Premier Darrell Pasloski has committed to spend $1 million on housing for women fleeing violence.
These funds, announced Wednesday, come courtesy of the federal Northern Housing Trust. The territory has sat on $17.5 million of this money for several years, while the Yukon’s shortage of housing has become all the more dire.
The $1 million will help build second-stage housing to offer secure and affordable apartments to women fleeing violence and single moms for periods of up to 18 months. It will be run by Kaushee’s place, which already offers five such units.
Demand is so high, women and children frequently double-up in the spaces available, said Kaushee’s executive director Barbara McInerney.
“Some went back to abuse because of a lack of viable options,” she said.
The non-profit had designs drawn up for a new, 10-unit apartment building one decade ago. It’s only now received government support.
And, even now, many details remain unclear, such as how many units would be built, when they would be ready and how much they would cost.
Next step will be to find land to build on, said McInerney.
“Without having money to buy a specific piece of land, you can’t really design a budget that’s site-specific.”
Kaushee’s earlier plans were priced at $3.2 million several years ago.
She hails the money as “the first solid gesture of commitment from the government.”
The money for Kaushee’s Place is just one of six spending announcements, worth a total of $7 million, made by Pasloski. Other spending plans include:
* Support for clinical trials of a controversial treatment for multiple sclerosis, in partnership with the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
* The opening of six new beds at Whitehorse General Hospital.
* Construction of an outdoor rink in Ross River, as a temporary fix, following the burning of the community’s indoor rink.
* The purchase of new mine safety equipment.
The extra spending would usually be authorized during the autumn sitting of the legislature. But, with a territorial election to be triggered by October, that session is expected to be held later than usual, so Pasloski approved the spending through a special warrant.
The warrant also includes $39 million to renew previous spending commitments.
The territory is now projecting a surplus of $29.5 million this year. That leaves net financial resources, which Pasloski calls “a savings account,” of $44 million.
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