Crystal Schick/Yukon News Yukon Premier Sandy Silver speaks about the cancellation of the 2020 Arctic Winter Games due to COVID-19 precautions during legislative assembly in Whitehorse on March 9.

The Yukon is prepared for coronavirus, Silver says

The Liberals quashed a motion to establish a select committee into potential effects on the economy

The Yukon Liberals voted down a motion seeking to establish a select committee that would have looked into the effects of the coronavirus on the Yukon’s economy.

Premier Sandy Silver told reporters that his government is already doing enough to deal with the issue.

“Everything being asked by the opposition we believe we have under control,” he said.

The motion, tabled by Stacey Hassard, interim leader of the Yukon Party on March 9, called for the committee to be comprised of an MLA from each party who would work to file a report halfway through the spring sitting, quantifying impacts to the economy. Concerns have been swirling since the Arctic Winter Games were cancelled earlier this month after two years of preparations.

“This is not just in reference to the decision to cancel the Arctic Winter Games, but also to the significant impact that COVID-19 has had and continues to have across the country,” Hassard said during general debate. “For starters, we know that business activity in some regions — particularly those hit hardest by the virus — has fallen sharply and global supply chains have been disrupted. This has lowered commodity prices and has already dragged down the Canadian dollar.”

Hassard went on to say that the Liberals’ budget doesn’t mention the virus, nor is any money earmarked for precautionary measures.

“This, of course, is why we brought forward this motion today. We believe that there is a way that we can all work together to find solutions for a potential economic downturn,” he said.

Silver has routinely said risk of the virus in the Yukon remains low. There are no confirmed cases, and no international flights have arrived at the Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport, said Silver, noting, however, that no tests are occurring there. People with influenza symptoms are also being screened for the virus, he said.

Dr. Catherine Elliot, the acting chief medical officer of health, wasn’t immediately available for comment.

On March 9, the Department of Education cancelled all international school trips, following Elliot’s advice. Domestic travel is unchanged.

“At this time, this cancellation does not include trips to Alaska,” a department statement says. “We are currently reviewing all school trips to Alaska with Dr. Elliott and will determine whether or not they will go ahead on a case-by-case basis. In the coming days, we will provide an update directly to those schools who have trips to Alaska planned.”

Silver, who’s meeting with federal counterparts in Ottawa this week, said Yukoners don’t need to worry about the virus immediately.

“Now, are we prepared for the situation in Canada? Yes, we are. Do we have confidence in the medical community to make sure that Yukoners are safe? We’re extremely confident in that. We really want to follow the lead of the chief medical officer and we don’t want people to panic either. Level heads should prevail here and we shouldn’t get into the practice of fear mongering.”

Yukon Party house leader Scott Kent said it’s too late, there’s already an international panic, adding that he’s “disappointed but not surprised” with the Liberals collective action to quash the motion.

“I think we put out an opportunity to again tear down those partisan walls and those blinders and work together on behalf of all Yukoners,” he said. “We think all members of the legislature have something to offer when it comes to the effects on the economy.”

Kent doubts the Liberals have a plan to combat the virus and that they’re taking the matter seriously enough.

“We’re gonna have to keep pressing them in the legislature rather than working together.”

On March 9, the premier urged Yukoners to stay home if they are sick.

John Streicker, minister of community services, said that those people would be still be paid, despite working from home.

NDP Leader Kate White said not all workers have the luxury of not showing up to work such as those in the hospitality sector.

“What a glorious thing to be allowed to work from home,” White said, “but how does he imagine that a cashier could work from home and still earn a paycheque? What about a person who works retail? How could they work from home and still earn that paycheque?”

On March 10, she called on the Liberals to adopt paid sick leave for all workers.

Streicker suggested this wouldn’t be immediately possible, as it would work require legislative changes.

Contact Julien Gignac at


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

Just Posted

Two people walk up the stairs past an advance polling sign at the Canda Games Centre on April 4. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
April 12 is polling day: Here’s how to vote

If in doubt, has an address-to-riding tool

Yukon Party leader Currie Dixon addressing media at a press conference on April 8. The territorial election is on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Getting to know Currie Dixon and the Yukon Party platform

A closer look at the party leader and promises on the campaign trail

Yukon NDP leader Kate White, surrounded by socially distanced candidates, announces her platform in Whitehorse on March 29. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Getting to know Kate White and the Yukon NDP Platform

A detailed look at the NDP platform and Kate White’s leadership campaign this election

Crystal Schick/Yukon News
Sandy Silver announces the territorial election in Whitehorse. Silver is seeking a second term as premier and third term as Klondike MLA. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Getting to know Sandy Silver and the Yukon Liberal platform

Yukon Liberal Leader Sandy Silver is vying for a second term as… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
This week at city hall

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its April 6 meeting.

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Yukon RCMP reported a child pornography-related arrest on April 1. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press file)
Whitehorse man arrested on child pornography charges

The 43-year-old was charged with possession of child pornography and making child pornography

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The postponed 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been rescheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
New dates set for Arctic Winter Games

Wood Buffalo, Alta. will host event Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023

Victoria Gold Corp. has contributed $1 million to the First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun after six months of production at the Eagle Gold Mine. (Submitted/Victoria Gold Corp.)
Victoria Gold contributes $1 million to First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun

Victoria Gold signed a Comprehensive Cooperation and Benefits Agreement in 2011

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speaks to media in Whitehorse on October 30, 2020. Hanley is now encouraging Yukon to continue following health regulations, noting it could still be some time before changes to restrictions are made. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
No active COVID cases in Yukon

Hanley highlights concerns over variants, encourages vaccinations

Most Read