Toews doles out cash

Politics can get a little greasy sometimes -- it doesn't help when McDonald's is catering. The Yukon's political brass gathered at Mount McIntyre Friday morning to dine on Egg McMuffins and hear federal Treasury Board President...

Politics can get a little greasy sometimes—it doesn’t help when McDonald’s is catering.

The Yukon’s political brass gathered at Mount McIntyre Friday morning to dine on Egg McMuffins and hear federal Treasury Board President Vic Toews announce $346,000 in federal money for the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce.

The money comes from the Strategic Investments in Northern Economic Development Fund—and it can be used for just about anything.

This shouldn’t be confused with a federal stimulus package expected at the end of the month. This is last installment of money doled out under a five-year program first assembled in 2004 under the Liberal government.

The fund is divided into two parts: the Targeted Investment Program and the Innovation and Knowledge fund. The chamber received $305,000 from the first program to increase business networking and to promote business coaching. It also received $41,000 from the second fund to finance a symposium in March aimed at bringing businesses together.

But this was only the first stop for the minister.

After the announcement, Toews rushed to downtown Whitehorse where the Yukon Mine Training Association received $640,000 from the same fund.

“In the last year, we’ve trained over 200 people,” said the association’s chair, Bill Dunn. The new money will be used to organize curricula that will determine the best way to bring these mining trainee’s to the job market.

The training association began after a meeting between several mine company CEOs and First Nations in 2005. The association tries to pinpoint where specific training is lacking in the industry as well as bring miners up to date in their training.

“We train new people coming into the industry and we upgrade people’s skills,” said Dunn. “I was involved with the Minto operation and we’re taking people who are working there and training them as operators.”

There is a lack of training in many fields within the mining industry, he said.

“What we’re trying to do is make sure we match those existing needs.”

Minister Toews made his final stop at Raven Recycling, where a study is being funded with $249,000 from the fund.

Falling commodity prices have hammered the recycling business and the study examine more effective ways of collecting and shipping recyclables out of the Yukon.