The Government of Yukon is committed to building a strong, resilient future by investing in students’ academic, wellness and cultural needs and believes in prioritizing the mental wellness and wellbeing of school-age Yukoners across the territory.
As part of this commitment, and the ongoing work to re-imagine inclusive and special education, the Yukon government is investing significantly in student learning and wellbeing. This includes the addition of 81 new full-time student support positions over the next three years, subject to legislative approval, and a $1 million investment in student support initiatives.
These new positions, which include school wellness counsellors, education assistants, and learning assistance teachers, will be hired from 2023 to 2026.
The role of wellness counsellors, a new addition to Yukon schools, will be to provide a variety of direct supports to students, families, educators and the community, which may range from assessments, counselling, consultation and programming, case management and education, depending on the specific needs of individual schools and communities.
Part of the $1 million investment will be used to work with Yukon First Nations governments to hire Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and other community leaders. These positions will provide culturally appropriate supports that meet the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and academic needs of students.
These investments are part of the Government of Yukon’s ongoing work to improve student outcomes and implement the work of:
- the Government of Yukon’s response to the 2019 Auditor General of Canada’s Report on Kindergarten to Grade 12 programs in the Yukon;
- the 2021 Review of Inclusive and Special Education in the Yukon Final Report by Dr. Nikki Yee;
- the 2021 Child and Youth Advocate’s Review of Student Attendance; and
- the 2022 Safer Schools Action Plan.
These commitments were included in the Yukon government’s 2023 Confidence and Supply Agreement with the NDP. They are included in the Minister of Education’s mandate letter commitment to advance efforts to improve the territorial education system in collaboration with Yukon First Nations and other education partners. This initiative also flows from commitments in the Joint Education Action Plan 2014-2024, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action, and Together Today for our Children Tomorrow.
By making an unprecedented investment in school-level resources, our government is showing its commitment to better supporting the needs of diverse learners and fostering positive mental health and wellness among Yukon students. This speaks directly to our government’s work to foster an inclusive and supportive education system for all Yukoners. The inclusion of wellness counsellors and improved cultural supports represents a major milestone in our efforts to implement wrap-around support in all Yukon schools, highlighting the significance of the Comprehensive Mental Health and Wellness Approach that is currently being developed.
Minister of Education Jeanie McLean
Waiting isn't an option when it comes to Yukon students' wellbeing – this is why we prioritized more and better supports for youth in the Confidence and Supply Agreement. More Educational Assistants and Learning Assistance Teachers means kids will have more resources in classrooms. A wellness counsellor in every school will make a huge difference for students' mental health all over the territory. We look forward to seeing these changes put in place for the benefits to students everywhere in the Yukon.
Leader of the Yukon NDP Kate White
The hiring schedule for these positions is as follows:
- 40 positions in the 2023-24 school year;
- 21 positions in 2024-25; and
- the remaining 20 positions in 2025-26.
Funding for the hiring of these positions is subject to approval in the Yukon Legislative Assembly.