Ryan Leef needs to read more than the Conservative platform.
The Conservative budget tabled just before the election has cuts to the North. Lots of them.
If the Conservatives win a majority, those cuts will go ahead.
Sure, those cuts may not have been under the line item of “transfer payments”Ã because that would cause a panic in the population.
Instead, there’s more than $300 million in cuts to Northern Affairs and Cannor funding to the North.
According to a CBC article published online on April 4, the tabled Conservative budget lists:
• Nearly $220 million slashed from the Indian and Northern Affairs Department’s northern land, resources and environmental management programs.
• A $57-million funding cut for programs that promote the conservation of northern natural resources.
• $17 million in community development funds cut from the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (Cannor), a federal agency established in 2009 to promote economic development in the territories.
• $15.6-million cut from programs that promote regional development in the territories.
• $1.3-million cut from programs that promote political, social and scientific development in the territories.
Now, if the Yukon territory has tabled a budget with an increased $55 million in spending from the federal government, and the territorial government’s $1-billion budget relies on nearly $800 million from federal funds, what’s going to happen when those cuts commence?
The Conservative platform may promise hundreds of millions in one-time infrastructure projects, like extending the Dempster or supporting the Alaska Pipeline project, but how does that benefit individual northerners?
What has been lacking in political leadership in the Yukon since devolution is support of the people: investment in ongoing social programs, affordable housing, education.
Sure, Yukoners may not expect a free lunch, but with more than 7,500 citizens employed in the public sector out of a working population of 16,000, who exactly is buying that lunch?