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Yukon Federation of Labour loses government funding

The Yukon Federation of Labour has been receiving $36,000 a year from the Yukon government's department of economic development, to use for training and events.

Territorial government says there's no mandate to continue funding YFL through economic development department

Yukon's Department of Economic Development says the Yukon Federation of Labour is not a registered entity in Yukon, and also that YFL's request for funds does not align with the department's mandate. (Yukon Federation of Labour )

The Yukon government's department of economic development says it will no longer fund the Yukon Federation of Labour (YFL) because the organization does not fit its criteria for funding.

For nearly the last 20 years, YFL had an agreement with the department. Before this year, the government provided YFL with $36,000 per year, for programs, training and events such as the National Day of Mourning ceremony.

But now, that annual funding has been halted.

The department says YFL is not a registered entity in Yukon, and also that the YFL's request for funds does not align with the government's mandate. 

"When we assessed Yukon Federation's most recent proposal, which we received back in October 2017, we determined that the Federation's activities as described, although very important, did not link directly to the department's economic development mandate," says Andy Gaule, director of business and industry development with the Department of Economic Development.

YFL president Justin Lemphers disagrees. He says YFL does contribute to Yukon's economy by supporting things like training and worker's rights.

'There is a very real dollar amount that is saved when you have a workforce that understands their rights and responsibilities,' says YFL president Justin Lemphers, seen here at the Day of Mourning ceremony, put on by the YFL each year. (Yukon Federation of Labour )

"There is a very real dollar amount that is saved when you have a workforce that understands their rights and responsibilities, that knows how to work safely, that isn't a drain on the health care system, that is actively contributing to society — and that cost, while hard to map, is real," says Lemphers.

Gaule also says YFL is not eligible for funding because it's not registered as a society in Yukon.

"They would need to come back to us with proof they are a legal entity in good standing, and come back to us with a project that aligns with our department's mandates," says Gaule.

Next steps

Lemphers says YFL is willing to meet the legal requirements to become a registered society, if that's what it takes.

"If the Federation of Labour is required under Yukon legislation to meet certain conditions, to be recognized as a legal entity, then we will have to look into our capacity to meet those requirements," Lemphers adds.

He also says YFL would apply for funding to other government departments, if there is a better fit.

YFL says the funding helps cover events like the Day of Mourning ceremony, held each year in Whitehorse. (Yukon Federation of Labour )

"If the Yukon government recognizes that Yukon Federation of Labour is an important agency, and that the service we provide has value, then they should be willing to help us find a vehicle within the Yukon government that is able to fund us," says Lemphers.

There are seven unions in Yukon that currently are under the YFL as affiliates, including the Yukon Employees' Union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and United Steelworkers.

Lemphers says YFL has close to 5,000 members in Yukon with the most being Yukon government employees.

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