Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: -none- September 05, 1997 - 10:37 am

Lucien Bouchard to visit Nunavik

JANE GEORGE

QUEBEC When Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard sits down with Nunavik leaders next Tuesday in Kangiqsualujjuaq, he will become the first Quebec premier to visit the region.

This visit follows a recent uproar over the Bouchard government’s decision to assign new French names to islands in Northern Quebec.

Barring an unexpected crisis in the South, the Premier will fly direct to Kangiqsualujjaq.

There, he will spend several hours meeting with the regional council of the Kativik Regional Government (KRG) before heading on to Radisson in the James Bay region.

KRG councilors hope their meeting with the premier will be more than just a boost to Quebec’s flagging profile on native concerns.

“I hope if he’s coming all the way up here, it won’t be just to shake our hands,” says Kuujjuaq Mayor Johnny Adams, a member of the KRG council’s executive.

The KRG council is made up of 16 regional councilors, including mayors and one chief from communities in the Kativik region.

“We hope to discuss regional concerns,” says Adams. “Like housing and municipal programs.”

A discussion of self-government may also be on the final agenda, which had not yet been fixed, as of Nunatsiaq News’ press-time.

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Union wins pay equity battle with GNWT

Human rights law applies in the NWT, too, Supreme Court tells GNWT

Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT The Supreme Court of Canada has dismissed a request by the Government of the Northwest Territories to appeal a lower court decision in its longstanding pay-equity dispute with the Union of Northern Workers.

The GNWT, which argued for 10 years that employment practices in the Northwest Territories are not subject to the Canadian Human Rights Act, has no further avenue of appeal.

“This is a big win for the union and the workers,” UNW president Jackie Simpson said in a news release.

“It is now beyond dispute that northern public employees are Canadians who enjoy the protections of the Canadian Human Rights Act. It is also now beyond dispute that the GNWT pay plan is dicriminatory.”

The Canadian Human Rights Commission had previously upheld a complaint by the UNW that the GNWT discriminates against female employees when it comes to pay.

Observers believe the government is now liable for tens of millions of dollars in back pay to affected employees.

“The decision is disappointing,” GNWT Finance Minister John Todd said in a news release. “We disagree that the NWT does not have provincial-type jurisdiction in this area.”

In quashing the GNWT’s appeal Aug. 28, the Supreme Court also awarded court costs to the Public Service Alliance of Canada, which has represented workers throughout the pay-equity dispute.

Last February, the Federal Court of Appeal decided in favor of PSAC when it found no bias in the wage-gap analysis conducted by the Human Rights Commission.

“Each and every pay day many union members who work for the GNWT are being paid illegally, some of them much less that what the law of the land says they should be getting,” Simpson said.

“With this most recent decsion against them we can only hope the government will face up to its obligations and start to remedy a completely unfair situation.”

The GNWT has been trying to introduce a new job-evaluation system to address concerns over pay equity, but has so far failed in its negotiations with the UNW.

“We are committed to implement a job evaluation systen that resolves any issues over pay equity once and for all, but we must meet this commitment in a manner that is affordable and fair to all NWT residents,” Todd said in a release.

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