Federal budget keeps funds flowing to Yukon

The Yukon is getting another bump in its annual funding from Ottawa. The territory's federal transfer payment this year will be $898 million, up from $860 million last year.

The Yukon is getting another bump in its annual funding from Ottawa.

The territory’s federal transfer payment this year will be $898 million, up from $860 million last year.

The news comes as part of the Conservative government’s budget for 2014, announced by federal finance minister Jim Flaherty on Tuesday.

Considered widely as a “stay-the-course” budget, there were few surprises in the 427-page document.

One big focus is on helping unemployed youth and aboriginal Canadians find work by providing training in areas that need more workers.

The government will provide a number of incentives, among them interest-free loans to apprentices in Red Seal trades and other key areas.

“I think it’s a solid budget right across the board, right across the nation,” said Yukon’s MP Ryan Leef.

“You can see that we’re targeting the labour market shortages. It means Canadian people for Canadian jobs and for us, Yukon people for Yukon jobs, coming from recognizing where our labour market shortages are and addressing those,” Leef said.

The territory will see at least one fund reduction, however. The federal government will spend $70 million over the next three years to improve healthcare in the Yukon and reduce the number of medical trips Outside, down from $30 million a year. The program was slated to expire this year, and the three-year extension will likely be the last one.

The North will see $305 million to expand broadband Internet access in remote communities, and $40 million over two years added to the Strategic Investment in Northern Economic Development, or SINED, program.

“That funding was set to expire, but will now continue,” Leef said. “It was through that funding program that allowed the Yukon government to move into the Frankfurt tourism market and ultimately reach that agreement with Condor and Air North,” which allows German visitors to access the Yukon through several one-stop flights via Calgary and Vancouver.

Parks Canada will get nearly $400 million to put towards upgrading roads, bridges and infrastructure in Canada’s national parks.

That may seem surprising considering the deep cuts to the Parks’ budget in 2012. Those cuts resulted in the loss of Parks staff jobs at the S.S. Klondike and Dredge No. 4 National Historic Sites. Staff curators were also lost at the Dawson City heritage collection, with curation services moved to Ottawa.

Many critics decried the cuts, saying they would make it difficult to for Parks to carry out its mandate of protecting Canada’s natural and historic heritage.

“This is all part of a re-tooling of Parks Canada, a strategic approach to make sure that the Parks Canada services are the best in the world, that they’re efficient and providing client service delivery the way they’re supposed to,” Leef said.

The government wants to see Parks Canada run more like a business instead of an arm of the bureaucracy, and to do that, it needs to increase its tourist draw and resulting revenues, Leef said.

“People might say we should be creating jobs, not roads. But if the roads deteriorate, and the people aren’t coming, then those jobs will go, too,” Leef said.

The Nutrition North program is getting more funding as well, but the government is being tight-lipped about exactly how much money it’s getting.

First announced as a replacement to the Food Mail in 2011, that program has come under fire for actually increasing the price of food in the community, not decreasing it. Instead of subsidizing the cost of shipping food to the fly-in community, the government instead subsidizes the town’s retailer instead. But that has only increased food costs in the community, according to Vuntut Gwichin MLA Darius Elias.

“This is the most difficult, frustrating file I’ve worked on since I’ve been MLA for the Vuntut Gwitchin riding. It’s just unbelievable,” Elias told the News in April.

It costs $26.16 per kilogram for red seedless grapes in Old Crow, Elias told the legislature during the spring sitting.

But Leef maintains that, across the North, communities can’t wait to sign up to the program.

“The reason that there’s a top-up is because it’s working. It’s a subsidy-based program. Because so many communities were up-taking the program, it drained the subsidy, it drained the pot,” Leef said.

For Old Crow in particular, a more “creative” solution may need to be found, Leef said.

“There have been some really positive discussions, and some appetite to look at the options that we are providing. Old Crow juts needs to be looked at differently than other Arctic communities because it is different. There is no road access, no sea-lift options, so we can’t ship in bulk,” he said.

Other northern highlights from the budget include spending $22.1 million towards the Aboriginal Justice Strategy, which seeks to help reduce the number of indigenous Canadians behind bars for non-violent crime and lesser offences by supporting community-based justice programs. And $25 million over five years will go towards reducing violence against aboriginal women and girls. The budget also highlighted the Conservatives’ long-awaited Victims’ Bill of Rights, and includes $8.1 million to create a DNA database for missing persons.

Ten million will go towards improving snowmobile trails across the country.

Contact Jesse Winter at

jessew@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks to media at a press conference about COVID-19 in Whitehorse on March 30. The Yukon government announced three new cases of COVID-19 in Watson Lake on Oct. 23. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three new COVID-19 cases identified in Watson Lake

The Yukon government has identified three locations in town where public exposure may have occurred

Indigenous lobster boats head from the harbour in Saulnierville, N.S. on Oct. 21. Elected officials in the Yukon, including all 19 members of the legislature, are backing the right of Mi’kmaq fishers on the East Coast to launch a moderate livelihood fishery. (Andrew Vaughan/CP)
Yukon legislature passes motion to support Mi’kmaw fishery

“It’s not easy, but it’s also necessary for us to have these very difficult conversations”

A pedestrian passes by an offsales sandwich board along Fourth Avenue in Whitehorse on Oct. 22. NDP MLA Liz Hanson raised concerns Oct. 21 in the legislature about increased hospitalizations due to alcohol consumption that correlate with an extension in the hours alcohol can be sold in the territory. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Alcohol-related hospitalizations rise after off-sales hours extended

Reduced hours for off-sale liquor establishments likely part of Liquor Act spring reforms

Tourism and Culture Minister Jeanie McLean (formerly Dendys) speaks during legislative assembly in Whitehorse on Nov. 27, 2017. The Yukon government has announced $2.8 million in tourism relief funding aimed at businesses in the accommodation sector that have already maxed out existing funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Tourism relief funding offers $2.8 million to hotels and overnight accommodations

$15 million in relief funding is planned for the tourism sector over the next three years

The Whitehorse sewage lagoons photographed in 2011. With new regulations for wastewater anticipated to be introduced by the federal government within the next decade, the City of Whitehorse may soon be doing some prep work by looking at exactly what type of pollutants are making their way into the city’s wastewater. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Pondering pollutants

City could spend $70,000 looking at what contaminents are in waste water

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over the Takhini elk herd be struck by the court. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Yukon government asks for Takhini elk lawsuit to be struck

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over… Continue reading

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging the reduction of its caribou quota to zero. (Yukon News file)
YG replies to outfitter’s legal challenge over caribou quota

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging… Continue reading

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this year, saying that with COVID-19, it’s “more important than ever.” (Black Press file)
Get flu vaccine, Yukon government urges

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this… Continue reading

Benjamin Munn, 12, watches the HPV vaccine in 2013. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available to all Yukoners up to, and including, age 26. Currently the program is only available to girls ages nine to 18 and boys ages nine to 14. (Dan Bates/Black Press file)
HPV vaccine will be available to Yukoners up to, including, age 26

Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

asdf
COMMENTARY: Me and systemic racism

The view from a place of privilege

asdf
Today’s mailbox: Electricity and air travel

Letters to the editor published Oct. 23, 2020

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Irony versus Climate

Lately it seems like Irony has taken over as Editor-in-Chief at media… Continue reading

Most Read