers up a ton of stuff. Minister Frost is a disgrace her handling of the Salvation Army Shelter the group home nightmare- lies. YEU I commend you for calling this out but where have you been ?? This is a drop in the bucket of lies and cover ups. Health and Social Services is dysfunctional and corrupt from the manager level up and what has been done about it - nothing because the ones who are in charge lie and cover up anything that makes them look bad. There is example after example - not sure why YEU decided now is the time to speak out thanks for showing up to the party - a few years late.

Up 36 Down 4

jack on Feb 17, 2021 at 7:06 pm

Geick never really paints the picture of professionalism does he? He really just seems to be grinding his way through life with never a positive word or thought.

Up 9 Down 2

iBrian on Feb 17, 2021 at 5:25 pm

Well said Groucho d'North, well said.

Up 18 Down 16

Time to retire Steve on Feb 17, 2021 at 5:23 pm

Your name really suits you. I’m a YEU member deep into my public service career. I’m not a pro union person, in fact just the opposite. I loath the fact that my earnings are extorted from my paycheque to give the likes of Geick a soapbox. The union, as long as I’ve been in it has done f**k all to keep up with the cost of living increases for almost 20 years. In fact many FN governments and the private sector outfits have eclipsed YG in terms of being an employer that values their workers, pays them well and has more attractive benefits. I’ve seen many leave YG in recent years for those reasons.

Ask Geick how many members ratified the last contract, or the one before that. Or the one before that. He won’t tell you because they go out of their way to keep a tight group of yes-men approving 1.5% increases while the cost of raising a family here increases probably closer to 10% per year.

Up 26 Down 2

Membership on Feb 17, 2021 at 4:46 pm

Geick clearly has his own agenda and not one of the workers. They are all working hard and his description of the situation is part fact and lots of fiction. Let's see what his political agenda is. The workers are the real victims here, being used as political football by their union.

Up 27 Down 1

Max Mack on Feb 17, 2021 at 4:37 pm

“It’s very upsetting,” Hanley said.

Perhaps Hanley should stick to his area, and stop being a sop for Silver and Frost.
And the faux outrage. It's "all the rage" to be outraged. Silver is outraged, Streicker is outraged, Hanley is outraged.

Frankly, it's ridiculous. Please stop. Be professionals and leave the "outrage" for hysterics.

Up 13 Down 5

bonanzajoe on Feb 17, 2021 at 4:31 pm

Peter: Mr. Silver, you will be accountable to us the taxpayer in the next election. That's hopeful thinking. However, as I said in one of my other comments, Yukoners have bad memories when election time comes. Like the Federal Libs, for the 4 years before, all their corruption and lies were forgotten and they were voted in again.

Up 18 Down 5

bonanzajoe on Feb 17, 2021 at 4:26 pm

Well, we all know Liberal governments lie - it's part of their ideology. But having said that, I still don't think the taxpayers should have to pay for any sick days Union members take off for Covid side effects. It should come out of their own sick days. And is it coincidental that the employers took off the Friday - giving them a nice long weekend? I say no coincidence. It was preplanned. Goodness, even an idiot could see through that scam. And Geick, remember, you guys vote for socialist parties in an election, because you expect to get favourable treatment from them. For you guys it's the old, "don't ask what you can do for your country, ask what your country can do for you. You wanted a socialist government, you got one. So, don't whine and complain!

Up 61 Down 11

Peter on Feb 17, 2021 at 3:13 pm

I would like to clear up the following statement that was made by the YEU.
“As premier, you are the employer, Mr. Silver. " Mr. Silver is not the employer, we the Yukon taxpayers are the employer. Mr. Silver and his party work for us, at our pleasure and can be terminated for employment. The buck stop with us, THE TAXPAYERS and Mr. Silver you will be accountable to us the Taxpayers in the next election!

Up 52 Down 11

Matthew on Feb 17, 2021 at 2:59 pm

Classic Politics..
When you lie to the government you get thrown in jail, when the government lies to you its called politics..
Real question is how much longer will the masses put up with countless blatant lies!?

Up 9 Down 18

Adam White on Feb 17, 2021 at 2:42 pm

Geick - and with that.....Mic Drop!

Up 43 Down 4

Clueless Membership on Feb 17, 2021 at 2:00 pm

Although the YEU is a crap Union that regularly fails to adequately represent their members I gotta go a little left of centre on this one.
The government is well known for pumping out false information. Management is well known, according to Richard Mostyn, for its abusive practices - Lying is one of those practices.

But you have to ask, why now Geick? Because it potentially makes you look bad in a situation you are involved in?!?!
This is the number one strategy by YG management to harass, discriminate, and discredit the membership - Those you claim solidarity with. FFS! This is pathetic.

Even when it can be demonstrated that management is being deceitful and lying or misrepresenting an issue and it is brought to the Union the Union shrugs its shoulders... Meh... The employer has the right to manage - FFS!

You YEU! You have buried any hope of workplace ‘Justice’ in process and procedure meant to maintain the myth - YG is the place to be.
The YEU should be censured for its collusion with YG... This little spat - Misdirection through political rhetoric. But it shows clearly that Geick is all about his image - Nice to know my Union dues are funding his political machismo.

Up 44 Down 11

Groucho d'North on Feb 17, 2021 at 1:22 pm

It would appear this is a contest of supportive data. Mr. Geick stands by his numbers and how he acquired them. Mr. Cameron offers statements of denial with zero supportive data. Mr. Geick is also not trying to form the next government so the truth will not impact on his position whereas the govenment has much more riding on the facts.

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.