Yukon Liberals say government is allowing private sector to shrink

Liberal Leader Sandy Silver says the Yukon government's rhetoric doesn't match its record when it comes to job creation.

Liberal Leader Sandy Silver says the Yukon government’s rhetoric doesn’t match its record when it comes to job creation.

In the legislative assembly on Wednesday, Silver said the private sector has lost 600 jobs while the public sector gained 500 in the last year.

During last week’s budget speech, Premier Darrell Pasloski said that “government needs to support the economy, not become the economy.”

But Silver said the numbers tell a different story.

“Under the Yukon Party, the government is becoming the economy,” he said. “Why has this government failed to grow the private sector?”

Silver’s numbers come from the Yukon Bureau of Statistics’ monthly employment reports. Those reports show that private-sector jobs have declined steadily for the last two years.

In March 2016, there were 10,300 private-sector jobs in the territory, down from 11,700 in March 2014. The public sector grew to 8,600 jobs from 7,600 in March 2014.

That means 45.5 per cent of working Yukoners were employed by one of the four levels of government in March 2016, up from 39.4 per cent two years ago.

“This government is saying that they’re growing the private sector, but that’s not true,” Silver told the News.

Still, the private sector hasn’t been shrinking throughout this government’s mandate. In March 2012, there were 10,600 private-sector jobs in the Yukon. Two years later, that number had increased by more than 1,000.

In fact, the private sector has grown and shrunk multiple times in the last four years.

In the legislative assembly, Pasloski quickly went on the offensive.

“Look out, public sector. The public sector Yukoners want to know what jobs that the Liberal Party will cut when they come into power,” he said. “Will it be teachers? Will it be nurses? Will it be people who look after our roads or our education assistants?”

But Silver insists that he doesn’t have it in for government employees.

“Nurses and teachers need not worry. We’re not cutting jobs,” he said. “Growing government’s not a bad thing. This is not about that.”

Silver said he’s just pointing out that the Yukon Party isn’t being totally honest when it claims to be helping the private sector.

He said a Liberal government would work to grow the private sector, though he wouldn’t provide more details.

“Our job right now is to critique this government,” he said. “When the platform comes out, we’ll show you that we have a plan for the economy.”

The latest Yukon Bureau of Statistics report also shows that the Yukon had the lowest unemployment rate in the country in March 2016, at 5.4 per cent. Canada’s overall unemployment rate is 7.1 per cent.

Contact Maura Forrest at

maura.forrest@yukon-news.com

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