Legislative assembly’s spring sitting starts tomorrow

Yukon MLAs are set to be back in the legislative assembly tomorrow. Aside from a one-day sitting in January, this spring sitting will be a first for Premier Sandy Silver’s Liberals.

Yukon MLAs are set to be back in the legislative assembly tomorrow.

Aside from a one-day sitting in January, this spring sitting will be a first for Premier Sandy Silver’s Liberals. With the exception of the premier, everyone in the government caucus is new to territorial politics.

None of the bills the government plans to table this sitting will come as a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention since the Liberals won a majority in November.

On April 24, the government will table a bill to make National Aboriginal Day — June 21 — a statutory holiday, said Liberal House leader Tracy-Anne McPhee.

On April 25, a single bill will be tabled to make changes to the Yukon’s Vital Statistics Act and Human Rights Act. It would remove the requirement for sex reassignment surgery before someone can change their gender on their birth certificate and explicitly ban discrimination based on someone’s gender identity.

On April 26 the government will introduce a bill to make room for the federal government to appoint a third Yukon Supreme Court judge.

In all likelihood most of the sitting will be spent debating the 2017-18 budget, which is slated to be unveiled April 27.

“It’s a large budget, it’s for spending for every department in the territory, and we expect it will take the majority of the time,” McPhee said.

The premier has promised a more detailed look at the territory’s books than what has been available before.

Yukon Party interim leader Stacey Hassard said topics like the new education curriculum and the need for more money for medical travel will also likely come up in the legislature.

His party is going to push this sitting for more information on how a federal carbon tax will be implemented in the Yukon, he said.

Opposition to a carbon tax was a frequent talking point from the Yukon Party during the election campaign.

Silver has promised revenue from the carbon tax, coming in 2018, will be returned to Yukoners, even though it will be administered by the federal government.

Hassard said there needs to be more information about what that will look like.

“It was the first thing that the premier did as premier, he signed on to the agreement with the federal government, and we’ve seen no explanation, no understanding of how it’s going to work.”

Meanwhile, NDP Leader Liz Hanson said she hopes the current government will pay attention to issues like affordable housing, income inequality and environmental sustainability.

She said the long stretch of time between the election and the first sitting has likely heightened people’s expectations of the new government this spring.

“It’s been a much steeper learning curve for this group of people and if it’s taken them time to get that understanding than hopefully it’s worthwhile.”

There’s no word yet on how long the sitting will last. All government bills have to be introduced and given first reading by April 27. After that the house leaders for all three parties will meet and decide on the sitting’s duration.

The Yukon Party has said publicly that it wants a 40-day sitting whereas McPhee said she’s expecting something “somewhere around the 30-day mark.”

Yukon MLAs sit for a total of 60 days a year and a 30-day sitting now allows for another 30 days in the fall, she said.

“We wouldn’t want it to be considerably shorter in the fall when there will likely be more lengthier pieces of legislation.”

If the sides can’t come to an agreement the sitting will be 30 days. That means it will likely end on June 13.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

Jodie Gibson has been named the 2020 Prospector of the Year by the Yukon Prospectors Association. (Submitted)
Jodie Gibson named 2020 Prospector of the Year

Annual award handed out by the Yukon Prospector’s Association

A number 55 is lit in honour of Travis Adams, who died earlier this year, at the Winter Wonderland Walk at Meadow Lakes Golf Club in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
A new take on holiday traditions

Winter Wonderland Walk, virtual Stories with Santa all part of 2020 festive events in Whitehorse

Eric Schroff, executive director with the Yukon Fish and Game Association, poses for a portrait on Feb. 20. Schroff says he is puzzled as to why the Yukon government is cutting back on funding for the association. (Jackie Hong/Yukon News file)
YG cuts Yukon Fish and Game Association funding, tried to vet outgoing communications

Yukon Fish and Game Association says 25 per cent government funding cut will impact operations

asdf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Nov. 27, 2020

Premier Sandy Silver during a live update on the COVID-19 situation at a press conference in Whitehorse on March 27. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Total Yukon COVID case count increased to 42 cases

Premier urges patience after national meeting on vaccine roll-out

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

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

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Keith Lay speaks at a city council meeting on Dec. 4, 2017. Lay provided the lone submission to council on the city’s proposed $33 million capital spending plan for 2021 on Nov. 23, taking issue with a number of projects outlined. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Resident raises issues with city’s capital budget

Council to vote on budget in December

Most Read