Yukon NDP promises to protect mining contractors

The Yukon NDP says it will change legislation to protect local mining suppliers and contractors from mine bankruptcies if it forms the next government.

The Yukon NDP says it will change legislation to protect local mining suppliers and contractors from mine bankruptcies if it forms the next government.

The party plans to amend the Miners Lien Act to limit the amount of money controlling shareholders would be repaid before local contractors if a mining company goes bankrupt. The idea is that, if the company goes bust, local businesses owed money will have a better chance of getting paid their due.

“Basically, we want to ensure that creditors, the business people… get paid out,” said NDP Leader Liz Hanson. “Right now, the priority goes to investors.”

The commitment largely stems from the case of Yukon Zinc, the company that operated the Wolverine mine near Watson Lake, which filed for creditor protection for $646 million of debt last year. The vast majority of that debt — nearly $600 million — was owed to its parent company, JDC Canada.

The company eventually restructured and paid out pennies on the dollar to its creditors, including several local contractors. Had the creditors refused that deal, JDC could have acquired the mine and paid them nothing.

“We want to avoid another Yukon Zinc situation,” Hanson said. “Fifty-two Yukon companies were left on the hook for $4.3 million. That’s $4.3 million taken out of the Yukon economy.”

The NDP is promising to limit how much parent companies like JDC could be repaid ahead of other secured creditors. Candidate Rod Snow stressed that controlling shareholders would still be able to invest as much as they want in Yukon mining companies. But they won’t be able to claim priority over other creditors for all of that money if the debt is vastly higher than the company’s equity.

“They won’t be able to get repaid the loans that make up that debt in priority to lien-holders (secured creditors), to the extent that they are excessive,” Snow said.

However, it’s unclear whether the proposal would have changed the outcome of Yukon Zinc’s restructuring, as most of those creditors were unsecured and this amendment would only apply to those with liens.

The NDP also says it wants Yukoners to account for 75 per cent of the mining workforce, and it plans to work with communities to plan for new housing ahead of an uptick in Yukon’s mining sector.

The Yukon Party has also made several mining-related commitments, including a promise to create a Yukon-specific mineral exploration tax credit.

The credit would be available to mining companies that pay taxes in the Yukon, and would be capped at $2 million a year.

“When markets are a little bit depressed… this is an opportunity for us to find ways to jumpstart (exploration),” said candidate Scott Kent.

The Yukon had its own exploration tax credit from 1999 to 2007, the last time the mining sector was in a slump. The credit was only capped in 2006, at $300,000 per company, after exploration spending increased dramatically.

The federal government has also offered a mineral exploration tax credit since 2000, although that credit applies only to flow-through shares in companies and some economists argue it does more to favour investors than to boost industry.

The Yukon Party also wants to develop regulations to allow small mines to use regional mills, meaning they wouldn’t all have to build their own infrastructure.

For their part, the Yukon Liberals’ commitments around mining have been somewhat less concrete.

The party wants to make Yukon’s environmental assessment process more efficient, but hasn’t clearly explained how.

“One of our biggest concerns is duplicating the licensing that’s required through YESAA and then through the water board. Making sure that’s streamlined,” said Liberal candidate and Kluane First Nation Chief Mathieya Alatini. “First Nations are not out there to say ‘no’ to industry. We’re saying ‘Let’s make some common-sense decisions, let’s cut some of the red tape that’s out there, but let’s still do it ensuring that we’re taking care of the environment properly.’”

The Liberals want to implement the mine licensing improvement initiative, which has been underway for well over a year. They also say they will implement a mineral development strategy.

All three major parties have also promised to spend more on tourism, in a nod to the importance of economic diversification.

The Liberals have promised to increase the annual core tourism marketing fund from $5 million to $7 million and to double the investment in direct consumer marketing.

The Yukon Party says it will spend $2 million a year on tourism infrastructure in rural Yukon, and wants to plan for a new visitors’ centre in Watson Lake.

The NDP says it will increase the number of campsites and hiking trails at Yukon parks and campgrounds by augmenting the budget to $500,000 annually.

Contact Maura Forrest at maura.forrest@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Zhùr, the ancient wolf pup found mummified in permafrost at Last Chance Creek mine in July 2016. (Government of Yukon/Submitted)
‘Mummy’ wolf pup unearthed in permafrost paints a picture of ice age ancestors

Zhùr is the best preserved and most complete mummy of an ancient wolf found to date.

Former premier Tony Penikett begins a presentation at the Whitehorse Public Library about his book, Hunting the Northern Character, on Dec. 11, 2018. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Former premier named to Order of Canada

Tony Penikett reflects on career

Ed Hopkins starts the 36-mile race at the Carbon Hill Race Day on Jan. 10. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)
Dogs take over Mount Lorne for Carbon Hill Race Day

The Dog Powered Sports Association of the Yukon (DPSAY) hosted its annual… Continue reading

As it gets set to turn over ownership of its supportive housing building downtown to Yukon Housing, Options For Independence will not be required to pay back more than $65,000 in City of Whitehorse grants it was provided towards property taxes, decided city councillors on Jan. 11. (John Hopkins-HIll/Yukon News file)
Exemption granted for building transfer

Options For Independence won’t be required to pay back city grants

Mayor Dan Curtis speaks during a city council meeting in Whitehorse on March 9, 2020. Whitehorse property owners can expect their 2021 property tax bills to rise by less than a per cent if the operating budget for the year is adopted as proposed. “A minimal tax increase allows the city to maintain its many existing services and programs, while also supporting important initiatives such as climate change mitigation and enhanced bylaw enforcement,” Curtis said. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Minimal increase proposed for Whitehorse property taxes

Budget would see 0.34 per cent tax increase

The grace period for the new Yukon lobbyist registry has come to an end and those who seek to influence politicians will now need to report their efforts to a public database. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Grace period for new lobbyist registry ends

So far nine lobbyists have registered their activities with politicians in the territory

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21, 2020. Some Yukon tourism and culture non-profit organizations may be eligible to receive up to $20,000 to help recover from losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Details released on relief funding for tourism and culture non-profits

Some Yukon tourism and culture non-profit organizations may be eligible to receive… Continue reading

Mayo-Tatchun MLA Don Hutton won’t be runing for re-election. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Mayo-Tatchun MLA won’t run for re-election

Liberal MLA Don Hutton won’t be running for re-election. A former wildland… Continue reading

Large quantities of a substance believed to be cocaine, a large amount of cash, several cells phones and a vehicle were all seized after RCMP searched a Whistle Bend home on Jan. 6. (Photo courtesy RCMP)
Seven arrested after drug trafficking search

RCMP seized drugs, money from Whistle Bend residence on Jan. 6

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Whitehorse RCMP are seeing a growing trend of vehicle break-and-enters in the Kopper King area. (Black Press file)
Series of break-and-enters in Kopper King area

Series of break-and-enters in Kopper King area Whitehorse RCMP are seeing a… Continue reading

Signage near the newly opened Dawson City ice bridge. (Sandy Silver/Facebook)
Dawson City ice bridge opens

The Dawson ice bridge has opened. In a Jan. 6 social media… Continue reading

Whitehorse RCMP are requesting assistance identifying three suspects who stole tens of thousands of dollars of property from Cobalt Construction on the evenings of Dec. 28, 29, and 30. They were operating a stolen Toyota Camry, which was beige in colour with the license plate HML66. (Photo courtesy RCMP)
RCMP seeking three suspects after burglary

Whitehorse RCMP are requesting assistance identifying three suspects who stole tens of… Continue reading

Most Read