Yukon College gets boost in federal budget

Yukon College got a nod from the Canadian government in a 2013 federal budget that is tight on new spending.

Yukon College got a nod from the Canadian government in a 2013 federal budget that is tight on new spending.

The college is getting federal funding for its Centre for Northern Innovation and Mining program, something college president Karen Barnes said has been almost two years in the making.

“It was almost exactly two years ago that I first went east to look at a few mining schools and started to talk about what we could build here in the Yukon,” said Barnes.

The exact figures aren’t yet available, but Barnes said the commitment from Ottawa will help the school get more Yukoners trained for the North’s strong industry sector.

“We don’t actually know (a dollar amount) yet. We’re going to be looking at those details in the next few weeks. I assume that it will be based on our proposal (which asks for around $30 million over a number of years.)”

Even so, the college has already started making strides in the mine training field.

“We’ve already started down this road. We have started our intro to mining operations program (which is graduating its first 10 successful students today). We also have the new mobile trades trailer, which is wonderful news and was embedded inside (the original) proposal,” Barnes said.

The Yukon is also getting a boost to its territorial transfer, which is now $861 million, up from $809 million last year. And the Tories have decided to cement the gas tax fund, permanently pegging it to inflation at two per cent. That will be a big help to the territory’s municipalities because the gas tax makes up a significant portion of their budgets.

Yukon MP Ryan Leef said both the gas tax fund and funding for the college were the two big messages he and Senator Daniel Lang heard from their consultations with Yukoners in advance of the budget planning.

“Senator Lang and I were involved early on. It was something we asked for directly from Minister Flaherty when we had our input in December with him. We heard over and over again Yukoners wanted opportunities in this boom in the industry. They wanted these jobs to be more than the unskilled labour jobs, and they wanted to make sure that they had the training and opportunity in the Yukon,” Leef said.

That fits well with the Conservative budget’s theme of skilled trades and job training.

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced the budget yesterday afternoon, which aims to slay the national deficit in time for the next federal election in 2015. Highlights include:

* $900 million in new spending with no new tax cuts.

* $400 million in revenue saved from cracking down on tax loopholes and cheating.

* A total deficit of $18.7 billion, an increase of $2.2 billion since Flaherty’s November update.

* A new 10-year, $14.4 billion infrastructure fund starting in 2014.

* $241 million over five years for First Nations skills training.

For more national budget coverage, see story on page 14.

Contact Jesse Winter at

jessew@yukon-news.com

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