Ours is the story of a century.
A century of care for workers. A century of support for employers. A century of community, partnership, accountability and compassion.
One hundred years ago, Yukon embraced a workers’ compensation system that Canada itself had only just adopted. It was a system that strove for balance between the interests of workers and employers, to reconcile the goals of business with the sanctity of worker health and safety.
It was an ambitious effort for its time, but limited in its scope compared to the system we have now. The legislators of the day could not possibly have imagined the comprehensive framework of injured worker care and workplace health and safety for which they were laying the groundwork.
Looking back, we can see that their efforts were just the beginning of a long story. And what a story it is.
It is a story of compassion.
Healthy and safe workers. Successful and prosperous employers. These things are not mutually exclusive. They are complementary. A century has proven that. Workers and employers now recognize that their interests share common values.
It is a story of learning.
Better than caring for a worker who has experienced an injury, is to prevent them from ever having to suffer it at all. While we take tremendous pride in a century of advancements in financial support, medical care and rehabilitation, we have also learned that enabling workers and employers to avoid injury and illness altogether carries greater reward.
It is a story of understanding.
The body and mind are one. We know that now. A century ago psychological injuries were invisible to us. Today we perceive them every bit as clearly as we do broken bones and strained backs. Our evolved understanding of mental health is a rallying cry for whole-worker wellness in the new century.
It is a story of partnership.
We are not an island. We are a member of a vibrant health and safety community. Strong, positive relationships with stakeholders who represent workers and employers were formed over the years and are nurtured to this day. These relationships are invaluable and crucial to helping us achieve our common goals.
It is a story of responsibility.
We manage the funds employers contribute to care for workers who are injured. We are accountable for the prudent management of that money. We are answerable for its use in the best interests of injured workers and their families. What some might view as a burden, we cherish as an opportunity to improve our community.
It is a story about looking ahead.
The past and present form a platform for the future. Workplace safety is not just about those on the job right now. We look forward to the employers and workers of tomorrow and already see them before us in our young people. We must continue to foster their place within our narrative.
It is a story of coming home.
Workers’ compensation began in Yukon as a simple system administered from afar. Over the decades a workplace health and safety community took root and flourished here in the North. It has since blossomed into the local institution we have today, serving Yukoners and staffed by our own citizens.
It is a story of people.
Let’s start with those in that blue-and-yellow building at the corner of 4th and Strickland. They carry out their work every day on behalf of workers and employers with unshakeable dedication, diligence and professionalism. Workplace health and safety is in every fibre of their being. It’s in their DNA.
Then, of course, there are the people in Yukon’s homes and workplaces. These are the people who fuel the economy of our great territory, who give it life and vigour. They make Yukon what it is, and they drive our commitment to foster health and safety measures in the workplace.
This is you of whom we speak.
And this story is yours.
Our part in your story, as a Board of Directors, is by your side in service. We do so with honour and pride, and in anticipation of its next chapter.
For it is a story that cannot end. It is a story that must continue. As long as there are workplaces, and as long as there are people in them, the story of protecting health and safety and preventing disability must go on.
As this first century in our history closes, we cannot slacken our pace or even stop to rest. There is too much at stake.
Workers. Employers. Their families and loved ones. Every person in Yukon. All depend on us and those who come after us to continue our advance, to drive the spirit towards our undeniable vision: zero.
Zero hurt, zero ill, zero dead from workplace events.
We will continue to pursue this vision tirelessly. And we will prevail. Because what’s at stake is too important, too valuable, too precious.
So let not this first century form an end, but prove a beginning. Let it be our foundation, our roadmap for the years ahead.
Workers’ compensation and occupational health and safety have stood the test of time in Yukon. They are now part of the bedrock of both the economy and the culture of our modern territory. They help our businesses to thrive and grow. They are what bring us home to our families, friends and loved ones every day.
They are what make pride simmer in our hearts. We are the fortunate few who sit as a board and govern the system on behalf of the employers and workers of Yukon. We are humbled to be accepted in this role and emboldened by the demands on us.
We are your Board of Directors, and we look forward to this first step into a new century by your side. Together we are prepared for the challenges and opportunities ahead. Together we will foster the continued prosperity of Yukon’s businesses. Together we will care for injured workers. Together we will continue improving the health and safety of workplaces throughout Yukon.
Thank you for your partnership and your trust.