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Yukon gov't wants teacher with multiple sclerosis to pay back thousands of dollars

Melanie Bonar is getting paid again after the Yukon Teachers' Association filed an injunction in Yukon Supreme Court last week.

Claims teacher Melanie Bonar owes $18.6K in overpayments

The Yukon Teachers' Association filed for an injunction on Melanie Bonar's behalf, but the government agreed to resume her pay before there were any arguments in Yukon Supreme Court. (Dave Croft/CBC)

A Whitehorse school teacher with multiple sclerosis is getting paid again after the Yukon Teachers' Association filed for an injunction to stop the territorial government from withholding her pay.

The Yukon government hasn't been paying Melanie Bonar in order to recover what it claims were overpayments. On her behalf, the teachers' association filed for an injunction in the Yukon Supreme Court on Thursday to stop the deductions.

Bonar, a Vanier Catholic Secondary School teacher, said in an affidavit filed in court that in 2009 she noticed numbness in her legs which worsened to the point where she began falling down.

Bonar said vision problems then followed.

She was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis — a disease of the central nervous system. She said it's caused fatigue and vision and walking problems for her, as well as other symptoms.

Bonar said after the diagnosis she took about a year off work then returned to teaching part-time.

Owed $18K in overpayments

Long-term disability payments covered 70 per cent of her salary and her teacher wages the other 30 per cent. Those payments were based on reports sent by the government to the insurance company, she said.

Bonar said, however, those reports prepared by the government were inconsistent and late.

During those years she said didn't receive the full salary she was entitled to. In some years her salary was thousands of dollars short, she said.

Nevertheless, in November 2017 she was told she owed more than $11,000 in overpayments, she said.

Bonar later received a second notice telling her she owed another $7,600.

The Yukon Teachers' Association filed grievances for both.

Treatment described as 'harsh, vindictive'

Bonar said in April she noticed her pay stub said $0.00 and subsequent paydays were the same.

She is still receiving long-term disability payments. But Bonar said health insurance only covers 80 per cent of her medical costs. Her disability payments, she said, are not enough to cover both her cost of living and health care.

The injunction filed on her behalf describes her treatment by the government as, "harsh, vindictive and unconscionable."

Bonar's lawyer, James Tucker, said Friday that since the injunction was filed, the government has agreed to resume her pay while the grievances are resolved. He said as a result, there is no need for the injunction.

A spokesperson for the Yukon Public Service Commission said it is not commenting on the dispute.

The government did not file any documents with the court.

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