The Yukon Liberals and NDP have signed a renewed confidence and supply agreement.
The agreement, signed by Premier Ranj Pillai and NDP Leader Kate White, came into effect immediately after it was signed in the Yukon legislature on Jan. 31.
The agreement is an extension of the deal between the two parties established in April 2021.
That previous deal expired on Jan. 31. The new deal will remain in effect through the 2025-26 territorial budget until an election is called. The next general election is scheduled for Nov. 3, 2025.
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Medical clinic, free transit promised
The deal is founded on the principle of “good faith and no surprises” and six main themes: health care, education, affordability, housing, reconciliation with First Nations and climate change.
In the agreement under health care, the Yukon government will open a new medical walk-in clinic in Whitehorse by January 2024, put an additional $2 million in each of the next three budgets towards recruiting and retaining health-care workers and establish a managed alcohol program within a year.
On the education front, the government will boost the allocation of educational assistants and learning assistance teachers starting fall 2023, provide all students in need of special education with an individualized education plan and create wellness counsellors or similar positions in every school.
Given the rising cost of living, the government will provide funding to the City of Whitehorse to replace revenue coming from fares and make public transit free, review social assistance rates and apply a $100 per month increase to social assistance recipients in the interim.
No cause evictions are banned and a limit on rent increases tied to inflation that is based on the consumer price index for Whitehorse will be maintained with a minimum of two per cent and a maximum of five per cent each year for the duration of the agreement.
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Liberals pledge ‘stable leadership’
Pillai said the renewed support from the NDP will allow the Liberal government to continue delivering on commitments from the previous arrangement, noting the parties will still find areas where they differ.
“The extended confidence and supply agreement will allow again for strong, stable leadership to address the challenges Yukoners are facing,” he said.
“The Yukon is leading the country in both population and economic growth. This brings with it many opportunities, but, as we know, many challenges. There are Yukoners who are benefiting from the strong economy and there are Yukoners who are struggling. This agreement addresses the needs of all Yukoners.”
Pillai said there is “always compromise” at the negotiation table.
The deal sets out joint priorities that are intended to benefit the Yukon overall. It is not intended to lay out the full program of a Yukon Liberal government or prescribe Yukon NDP caucus support for initiatives left out of the deal.
White said she is “fiercely proud” of the deal. She said the federal NDP looked to the Yukon NDP when negotiating the confidence and supply agreement at the federal level.
She did not give examples of what is missing from the territorial agreement.
“We won’t stop advocating for things that we think are important, but what’s included in this agreement covers a full spectrum of things, and I’m proud of that,” she said.
“Relationships are hard and they require work.”
Official Opposition reacts
According to the Official Opposition, Yukoners should be disappointed because “no one voted for this” arrangement.
Yukon Party Leader Currie Dixon was “a little surprised” the premier signed on. He said Pillai is “trading away any credibility” with the business community, particularly since future spending in terms of public dollars and on businesses hasn’t been costed out.
In theory, Dixon said he supports more money for recruitment and retainment of health-care and education workers.
“The proof will be in the pudding,” he said.
The Yukon Party will keep on holding the parties to account.
“It doesn’t change anything for us,” Dixon said.
Contact Dana Hatherly at firstname.lastname@example.org