Federal Liberal candidate Larry Bagnell has promised to reopen the Canada Revenue Agency office in Whitehorse if his party is elected on Oct. 19.
The office was closed in 2012, along with many other offices across the country, as part of a round of federal budget cuts. At the time, the agency lost 638 jobs.
Bagnell said he lobbied his party leadership for the Whitehorse office to be reinstated, but he doesn’t know if any other offices across Canada will be reopened at the same time.
“This is something that seemed to universally affect almost everyone,” he said. “It affected businesses, it affected individuals, it affected seniors. It has a huge impact on Yukoners from all walks of life.”
He referred to a petition signed by over 700 people shortly after the announcement was made in 2012 that the office would close. The petition was created by Carol Church, owner of Whitehorse’s H&R Block. At the time, she argued that the closure of the Whitehorse office would cost her business thousands of dollars in lost time.
But Conservative incumbent Ryan Leef said Yukoners have grown accustomed to the Revenue Agency office being closed. He said his office filled the gap immediately after the closure, and helped people get computer access and print and mail forms. But he said that’s no longer necessary.
“We were doing hundreds in the first year. We’re now down to zero, because people adjust. They get used to the system that’s in place, and they’ve adjusted to it.”
Bagnell maintained that he’s hearing people say they want the office back, and that this is one of the most important campaign announcements for the Yukon. He said that national campaigns “very seldom” see commitments that are specific to certain regions – possibly a dig at Leef, who has maintained that the Conservatives are the only party that has made promises directly to the Yukon.
So far, the Conservative Party has promised to establish a Canadian Armed Forces reserve unit and a new cadet facility in the Yukon. It has also promised to expand the mineral exploration tax credit from 15 to 25 per cent for northern and remote communities.
Last week, the Liberal Party pledged to increase the Northern Residents Deduction to a maximum of $22 a day from $16.50. And the NDP has released a plan for Canada’s North that includes a commitment of $200 million for northern infrastructure and $100 million for renewable energy development in northern and remote communities.
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