The founding president and CEO of the Yukon Hospital Foundation will be the Yukon Party’s candidate in Takhini-Kopper King during the upcoming territorial election.
Vanessa Innes said her views align with those of the Yukon Party, particularly when it comes to carbon pricing.
“At this point, Yukoners do not need to be paying more for everything that they need to live,” she said.
She said there are ways to address climate change without imposing a carbon tax, including retrofitting homes and investing in biomass energy, which she believes could create jobs.
Innes also said the Yukon’s economy will only grow “as a result of having a strong private sector.”
She applauded the Yukon Party’s recent announcement that it has adopted all the recommendations of the procurement advisory panel established last year, and will take steps to help local businesses compete for government contracts.
“I’m sure there are procurement practices that could be enhanced, especially to support the development of First Nation development corporations,” she said.
Innes currently works as a regional economic development advisor in the Yukon government’s Department of Economic Development, where she works with First Nations and development corporations.
She has previously worked as the manager of economic development for the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, where she helped identify development opportunities, including renewable energy projects.
Innes said she’s also interested in health care and education. She’d like to see more work done to prevent suicide, to promote healthy lifestyles and to decrease wait times in the Whitehorse General Hospital.
With regard to recent complaints about overcrowding and understaffing at the hospital, Innes said the Yukon Party “has been taking steps” to reduce the number of acute care beds occupied by long-term care patients with nowhere else to go.
“The real issue is that our population is aging faster than we can keep up with it,” she said, adding that the problem will take a long time to fully resolve.
She said the 150-bed Whistle Bend continuing care centre, currently under construction, is “a great project.”
Innes is also interested in education, and would like to see every Yukon student given the opportunity to learn computer coding. She also wants to be sure that children from low-income families have access to sports and art activities.
Innes led the team that established the Yukon Hospital Foundation in 2005, and was its first president and CEO. The foundation raises money for health care in the territory.
She also established the Northwestel Festival of Trees annual fundraiser, which supports the foundation, and she worked on the Close to Our Hearts campaign to raise money for intensive care equipment.
Innes has some small business experience, having operated an aerobics studio in Whitehorse in the 1980s and 1990s. She was also part of the planning team for the Yukon Arts Centre.
She has lived in the Yukon for 36 years, and in Takhini-Kopper King since 2000.
Innes will go up against sitting NDP MLA Kate White, who won in 2011 with 46 per cent of the vote, well ahead of the Yukon Party’s Samson Hartland with 32 per cent. And her announcement comes well after that of her Liberal rival, Jeane Lassen, who was acclaimed in April.
But Innes isn’t deterred by those challenges.
“The election hasn’t been called yet,” she said. “I think it’s important that Yukoners in this riding have a choice.”
Contact Maura Forrest at firstname.lastname@example.org