Open letter to MP Ryan Leef:
The Canadian government has decided to make unprecedented cuts to Parks Canada. Of the 110 individuals that Parks Canada employs in the Yukon, 30 will be affected by these budget cuts, amounting to almost 28 per cent of Parks Canada’s presence here. This will greatly harm the Yukon’s tourism industry.
Parks Canada has been and always will be a valuable partner to the Yukon’s tourism industry. It manages a considerable portion of the tourism product offered throughout the entire territory and provides much-needed support for many of the owners and operators of tourism related businesses here.
With these cuts, Parks Canada will be stretched thin, and major gaps will be created in the tourism sector. Some of these gaps will make travel to the Yukon less convenient and enjoyable, some could put tourists in harm’s way, others could mean some of our most precious areas will fall into disarray.
With fewer services being offered to visitors to Parks Canada sites, the territory will inevitably draw fewer visitors. This will mean a significant loss of income for our tourism operators and the restaurants and stores that depend on the traffic that these special places attract. This is a major concern, especially for those communities that rely heavily on these businesses for employment and on the tourism-based revenue that supports their local economies.
Over the years, the Yukon has prospered from the expansion of our tourism industry. To allow for the continued sustainability and growth of the industry, government must approach tourism in the Yukon as an investment. This is a prudent investment that will continue to yield dividends far into the future as we continue to build our reputation for world class, natural product.
It is puzzling that with the revenue expected from the recent economic booms in the Yukon, Newfoundland, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, that the federal government sees fit to cut investments that will yield sustainable returns over the long run. These cuts contradict the stated priority of the government of which you are a part.
In the words of the prime minister, the objective of this current government is “to make jobs, growth and long-term prosperity its major emphasis.” How will taking support away from our tourism sector benefit the territory in these ways?
While the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon understands that it is sometimes necessary for government to make changes to the public service to ensure operations are as efficient as possible, it is just as essential for government to realize the basic amount needed to provide adequate support to ensure a sustainable foundation for an industry.
These cuts suggest that the government of Canada may not truly understand the vital role that the Parks Canada agency plays in the Yukon’s tourism industry or the extent to which these cuts will affect the agency’s operations here.
TIA Yukon was hopeful that, as Yukon’s MP, you would recognize the major impact that Parks Canada has on our industry and share our concern of how these cuts will affect the industry and our territory as a whole. However, your comments thus far indicate that this is not the case.
We strongly recommend that you take another look at what these proposed changes will do to tourism in the Yukon, and petition your colleagues in the House of Commons to revisit this decision.
This is an issue that will affect many regions of the territory and many Yukon families. We respectfully ask that you address this matter on behalf of your constituents and our industry that works so hard to showcase the territory and the people whom you represent.
Neil Hartling, chair
Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon