Do we need another five years of Yukon Party government?
My answer to this question is a definite no.
What we have experienced in the past nine years of Yukon Party governments is a group of MLAs who did not stand up for Yukoners.
We experienced backroom deals, sole-sourcing contracts that went through the roof in costs (i.e. Watson Lake’s $5-million extended-care facility that was scrapped and is now going to be a $30-million, six-bed hospital), secret meetings with the potential giveaway of Yukon Energy, a $35-million paper investment that was illegal, a lack of transparency in government operations and definitely no financial accountability.
What we have seen in the past two months is the bailing out of some of the key Yukon Party ministers.
Possibly the main reason they do not want to be part of the next Yukon Party government is because the bills for their excessive spending will be exposed and they don’t want the finger pointing at them.
My main concern is the so-called surplus we are supposed to have is not really a surplus at all.
If you add up the Yukon Hospital Corporation’s borrowing of close to $100 million for high-class apartments in Whitehorse, and two six-bed hospitals being built in Dawson City and Watson Lake, and the $100 million that Yukon Energy is borrowing for Mayo Site B, Yukoners are now in debt to the tune of $200 million.
We also know that the Whitehorse hospital needs a major addition to improve its emergency department and to add more beds to an already overworked facility. My estimation is that this going to cost in the range of $50 to $100 million.
Where is this money coming from?
In the last month before the election call, Premier Darrell Pasloski has announced the following new capital projects.
1) A new recreation complex for Dawson City that is going to cost close to $25 million.
2) A new FH Collins High School that will cost more than $50 million.
3) A new ambulance complex that will cost over $7 million.
4) The possibility of a court order to build a French high school that is going to cost in the range of $40 to 50 million.
5) Plus many more expenditures too numerous to list.
From my calculations, this will add more than $125 million to our debt.
In total, that means Yukoners will have a debt of more than $300 million.
If I am wrong with my rough calculations, I would like Pasloski to show Yukoners the books and prove my figures are wrong. Never in the history of party politics in the Yukon has a government gone into debt.
Who is going to pay down this debt?
After nine years of Yukon Party government, very little has been done on our alcohol and drug problems. As well, very little money has been spent on affordable housing for those in greatest need - even though Dennis Fentie, when he was premier, was given $18 million by Ottawa specifically for low-cost housing. Instead, Fentie and his colleagues and backroom people put the money in the surplus account.
There may be a new group of potential wannabe Yukon Party MLAs who want to be part of the third mandate of this party, and yet we have seen no change in the backroom people.
You still have Craig Tuton as one of the key Yukon Party backroom boys. So, really, the Yukon Party may have many new faces who want to be MLAs, but the backroom people have not changed and that is why we are seeing a repeat of public announcements for major projects.
It is the same backroom people who have advised the Yukon Party MLAs that it is not a problem that the Yukon may now have debt of more than $300 million.
As I mentioned earlier, we need some honest answers about our debt and how we are going to pay this debt off.
I challenge Pasloski to come clean on the status of the Yukon financial picture. Yukoners do not need another five years of backroom deals, excessive spending, and lack of financial accountability.
Yukoners want to know what they are responsible for and what future programs are going to be cut to pay off our massive debt.
I encourage all Yukon voters, when Yukon Party candidates, come to your door to ask them the following questions:
• Do we have a $200-300 million debt?
• How is the government going to pay off this debt?
• What programs are going to be cut? Are wages going to be cut?
Finally, Yukoners want to see the actual books to see what our financial situation is.