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Premier Pillai wants Ontario money to fuel Yukon’s housing development

Yukon and Ontario premiers have signed memorandum of understanding
Premier Ranj Pillai speaks to reporters in the Yukon government cabinet office on March 30. Pillai has signed a memorandum of understanding focused on housing and investment with Ontario Premier Doug Ford. (Dana Hatherly/Yukon News)

Premier Ranj Pillai is hoping investment dollars from Ontario will fuel housing development in the territory.

That’s the intent of a memorandum of understanding finalized May 2 between Pillai and Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

Pillai is the Economic Development minister and responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation. He met with Ford during a two-day trip to Toronto to promote investment opportunities in the Yukon.

At a virtual press conference on May 2, Pillai said the agreement between the southern province and the northern territory will lead to more apartments — both “affordable” and “market” rentals — being built in the Yukon.

“We have great builders. We have good developers in the Yukon, but we want to see them being able to partner with individuals who want to invest in the long term,” he said.

“We’re looking at more financial investment from Ontario. That’s the idea. It’s about making sure that money is available in the Yukon for Yukon builders and developers who want to build housing options.”

Pillai said the territory is not seeing that kind of money right now. Meanwhile, some people are struggling to find a place to live as the population rises. According to the Yukon Bureau of Statistics, the vacancy rate in Whitehorse has gone from 0.8 per cent in April 2022 to 1.3 per cent in October 2022, which works out to 1.1 per cent on average last year.

“Investors in the Yukon have tended to build things and sell them right away,” Pillai said.

That’s why he is trying to bring in “sophisticated investors” from Ontario to partner with builders in the territory.

“That’s our first step,” he said.

“The agreement is really foundational in helping us have government-to-government conversations on a number of different areas from labour mobility to support on health care.”

While not legally binding, the two-year agreement outlines the parties’ intention to work together.

“The agreement between premiers will help exchange best practices for creating investment-ready housing development and encourage trade and commerce in the housing sector between the Yukon and Ontario,” reads a May 2 release.

“The knowledge, skills and connections obtained through this partnership are among the several approaches taken to enhance the market housing inventory in the Yukon.”

Contact Dana Hatherly at

Dana Hatherly

About the Author: Dana Hatherly

I’m the legislative reporter for the Yukon News.
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