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MLAs pass Yukon government’s 2nd supplementary budget ahead of deadline

Yukon Party critic pressed Liberal Finance minister for letting it “get down to the wire”
Finance Minister Sandy Silver takes questions from reporters on the supplementary budget in the Yukon government cabinet office on March 27 as the clock ticks down for his government to get it passed. It passed before the end of sitting day on March 28. (Dana Hatherly/Yukon News)

Following a vote in the Yukon Legislative Assembly, the Yukon government has been granted authority to spend an additional $143,000 on capital and $61 million on operations and maintenance as proposed in the second supplementary budget of 2023-24.

The Yukon NDP voted in favour of the supplementary budget with the governing Yukon Liberal Party MLAs to overcome the Official Opposition Yukon Party MLAs 10-8 before the end of the regularly scheduled daily session on March 28.

The Liberal government had until the end of the 2023-24 fiscal year on March 31, which fell on the long weekend, to pass the supplementary budget before coming in breach of the Financial Administration Act (FAA).

Citing a standing order on March 27, Yukon government house leader John Streicker put forward a motion in the legislative assembly that would empower the house to sit beyond 5:30 p.m., which is the regularly scheduled end of a sitting day, on March 28.

The reason: to complete committee of the whole debates and third reading of Bill 212, the proposed act in question, and get the commissioner to grant assent, pending the bill’s passing.

During question period on March 27, Finance critic Brad Cathers of the Yukon Party asked why the Finance minister let it “get down to the wire.”

“The Liberal government has already violated the Financial Administration Act once this budget year, and the only reason the Liberal government would take the extraordinary step of sitting late in the evening before a long weekend would be if they’re in danger of missing payroll and violating the Financial Administration Act,” he said.

The Yukon government’s very public missed deadline last fall for tabling its public accounts for the previous fiscal year was the other violation Cathers referred to.

Cathers told reporters that Liberal MLAs are mismanaging time in the house.

As far as government employees getting paid, Finance Minister Sandy Silver told reporters in the Yukon government cabinet office following question period that “departments have money” and “some small departments will have a harder time” if the supplementary budget didn’t pass.

“We don’t want to break the FAA,” he said. “We want to make sure that we’re spending inside of our authority, and this supplementary gives us the authority to spend.”

Silver blamed the Yukon Party for dragging on debate by asking questions about things like licenses that aren’t included in the appropriations before them.

He told reporters that minimal time has been spent discussing other items like the vape tax and health authority acts.

He said there has been ample time to debate the supplementary budget.

The minority Liberal government has been propped up by the Yukon NDP as the result of a confidence and supply agreement between the two caucuses.

Yukon NDP Leader Kate White has been in opposition since she was elected an MLA under the former Yukon Party government.

“They have both behaved poorly at different times,” she said. “But today, the stance taken by the Yukon Party about how this is about to happen, and they’re more willing to play politics with the idea that everything they’re asking right now is relevant.”

She had strong opinions about the Yukon Party’s posturing.

“When I was elected, less than 40 per cent of the budget ever saw the light of day because [the Yukon Party government] blocked all opportunities to have conversations about it. They took 20 minutes to respond to 30-second questions. And they used the guillotine for absolutely everything,” she said.

White explained the “guillotine clause” allowed all bills to be subject to an endpoint.

“No debate. It would just come to a vote,” she said.

White indicated there would be enough time to end debate on the supplementary budget on March 28.

Premier Ranj Pillai suggested the Thursday before the long weekend (for some) could feel like a particularly long one, depending on how things play out on the floor of the legislature.

“If we have to stay here until Friday morning, [then] we’ll stay here until Friday morning. Because that’s what Yukoners elected us for, every single one of us,” Pillai told the house.

Contact Dana Hatherly at

Dana Hatherly

About the Author: Dana Hatherly

I’m the legislative reporter for the Yukon News.
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