A copy of the 2019/2020 Yukon government budget. (Yukon News)

Yukon Liberals predict $5.9M deficit for 2019-2020

There’s expected to be a surplus next fiscal year

The Yukon government’s budget for next year is $1.5 billion, falling in-line, overall, with preceding estimates.

Broken down, this means there is $1.2 billion in operations and maintenances spending, which went over forecasts, and $288 million in capital spending. The latter is consistent with expectations carried over from last year.

“For our government, the development of this budget has offered an opportunity for reflection – to look at the distance travelled since we embarked on this path a short time ago, evaluate the resources and the conversations we have had with Yukoners, and take stock,” said Premier Sandy Silver on Mar. 7, the day the budget was released.

“We approached this budget with a vision based on those values and with a responsibility to Yukoners now and for generations to come.”

The Yukon government is slated to be in deficit by $5.9 million. But this is expected to change in the next fiscal year. The budget predicts that by 2020-21, there will be a $5 million surplus.

Surpluses are expected to continue, with a dip in 2021-2022 to $3.7 million.

Unsurprisingly, the Department of Health and Social Services has the highest budget of all the departments, pegged at 35 per cent of the total; education is next with 15 per cent; and highways and public works sits at 12 per cent.

Capital spending for next year ($288 million), was consistent with forecasts. The Department of Highways and Public Works has 44 per cent of it; community services 25 per cent; and Yukon Housing Corporation 10 per cent.

The Yukon relies heavily on transfers from Ottawa. These are expected to be roughly $1 billion this fiscal year, “with modest growth forecast for future years,” according to a summary of the main budgetary points.

At the beginning of this fiscal year, April 1, there will be a net debt of $11.2 million. To follow next year, however, this is expected to balloon to roughly $58 million.

Other tidbits in the budget include fiscal and economic outlooks. The Yukon’s unemployment rate, for instance, is projected to increase to 3.9 per cent from 2.7 per cent, where it sat last year. The subsequent two years, 2020 and 2021, it’s expected to rise further – 4.7 and 4.9 per cents, respectively.

There are more projects in the second consecutive five-year capital plan. They include group home renovations at Wann Road, worth between $1 and $5 million; the Ross River school, worth between $10 and $25 million; and the Gateway project, which is listed as being worth more than $25 million.

Construction will start on the new French First Language Secondary school in Whitehorse this spring, according to Silver.

“$19 million has been set aside for the project in 2019-20, and we are eager to continue our collaboration with the Commission scolaire francophone du Yukon and the francophone community to help students thrive,” he said.

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

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