The Yukon legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse. The assembly is poised to resume Oct. 1 after an extra long break due to COVID-19. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

What to expect: Yukon legislature resumes Oct. 1

In March the legislative assembly quickly passed the budget before ending early

The Yukon legislature will resume on Oct. 1 with a few changes that include masks, social distancing and – if parties are to be believed – a new spirit of collaboration.

The legislature resumes Oct. 1 at 1 p.m.

So far items up for discussion are expected to include a bill on fixed election dates, changes to the Condominium Act, leftover legislation from the spring sitting and multiple budgets that will include details on COVID-19 spending.

All government bills to be dealt with during the 2020 Fall Sitting will have to be introduced by Oct. 8.

In March the legislative assembly quickly passed the budget before ending early due to COVID-19.

How long the fall session will last is a decision that will be made by mid-October. At its shortest, the legislative assembly will rise on Nov. 5 and at its longest, the House will rise on Dec. 14.

Leftover business

Seven bills left over from the last sitting are already on the order paper and up for debate. These include the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Protection Act that will ban conversion therapy for minors and the Act to Eliminate Daylight Saving Time.

Legislation is also being brought forward that would allow victims of domestic or sexual violence to access a paid or unpaid leave of absence.

State of emergency financials

On Sept. 29 Government House Leader Tracy-Anne McPhee said the government plans to introduce two supplementary budgets. These documents deal with changes in spending from what was previously allocated in the main budget.

The first will deal with changes made to the 2019-20 budget, including funds that have already been spent.

A second supplementary budget will deal with changes made to the 2020-21 budget, including changes in spending that have come up over the last six months during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The federal government has also made some major funding announcements recently tied to emergency relief that will be included in those financials.

In June the federal government doubled the territory’s debt limit to $800 million at the request of the Yukon government. At the time the premier said the funds don’t have to be used, but could make more green energy projects possible.

Opposition priorities

Both the Yukon Party and the NDP have been criticizing the decision not to recall the legislature during the COVID-19 state of emergency, so don’t expect that tone to lessen as the government resumes sitting as scheduled.

Both parties say they want an opportunity to give feedback on COVID-19 decisions – and they’ll likely be making up for lost time when they get their chance during the sitting.

Yukon Party leader Currie Dixon said the party has concerns about the Liberal strategy when it comes to businesses struggling with the pandemic, the government’s approach to wildlife management and hunting and the debt limit being doubled in a state of emergency.

NDP party leader Kate White said her main priorities right now are a post-pandemic vision for the territory, including a living wage. The Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition pegs that number at $19.07 per hour, but the minimum wage is now $13.71 per hour.

Both Dixon and White said they have concerns about the current back-to-school configuration, including a decision to make some high school grades part-time that has many parents and students concerned.

Playing nice

The most recent full sitting by the government a year ago was characterized by back-and-forth bickering. Dixon said his party intends to change that going forward.

“We’re going to be taking an approach that’s very constructive and positive. We’re going to offer solutions,” he said.

Unsurprisingly, the Liberal Party isn’t taking the blame for political tension either. When asked about Dixon’s statement by reporters, McPhee said her party has been aiming for collaboration since 2016.

“We’ve always taken the position that constructive work together is far more productive on behalf of Yukoners, than sniping or insults or name-calling for the purposes of trying to make cheap points,” she said.

NDP leader Kate White said she looks forward to seeing both parties end “the blame game.”

“It doesn’t make life better for Yukoners,” White said.

Election looming

A territorial election is looming, a fact that is likely to influence how politicians interact over the sitting days and the following 12 months.

The Liberals will be required to call an election sometime prior to Nov. 18, 2021. Although they plan to introduce new legislation that would establish fixed election dates going forward, that law won’t come into effect until after the next election.

Without a fixed election date the decision of when to call an election remains with the sitting government. All three parties and election officials are already beginning to prepare for an election that could, in theory, be called at any time.

Contact Haley Ritchie at

Correction: This article has been updated to clarify that while the Yukon government requested the federal government to increase the debt limit, the Yukon government did not in fact increase the debt limit, and that only four of the returning seven bills are government bills.

Yukon legislative assembly

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

Just Posted

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks to media at a press conference about COVID-19 in Whitehorse on March 30. The Yukon government announced three new cases of COVID-19 in Watson Lake on Oct. 23. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three new COVID-19 cases identified in Watson Lake

The Yukon government has identified three locations in town where public exposure may have occurred

A pedestrian passes by an offsales sandwich board along Fourth Avenue in Whitehorse on Oct. 22. NDP MLA Liz Hanson raised concerns Oct. 21 in the legislature about increased hospitalizations due to alcohol consumption that correlate with an extension in the hours alcohol can be sold in the territory. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Alcohol-related hospitalizations rise after off-sales hours extended

Reduced hours for off-sale liquor establishments likely part of Liquor Act spring reforms

Tourism and Culture Minister Jeanie McLean (formerly Dendys) speaks during legislative assembly in Whitehorse on Nov. 27, 2017. The Yukon government has announced $2.8 million in tourism relief funding aimed at businesses in the accommodation sector that have already maxed out existing funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Tourism relief funding offers $2.8 million to hotels and overnight accommodations

$15 million in relief funding is planned for the tourism sector over the next three years

The Whitehorse sewage lagoons photographed in 2011. With new regulations for wastewater anticipated to be introduced by the federal government within the next decade, the City of Whitehorse may soon be doing some prep work by looking at exactly what type of pollutants are making their way into the city’s wastewater. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Pondering pollutants

City could spend $70,000 looking at what contaminents are in waste water

Most of Whitehorse Individual Learning Centre’s class of 2020 graduates. The former students were welcomed back and honoured by staff at the school on Oct. 14 with a personalized grad ceremony for each graduate. (Submitted)
Individual Learning Centre grads honoured

Members of the Whitehorse Individual Learning Centre’s class of 2020 were welcomed… Continue reading

Benjamin Munn, 12, watches the HPV vaccine in 2013. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available to all Yukoners up to, and including, age 26. Currently the program is only available to girls ages nine to 18 and boys ages nine to 14. (Dan Bates/Black Press file)
HPV vaccine will be available to Yukoners up to, including, age 26

Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

COMMENTARY: Me and systemic racism

The view from a place of privilege

Today’s mailbox: Electricity and air travel

Letters to the editor published Oct. 23, 2020

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Irony versus Climate

Lately it seems like Irony has taken over as Editor-in-Chief at media… Continue reading

Evan Lafreniere races downhill during the U Kon Echelon Halloweeny Cross-Country Race on Oct. 16. (Inara Barker/Submitted)
Costumed bike race marks end of season

The U Kon Echelon Bike Club hosted its final race of the… Continue reading

Smartphone showing various applications to social media services and Google. (Pixabay photo)
National media calling for level playing field with Google, Facebook

In Canada, Google and Facebook control 80 per cent of all online advertising revenues

Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee, right, before question period at the Yukon legislative assembly in Whitehorse on March 7, 2019. The Yukon government announced Oct. 19 it has increased the honoraria rates for school council members. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Honoraria increased for school council members

Members of school councils throughout the territory could soon receive an increased… Continue reading

Most Read