Ranj Pillai, minister of economic development, centre, along with Richard Mostyn, minister of highways and public works, not pictured, and John Streicker, minister of community services, not pictured, announce a a suite of measures to take the pressure off an ailing economy due to COVID-19 at a press conference in Whitehorse on March 26. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

YG rolls out relief measures for businesses, tenants

Employers now can recoup costs for sick leave they’ve paid out

The Yukon government has unveiled a suite of measures to take the pressure off an ailing economy due to COVID-19.

Those unable to pay rent because of the health crisis won’t be evicted; the aviation sector is to receive funding to offset certain costs; and business owners will be able to recoup some wages paid out to sick staff.

“There’s no question that these are challenging times,” said Ranj Pillai, minister of the Department of Economic Development, on March 26. “Yukoners are experiencing anxiety, hardship right now and there’s uncertainty all around us.”

The Yukon government is following through with its commitment to a paid sick leave program, he said, now covering those who don’t qualify for it so that they can stay home if sick. The self-employed are also eligible.

“It means that retroactive to March 11 all eligible Yukoners will receive an additional 10 paid sick leave work days in the event they become sick and need to self-isolate during this pandemic,” said Pillai of the roughly $6 million program, adding that doctors’ notes aren’t required.

Employers, he continued, are able to recoup wages paid out to sick employees for the days they took off.

“These paid sick leave work days will apply after all existing regular paid sick leave for the employee has been used,” Pillai said.

For the self-employed the rebate will be based on average daily earnings.

The rebate is going to be available for six months.

NDP Leader Kate White told the News the initiative falls flat in that some workers — those who aren’t sick — are left hanging. Everyone laid off should qualify, she said.

There’s a wait time until federal dollars kick in and no bridge support from the Yukon government, she continued. British Columbia has put forward stopgap measures to help see people through — a rent freeze and $500 subsidy. White said this could be emulated here.

The Yukon government announced the establishment of a business advisory council this week in order to monitor further economic impacts. Twenty people are part of it. They are look into the issue for six months, perhaps longer, if necessary.

There are changes to the Yukon Nominee Program. Immigrants typically have 90 days to find other work without it affecting their status in the country. This has been waived, Pillai said, and new program applications for original employment won’t be required once COVID-19 blows over.

Richard Mostyn, minister of the Department of Highways and Public Works, announced savings for the aviation sector worth roughly $210,000. The industry has been one of the hardest hit in the country if not the world.

“We’re waiving all airport landing, aircraft parking fees and aircraft loading fees in the Yukon until Dec. 31, 2020,” he said. “It incentivizes carriers of all sizes to visit and stay in the Yukon once that traffic resumes. It also eliminates a bill that several businesses would have had to pay.”

COVID-19 specific regulations have also been implemented to ensure that people aren’t kicked out of their rental units.

Those who are self-isolating or have experienced job or income loss can’t be evicted and rent will be deferred, said John Streicker, minister of community services, adding that his department is to work with landlords and tenants going forward.

The regulations are in effect for three months.

White said while it’s good there’s certainty for renters prior to April 1, the Department of Community Services has more work to do.

“Yesterday’s announcement isn’t really clear how landlords will be able to get through this, because if you have multiple properties it doesn’t mean you can get a mortgage deferral,” she said.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

CoronavirusYukon government

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

Just Posted

In a Feb. 17 statement, the City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology used for emergency response. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Three words could make all the difference in an emergency

City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology

Jesse Whelen, Blood Ties Four Directions harm reduction councillor, demonstrates how the organization tests for fentanyl in drugs in Whitehorse on May 12, 2020. The Yukon Coroner’s Service has confirmed three drug overdose deaths and one probable overdose death since mid-January. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three overdose deaths caused by “varying levels of cocaine and fentanyl,” coroner says

Heather Jones says overdoses continue to take lives at an “alarming rate”

Wyatt's World for Feb. 24, 2021.
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Feb. 24, 2021.

Approximately 30 Yukoners protest for justice outside the Whitehorse courthouse on Feb. 22, while a preliminary assault hearing takes place inside. The Whitehorse rally took place after the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society, based in Watson Lake, put out a call to action over the weekend. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Courthouse rally denounces violence against Indigenous women

The Whitehorse rally took place after the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society put out a call to action

Then Old Crow MLA Darius Elias speak’s in the community centre in Old Crow in 2016. Elias died in Whitehorse on Feb. 17. (Maura Forrest/Yukon News file)
Condolences shared for former Vuntut Gwitchin MLA Darius Elias

Elias is remembered as a proud parent, hockey fan and politican

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

The Yukon government and the Yukon First Nations Chamber of Commerce have signed a letter of understanding under the territory’s new procurement policy. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
First Nation business registry planned under new procurement system

Letter of understanding signals plans to develop registry, boost procurement opportunities

US Consul General Brent Hardt during a wreath-laying ceremony at Peace Arch State Park in September 2020. Hardt said the two federal governments have been working closely on the issue of appropriate border measures during the pandemic. (John Kageorge photo)
New U.S. consul general says countries working closely on COVID-19 border

“I mean, the goal, obviously, is for both countries to get ahead of this pandemic.”

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Start of spring sitting announced

The Yukon legislature is set to resume for the spring sitting on… Continue reading

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

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

(Submitted)
History Hunter: Kwanlin Dün — a book of history, hardship and hope

Dǎ Kwǎndur Ghày Ghàkwadîndur: Our Story in Our Words is published by… Continue reading

(File photo)
RCMP arrest Saskatchewan murder suspect

Yukon RCMP have arrested a man suspected of attempted murder from outside… Continue reading

Most Read