Yukon government criticized for decision to outsource printing to the private sector

The Yukon government is turning to the private sector for the printing of government documents, affecting staff at its government printing agency Queen's Printer.

'We've heard from some staff that they, along with the union, were blindsided,' says opposition leader

Yukon's Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn in a file photo from earlier this year. (Jane Sponagle/CBC)

The Yukon government is turning to the private sector for the printing of government documents — and it's being met with criticism.

In the legislature Monday, the government shared more details about an announcement it made last week that it will be cutting back on the use of the Queen's Printer, a government agency.  

"The Queen's Printer Agency will now focus exclusively on sensitive material, such as a budget document, instead of the wide range of government printing services it currently offers," said Richard Mostyn, minister of highways and public works.   

Mostyn said the move will save $1.6 million per year. The government has not said which businesses will take over regular printing services.

He said no employees of the Queen's Printer will lose their jobs, as 17 workers will be moved to new positions within government.

Workers 'blindsided' and 'devastated'

Yukon Party leader Stacey Hassard said the government should have given Queen's Printer staff more notice.

"We've heard from some staff that they, along with the union, were blindsided," Hassard said.

"In fact, some were apparently only told their jobs were affected ... 10 minutes before the global note went out publicly. [In] no world is that an appropriate or fair way to manage staff."

They were devastated.- Steve Geick, Yukon Employees' Union president

Members of the Yukon Employees' Union held an emergency meeting on Friday night. Some said they were furious about how the privatization was being handled.

Steve Geick, union president, told CBC last week the affected workers have been treated with disrespect.

"Some of these people have been there 30 years. I don't think there's anybody that works at Queen's Printers or supply services that hasn't at least worked there for a decade and a half, [and] take very much pride in their work," said Geick. 

"They were devastated." 

NDP MLA Liz Hanson said the claim that the move will save the government $1.6 million was unsubstantiated, based on the government's plan. (iStock)

Geick said although the government promised nobody will be let go, he said their job descriptions are being rewritten.

He also disputes the government's claim that it worked with the union through the process. Geick says the Queen's Printer was discussed once, during a meeting last December and not since.

Mostyn said on Monday that his department started working with the union in late September of this year, within a week of cabinet's decision. 

Move saving gov't 1.6M 'unsubstantiated': MLA

NDP MLA Liz Hanson agreed with the Yukon Party that staff should have been given more notice. She also balked at the statement from Mostyn claiming the decision-making process was transparent.  

"Mr. Speaker we suggest this is hardly a respectful way to treat the public service. A complete contradiction of espoused values."

She also said the claim that the move will save the government $1.6 million was unsubstantiated, based on the government's plan.  

Mostyn acknowledged that transition is difficult, but said the government has to move with a changing world.

"Annual reports and that type of thing, they're being printed online, they're going online. The world has shifted and so we have to shift with it," he said.

"It is certainly difficult for our staff and I appreciate that better than most," Mostyn said, referring to his time in the newspaper industry.  

Mostyn said the Liberal government will continue working with the union during the transition period. 

With files from Chris Windeyer


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