Yukon NDP releases full platform

The Yukon NDP is promising to cut taxes for low-income Yukoners and increase them for higher-income earners as part of its full election platform, released on Friday.

The Yukon NDP is promising to cut taxes for low-income Yukoners and increase them for higher-income earners as part of its full election platform, released on Friday.

The party says it will lower the 6.4 per cent income tax rate that currently applies to anyone who makes less than about $45,000 a year, though it hasn’t said by how much. It also plans to increase rates for those in the top two tax brackets, meaning anyone who makes more than about $140,000.

An NDP government would use the revenue from the high-income tax increase and from a carbon tax to offset the tax cut to those with low incomes.

Through this campaign, the New Democrats have touted their plans to create a $50-million renewable energy fund, ban fracking, increase the minimum wage to $15 and make the first year of tuition at Yukon College free.

But their platform includes a number of new commitments, including plans to freeze royalty rates, to begin looking at alternative voting systems, and to create a Species At Risk Act and a wetlands strategy.

“We are putting forward new, bold ideas,” NDP Leader Liz Hanson said in a statement. “The Yukon’s future is at risk if we keep on this track. Our innovative, new ideas are the way to a better future.”

The NDP plans to update Yukon’s mining legislation, including with a mechanism to share royalties with First Nations. The party says it will freeze quartz and placer mining royalty rates for five years and will ban quartz staking within municipalities, unless it’s permitted by local bylaws.

The platform includes a number of environmental commitments, including plans to implement a territory-wide wetlands strategy, to create species at risk legislation and to ban the export of water from the Yukon.

“We don’t want our water to become an export product under free trade regimes defying Yukon’s best interest,” a party spokesperson told the News via email.

The NDP also wants to develop an emergency preparedness plan for the territory and to change the flood protection policy “to ensure it is applied in an equitable manner.”

Health care is a major focus of the NDP platform, including commitments to expand nursing home care on evenings and weekends and to improve dental care for children, especially in rural communities.

Like the other parties, the NDP says it will regulate midwifery.

It also says it will offer the Vimy Heritage Housing Society free land or money to help the group build a supported living facility, and it will create a “seniors’ navigator service” to help seniors access services without having to go through multiple government departments.

The party also wants to develop a guaranteed income pilot project for the Yukon and to try and create a guaranteed income for people with lifetime cognitive disabilities.

It plans to add gender identity and expression to the Yukon Human Rights Act and to update the Vital Statistics Act so that transgender Yukoners won’t have to undergo sex reassignment surgery before they can change their gender on official documents.

It also wants to find a new location for the Takhini Haven group home. “The location within the compound of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre is entirely inappropriate and is isolated from the community,” according to the spokesperson.

It also says it will limit the use of solitary confinement at the correctional centre.

It would also allow first responders and rescue workers who have completed over 200 hours of unpaid work to claim a $3,000 tax credit.

With respect to the economy, the NDP says it will build a second fibre-optic line, but it will put the project out to tender instead of simply awarding it to Northwestel, as the Yukon Party government has done.

The party says building the line along the Dempster Highway is still the most likely option.

It also suggested it might expand the Yukon small business tax credit, as the Liberals have promised to do, but didn’t make a firm commitment.

Like the Yukon Party and the Liberals, the NDP says it will work toward making Yukon College a university.

Also related to education, it plans to eliminate program fees for things like music, athletics, outdoor expeditions and extra-curricular activities in elementary and high schools.

It also wants to expand the school curriculum to include Indigenous history, the legacy of residential schools, land claims and final agreements from kindergarten to Grade 12.

The party says it will make National Aboriginal Day a statutory holiday, as it has long been pushing the Yukon Party government to do.

It has also made housing-related commitments, including plans to cap pad rental increases and remove evictions without cause for mobile home owners.

It also wants to make it easier to build tiny homes in Yukon communities. “Tiny houses fall in the cracks of municipal zoning,” the spokesperson wrote.

The party says it will ban corporate, union and outside donations to Yukon political parties, and will create a public lobbyist registry.

It will also pass legislation to require by-elections if any MLA crosses the floor.

And the party wants to update Yukon’s access-to-information legislation to make recommendations from the privacy commissioner binding on the government.

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