Angélique Bernard, commissioner of the Yukon, outlines the priorities of the Yukon government in a throne speech on Oct. 3, during the first day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Oct. 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Yukon government lays out priorities for fall sitting and beyond

Issues include addressing segregation at the Whitehorse jail and a ban on single-use plastic bags

An energy retrofit loan program; bans on conversion therapy and single-use bags; considering legislation on e-cigarettes and vaping.

These are priorities of the Yukon government as outlined by Angélique Bernard, commissioner of the Yukon, in a throne speech on Oct. 3, which coincided with the first day of the fall sitting.

In the New Year, the government is also to make amendments to the Assessment and Taxation Act in order to usher in an energy retrofit initiative for homeowners, akin to the domestic well water loan program, the commissioner announced.

“We’ve taken a look at how we can best reduce our emissions in the Yukon and this program really helps people not only reduce their emissions but their costs to heating their homes,” said Premier Sandy Silver.

Earlier in the year, the government had been engaging Yukoners on whether they’d like to see a surcharge placed on single-use bags. After first seeming as though the territory was heading that way, officials have now decided to implement an outright ban.

Asked about the change, Silver said, “I think what it came down to, in my opinion, was we asked Yukoners and the overall consensus, both from individuals and the business community, was a ban as opposed to a fee.”

Silver added that the ban is going to be implemented in the coming year.

“We are going to give some significant time for this significant change.”

There could be a new school coming down the pipes for Ross River, Silver confirmed, noting that such a development, if it goes ahead, would be further down the road.

“We need to get a stakeholder engagement about what a school looks like, what programming looks like, as well, and where it is.”

The current school has design flaws, the result of it being built on a bed of permafrost.

Stacey Hassard, the Yukon Party’s interim leader, said much of the throne speech could have been encapsulated in news releases. Doing so, he said, would have saved time.

“This could possibly take up three or four days with throne speech responses. I think the time could have been better spent on legislation issues that are important to Yukoners.”

Hassard said the speech was cut with re-announcements — on retrofits, for instance.

“They say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery, so welcome to our 2016 NDP election platform,” said Kate White, leader of the NDP. “I’m ecstatic. I look forward to the progressive move of Yukon government. We also saw a lot of things we were working on in the last sitting.”

The NDP tabled a motion last sitting that called for a ban on single-use plastics, for instance.

White wants to know when conversion therapy will be banned in the territory.

Other issues to be tackled this sitting include introducing legislation that will turn Yukon College into a university, amendments to the Corrections Act in order to reform the use of segregation at Whitehorse’s prison and bringing in a “modern Liquor Act to balance business and consumer needs with measures to reduce alcohol-related harm, promote social responsibility and improve compliance.”

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

Correction: This story has been updated to correct details about the ban on single-use bags. Government officials say they are still designing the proposed ban and both plastic and paper bags are on the table.

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