Premier boasts a ballooning budget

Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski announced another record budget last week. The government plans to spend $1.367 billion over the 2015-2016 fiscal year. The premier wore new construction boots for the announcement.

Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski announced another record budget last week. The government plans to spend $1.367 billion over the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

The premier wore new construction boots for the announcement, a tribute to the $312 million in capital expenses planned for this year.

“This budget is all about putting Yukoners to work,” he said on Thursday at the opening of the spring legislative sitting.

Those capital expenses include $26 million towards a 150-bed continuing care facility in Whistle Bend, $26 million for the Whitehorse hospital expansion and $16 million for the replacement of the Sarah Steele alcohol and drug services building.

Other major expenses are $10 million for the new F.H. Collins and upgrades to the old school’s trades wing, $9 million towards a new Salvation Army shelter, $8 million for the McDonald Lodge replacement and contributions to dozens of smaller projects.

Pasloski also announced changes to the Income Tax Act that will result in $5.5 million in lowered taxes or increased benefits for Yukoners.

Opposition members, however, say that the government’s spending spree is shortsighted and politically motivated.

“Yukoners know the pitfalls of budgeting for election photo ops – projects that don’t receive proper scrutiny, aren’t well-planned, overwhelm the capacity of local contractors to bid on the jobs and result in massive cost overruns and design errors,” said Opposition NDP Leader Liz Hanson during question period.

“The auditor general has repeatedly taken the Yukon Party government to task on how it spends Yukoners’ money. Does the premier think he can simply spend his way out of this economic downturn with Yukoners’ own money?”

Pasloski responded that his government’s good planning has allowed for this boon of a budget.

“Governments right across this country are cutting jobs and raising taxes,” he said. “We’re doing exactly the opposite. We’re creating jobs and we’re cutting taxes – putting more money into Yukoners’ pockets.”

NDP MLA Kate White asked about the government’s intentions to push for a natural gas industry in the territory despite public and First Nation opposition to fracking.

“We are not going to rush into this,” responded Resources Minister Scott Kent. “We are not going to panic. We are not going to spread false information. We are not going to make an ill-informed decision. Members know there is currently no activity of this type taking place in the Yukon, nor are there any applications in the queue for this type of activity to take place.”

He promised to table a formal response this spring to the report of the select committee on the risks and benefits of fracking.

NDP MLA Jim Tredger asked the government to answer for its handling of the Wolverine mine closure.

“With modern mining and regulatory regimes, the Faros were supposed to be a thing of the past, yet here we are with Wolverine, a mine that failed to pay its securities, a mine that ignored its obligations in the mine closure plan, and a government that failed its responsibilities,” he said.

“The result for the mining industry: a black eye affecting its image. Those benefits promised for Yukon businesses? That came in the form of $4.3 million in unpaid bills.”

The mining industry is “the cornerstone of our economy,” responded Kent, “and we recognize the impacts that this closure is having on Yukoners, both those who worked at the mine as well as the businesses that supplied the mine.”

He said Yukon government officials have been working with Yukon Zinc to ensure the safety of the environment as well as people working and living in the area.

In the first of what will surely be many admonishments directed at MLAs this sitting, Speaker David Laxton cautioned Hanson against using inflammatory language.

Hanson had accused the premier of a disrespectful attitude towards First Nations, as evidenced by his support of proposed federal amendments to Yukon’s environmental assessment regime.

Laxton disagreed that Hanson had contravened the assembly’s standing orders, but warned the members to watch their tongues.

“Inflammatory language will cause problems and they will come back to haunt you,” he said.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at jronson@yukon-news.com

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

Just Posted

Kwanlin Dün First Nation chief Doris Bill holds up a signed copy of the KDFN <em>Lands Act</em> agreement during an announcement at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre in Whitehorse on Oct. 20. Under the new act, called Nan kay sháwthän Däk’anúta ch’e (We all look after our land) in Southern Tutchone, KDFN will be able to allot citizens land to build their own houses on, for example, or to use for traditional activities. The First Nation will also be able to enforce laws around things like land access and littering. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s Lands Act comes into force

The act gives the First Nation the authority to manage, protect and enforce laws on its settlement lands

Two doctors in Watson Lake say they are at risk of losing their housing due to a Yukon Housing Corporation policy that only allows one pet per family. (Wikimedia Commons)
Healthcare workers in Watson Lake say housing pet policy could force them to leave

The Yukon Housing Corporation has threatened evictions for having more than one pet

The Many Rivers Counselling and Support Services building in Whitehorse on March 28, 2019. Three people who sat on Many Rivers’ board immediately before it closed for good say they were relieved to hear that the Yukon RCMP has undertaken a forensic audit into the now-defunct NGO’s financial affairs. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Former Many Rivers board members relieved to hear about forensic audit, wonder what took so long

Three people who sat on Many Rivers’ board immediately before it closed… Continue reading

Whitehorse General Hospital in Whitehorse on Feb. 14, 2019. The Yukon Employees’ Union and Yukon Hospital Corporation are at odds over whether there’s a critical staffing shortage at the territory’s hospitals. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
YEU, Yukon Hospital Corp. at odds over whether hospitals are understaffed

YEU says four nurses quit within 12 hours last week, a claim the YHC says is “inaccurate”

Two former Whitehorse Correctional Centre inmates, Ray Hartling and Mark Lange, have filed a class action against the jail, corrections officials and Yukon government on behalf of everyone who’s been placed in two restrictive units over the past six years. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Class action filed against Whitehorse Correctional Centre over use of segregation

Two former Whitehorse Correctional Centre inmates have filed a class action against… Continue reading

Smartphone showing various applications to social media services and Google. (Pixabay photo)
National media calling for level playing field with Google, Facebook

In Canada, Google and Facebook control 80 per cent of all online advertising revenues

Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee, right, before question period at the Yukon legislative assembly in Whitehorse on March 7, 2019. The Yukon government announced Oct. 19 it has increased the honoraria rates for school council members. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Honoraria increased for school council members

Members of school councils throughout the territory could soon receive an increased… Continue reading

Triple J’s Canna Space in Whitehorse on April 17, 2019, opens their first container of product. Two years after Canada legalized the sale of cannabis, Yukon leads the country in per capita legal sales. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon leads Canadian cannabis sales two years after legalization

Private retailers still asking for changes that would allow online sales

A sign greets guests near the entrance of the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse on June 11. The city announced Oct. 16 it was moving into the next part of its phased reopening plan with spectator seating areas open at a reduced capacity to allow for physical distancing. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
CGC reopening continues

Limited spectator seating now available

During Whitehorse city council’s Oct. 19 meeting, planning manager Mélodie Simard brought forward a recommendation that a proposed Official Community Plan amendment move forward that would designate a 56.3 hectare piece of land in Whistle Bend, currently designated as green space, as urban residential use. (Courtesy City of Whitehorse)
More development in Whistle Bend contemplated

OCP change would be the first of several steps to develop future area

asdf
EDITORIAL: Don’t let the City of Whitehorse distract you

A little over two weeks after Whitehorse city council voted to give… Continue reading

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

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Northwestel has released the proposed prices for its unlimited plans. Unlimited internet in Whitehorse and Carcross could cost users between $160.95 and $249.95 per month depending on their choice of package. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet options outlined

Will require CRTC approval before Northwestel makes them available

Most Read