The Yukon government has issued a special warrant that authorizes the government to spend up to an additional $15.3 million for the 2022-23 fiscal year, according to a Sept. 21 press release.
Per the release, that’s the year in which retroactive payments were earned by Yukon Employees’ Union members and the whole amount authorized relates to these payments.
The special warrant is intended to ensure government programs and functions can continue while supplementary budgets for the fiscal year are debated during the fall sitting of the Yukon Legislative Assembly, which reconvenes on Oct. 4.
“This special warrant helps to ensure that the government is able to meet its financial commitments outlined as part of the most recent collective agreement with the Yukon Employees’ Union,” Finance Minister Sandy Silver said in the release.
“This agreement recognizes the value of our employees and allows them to continue to provide the services Yukoners expect from their government. It also ensures that employees can receive the retroactive pay they are entitled to.”
According to public sector accounting standards, the release notes that “any payments occurring — or wages earned — in a specific fiscal year must also be recognized in that year if it remains open.”
The special warrant has been issued as an order in council under the Financial Administration Act. It is meant to ensure six departments — the departments of Justice, Health and Social Services, Environment and Highways and Public Works, as well as the Executive Council Office and the Public Service Commission — have spending authority to operate.
The release notes that special warrants are usually used when there is an urgent, essential need for money.
In a Sept. 21 email statement, the Yukon Party said it remains concerned about the Yukon government’s fiscal position, pointing to increased spending particularly since the signing of the Liberal-NDP confidence and supply deal.
“The Liberals’ continued use of special warrants appears hypocritical given the strong opposition to their use that Finance Minister Sandy Silver took during his time in opposition,” reads the party’s statement, which cites a News article from March 2017.
Back when the Yukon Party government issued a $235-million special warrant, Silver said it showed “a lack of respect” for the legislative assembly.
“That’s not democracy, in my opinion,” he said.
By phone on Sept. 21, Yukon NDP Leader Kate White said it’s not necessarily unusual, but the timing this far in advance of the legislative sitting is striking.
— With files from Ashley Joannou
Contact Dana Hatherly at email@example.com