Money well spent?

By John Thompson News Reporter It's that time of year. The sun has returned, birds are trilling and cabinet ministers, emerged from hibernation, are stumbling over one another to announce their plans to shower Yukon communities with money. The legislature

It’s that time of year.

The sun has returned, birds are trilling and cabinet ministers, emerged from hibernation, are stumbling over one another to announce their plans to shower Yukon communities with money.

The legislature reconvenes Thursday, and soon afterwards the 2009 budget will be announced.

It will be the biggest ever, Premier Dennis Fentie has promised. That means it’ll top the $978 million spent last year.

And while the budget has yet to be read, let alone approved, there’s been no shortage of budget spoilers released.

In the past week, no fewer than 11 spending announcements have come from Fentie’s office.

Dawson City’s Front Street will be paved for $3.5 million. Another $4 million will go to making the community’s recreation centre earthquake-safe.

The long-awaited replacement of FH Collins Secondary School in Whitehorse will move ahead, with $400,000 set aside for drawing up designs.

Nearly $25 million in roadwork has already been announced, with $10.5 million slated for ongoing repairs to the Robert Campbell Highway and $14.25 million to replace Slims Bridge as part of the Shakwak Funding Agreement with the US.

And $2.6 million is slated for Yukon tie-ins for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games.

There’s also a bundle of smaller spending, with $263,000 set aside for 19 community development projects, such as repairs and upgrades to the Carcross curling club building, the Faro swimming pool and Haines Junction’s convention centre.

But not all this spending is new. Plans to fix the Robert Campbell Highway had been previously announced, said Liberal Leader Arthur Mitchell.

In October of 2007, the government announced it would spend $31 million over three years to repair the road.

It’s impossible to offer a proper critique of this spending before detailed information has been put before the house, added Mitchell.

The blizzard of spending announcements, by way of news releases, is “a somewhat disconcerting way to receive budget information and it’s a bit of a disturbing trend,” he said.

“Traditionally, budgets were tabled and you didn’t have much information until they were. What we’d like to think, after being elected to the assembly, is that we’d get a first crack at it.

“Now it comes out in dribs ‘n drabs, in announcements with the disclaimer: subject to legislative approval.”

There are no surprises in the spending announcements so far, said NDP Leader Todd Hardy.

There isn’t much vision, either, he said.

Roadwork will keep some tradesmen employed. But it won’t address any of the bigger problems Yukon faces.

Hardy wants to see the government invest in green technology and housing.

He also wants to ensure women cash in on the spending splurge. Roadwork is largely done by men.

More money should be sunk into health and administrative jobs, which are dominated by women, he said.

More trades training should also be targeted towards women, he added.

“What we need now is smart spending, not foolish spending,” said Hardy.

The government seems more focused on publicity than in coming up with solutions to the economic downturn, said Mitchell.

There were 500 fewer people working in the Yukon in February compared to one year earlier, according to a Statistics Canada report released on Friday.

“I want to see a little less time spent promoting and a little more time governing,” he said.

“People have been hurt.”

Contact John Thompson at

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

Just Posted

Fines for contravening the fire ban start at $1,150 and could go as high as $100,000. File photo
Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. (Black Press file)
Yukon campgrounds to open early

Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. The early opening… Continue reading

Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce executive director Susan Guatto and program manager Andrei Samson outside the chamber office in downtown Whitehorse Feb. 23. (Stephanie Waddell, Yukon News)
When business models shift

Whitehorse chamber offers digital marketing workshop

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Team Yukon skip Laura Eby, left, directs her team as Team Northern Ontario skip Krysta Burns looks on at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary on Feb. 22. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Team Yukon reports positive experience at Scotties

Team Yukon played their final game at the national championship in Calgary on Thursday afternoon

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read