Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski praises both national and territorial climate change initiatives, but he stops short of saying whether the Yukon government will meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals.
Pasloski and the rest of the country’s premiers were in St. John’s last week for their annual meeting.
One of the last things to come out was the Canadian Energy Strategy. Pasloski called the document quite a feat.
The document was more than three years in the making but has already faced criticism for not saying anything very substantial. Instead, it makes references to things like collaborative approaches, promoting energy efficiency and transitioning to a “lower carbon economy.”
The Yukon’s climate change action plan has more measurable goals.
The government set a target for emissions reductions related to its own internal operations.
The goal is to reduce emissions by 20 per cent in 2015 compared to 2010 levels.
Yukon government operations accounted for about 10 per cent of the territory’s greenhouse gas output in 2012.
It takes years to actually get the data to tell us how things are going. The 2013 numbers would usually be public by now but haven’t been released yet by the group that does the counting.
In two years, the Yukon government managed to reduce the emissions of its internal operations by just two per cent, leaving an 18 per cent reduction to achieve by the end of this year.
Last week, Environment Minister Wade Istchenko said six years into the plan, 31 of the 33 actions are either complete or are on track and continuing.
But even with all those things completed, Pasloski was non-committal when asked if the government would reach its greenhouse gas reduction goals.
“That is the goal, but I won’t comment because I need a little bit more information,” he said.
Instead Pasloski pointed to initiatives he says will make a difference.
The government is about to start an estimated $5 million project to improve the shell – windows, doors, wrap and insulation – of the 39-year-old main administration building.
The change is expected to cut the fuel oil used in the building by about half, from about 300,000 litres a year to about 150,000 litres a year, said Scott Milton, director of realty and capital asset planning.
Along with talking about how to keep the country green, last week the premiers agreed to let the federal government join the Pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance.
That’s the group that allows the provinces and territories to bulk-buy prescriptions at a reduced rate.
Pasloski, who co-chaired the working group, said inviting the feds means having even more buying power.
“For this year, we’re looking at just under half a billion dollars in savings on pharmaceuticals as a result of the negotiations that we’ve done and adding Canada and the volume of drugs that they purchase through their programs makes our buying power even better.”
The premiers also released a report concerned about the over-representation of First Nation children in child welfare systems across Canada.
Pasloski said this is an area where the Yukon can be an example for other jurisdictions.
Since the Child and Family Services Act was created in 2010 First Nations here are involved in the development of programs and policy decisions, he said.
An agreement has also been signed with the Kwanlin Dun First Nation.
“We’ve seen actually a reducing in children in care by about 30 per cent and that is absolutely opposite of what we’re hearing in most of the country,” Pasloski said.
The Yukon will host next year’s premiers meeting. It is the first time the meeting has been held in one of the territories.
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