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

Just Posted

City of Whitehorse tells taxi passengers who feel unsafe to not travel alone

Suggestion criticized by advocates for placing burden of safety on passengers, not taxi companies

Whitehorse’s new emergency room slated to open in early January

40,000-square-foot building will be more efficient, officials say

Judge finds Whitehorse man not guilty of raping teen in 2015 after second trial

Judge Raymond Wyant found Jackie James Kodwat not guilty of sexual assault.

Whitehorse’s sidewalks are a deathtrap

In the interest of safety and simplicity, the city should just plow the sidewalks

Police, coroner investigating suspicious death in Pelly Crossing

Investigators have ordered an autopsy, which will take place in Vancouver Dec. 18

Two Yukon projects shortlisted for the Arctic Inspiration Prize

Projects from Whitehorse, Carcross up for cash

Lower Post, B.C., man suing Yukon RCMP over assault allegation

Suit alleges man ended up with ‘ended up with bruising on his arms, biceps and chest’

Yukon needs a better plan for long-term care

The government can find solutions if it has the will. Does it have the will?

Hard travel over the Yukon’s winter trails

The overland trip to Dawson City today is a cakewalk compared to a century ago

Globalization infiltrates the Yukon’s recycling bins

You’re going to have to do a better job sorting your junk or else China won’t take it

Driving during the holidays

It’s hectic on the roads at Christmastime

Whitehorse council chambers needs new audio-visual equipment

‘More than 10 people’ watch city’s televised meetings

Most Read