Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski and his cabinet ministers will be visiting several communities this winter to ask Yukoners about their budget priorities.
So far, the government has announced meetings in Carcross, Tagish, Old Crow, Teslin and Hootalinqua between Jan. 13 and Feb. 10.
Additional visits to other communities are to be announced in the coming weeks.
“We want to hear from as many people as possible regarding their thoughts on budget priorities as we prepare the spring budget,” Pasloski said in a news release.
The meetings come on the heels of a series of community visits Pasloski made to Dawson City, Haines Junction and Watson Lake in the fall.
But this time around, there’s one important difference – these meetings will be open to the public.
Last fall, the government was criticized for making the community meetings invitation-only. It claimed the closed set-up would encourage people who might have been intimidated by a public forum to speak freely.
But the others were quick to pounce on the decision. “Entering the 14th year of office, at least the Yukon Party has finally admitted that they are only listening to a select group of Yukoners behind closed doors,” said Liberal Leader Sandy Silver in the legislative assembly in October.
Now, it appears the government is taking a new approach. Private meetings with First Nation leaders may still take place, but the main meetings will be public.
Cabinet spokesperson Dan Macdonald said the coming meetings are a separate initiative from those in the fall – not a change made in response to the criticism.
“I think it’s not necessarily a change, but it’s a separate initiative that builds off the other one,” he said.
Macdonald said public meetings may be scheduled for Dawson, Haines Junction and Watson Lake, among other communities.
Dates, times and locations of the meetings can be found at www.gov.yk.ca/consultations.html