Let’s review our economic record

The Yukon Party has always put jobs and the economy at the front of its agenda - something the opposition has often criticized. 

COMMENTARY

by Darrell Pasloski

The Yukon Party has always put jobs and the economy at the front of its agenda – something the opposition has often criticized.

So in reading the recent commentary by the NDP, (“The Yukon Party shows us how to not run an economy,” March 9) we find it more than a little ironic. Even so, at least the opposition has finally figured out that jobs and the economy matter to Yukoners.

It’s certainly better than their usual fear-mongering and misinformation on things like caring for our seniors, another field that this government has an enviable list of achievements and accomplishments.

But as the NDP mentioned, there is an economic record that can be reviewed. So, let’s review that record.

Our government has worked relentlessly to defend and advance our resource sector. And we do so because we respect and admire the men and women who work in the industry. We care about their families and we want to see them succeed.

We support these Yukon families because we have always understood that mining is about more than mines – it’s about all the other businesses that benefit and the families they support. It’s about the retail sector, our restaurants and service sector, mine servicing companies and more.

That’s why we funded the Yukon Mineral Exploration Program for the past several years and we contributed money to the Yukon Mining Alliance to promote Yukon as a world-class mining jurisdiction. In addition, the world-renowned Yukon Geological Survey continues to map Yukon’s mineralization potential and we are planning resource access roads in our key mining regions.

While mining remains the cornerstone of our economy, it is far from the only important driver. Our territory is blessed with remarkable entrepreneurs from all different backgrounds and in many fields.

Whether it’s tourism – which has benefited from multiple years of government investment in marketing – or the technology and software sector- which has blossomed during our government’s term and will see a $2 million increase to the government IT procurement envelope – the Yukon Party has demonstrated that diversification doesn’t need to come at the expense of the resource sector.

It’s worth discussing our approach to diversification, because it is one of those areas that Yukoners can see a clear difference from the Yukon Party versus the approaches put forward by either opposition party. While the other parties talk about diversification as a way to replace resource sector jobs, we view diversification as a way to complement all of our existing sectors and create new opportunities for Yukoners and their families.

Yukoners shouldn’t be asked to choose between the resource sector and the tourism and IT sectors. The Yukon Party believes that a prosperous economy includes multiple sectors and we don’t believe in pitting one against the other.

As for procurement, our record is once again a useful place to look for facts, because as usual, the NDP have cherry-picked to misrepresent government practice to Yukoners.

The reality is that from April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2015, the average value of contracts awarded in Yukon was $281 million annually and, on average, $208 million worth of contracts went to Yukon companies. And of the contracts awarded to larger, outside companies, the vast majority of the jobs created went to local subcontractors.

Total contracts is another useful measure. So how does the Yukon Party record stack up on that account? Well over that same time frame, Yukon government awarded an average of 4,336 contracts each year. On average, 3,614 of those contracts went to local companies.

It may not be something the opposition wants Yukoners to know, but the reality is that the Yukon government, under the Yukon Party leadership, is committed to ensuring our contracting community benefits from capital investments.

Which gets us to the next part of our record – year over year massive investments in capital projects. Our government understands that during downturns in the resource sector, it requires capital investment to spur job creation and growth.

Our government has also recognized that there are challenges with procurement. That’s why we struck a committee of local and national experts to listen to the contracting community and make recommendations on how to address issues.

But I would also caution anyone from voting for a party that wants to begin inserting political decision making into contracting. Our government firmly believes that Yukon contractors are among the best in the country and that they can win the vast majority of government contracts. And as the facts set out above show, they do win most contracts.

As for Faro, the opposition is again misrepresenting contracting practices to Yukoners. No matter how much anyone wants the Yukon government to restrict that contract to Yukon firms, we cannot. The project is funded through federal money and the contract was awarded through a fair and competitive process. What this government did do was ensure that the successful bidder would utilize local labour and capacity opportunities, including the local First Nation.

Any political party that promises to limit that contract to local firms either doesn’t understand procurement or is misrepresenting what can be done.

So, before Yukoners start buying into fear-mongering disguised as policy, I would ask that they go back to our record. Look at what our government has achieved and how well the Yukon has weathered the recent economic downturn.

And when looking at the opposition parties, spend some time assessing what they have said and what positions they have taken. Because what they say in opposition tells you how they will govern.

Darrell Pasloski is premier of the Yukon.

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