Currie Dixon gives his acceptance speech after winning the Yukon Party leader election on May 23. The Yukon Party said changes need to be made to the Civil Emergency Measures Act to prevent territorial governments from acting without transparency. (Submitted)

Yukon Party calls for more oversight in use of Civil Emergency Measures Act

Premier said the opposition will get their say when the legislature resumes in October

The Yukon Party said changes need to be made to the Civil Emergency Measures Act to prevent territorial governments from acting without transparency.

In a statement released Sept. 2, the opposition says it plans to amend the act to require oversight by the legislative assembly, even during an emergency.

Their primary concerns are the extension of the state of emergency by 90 days on June 12, the territorial debt limit being raised to $800 million and the back to school plan, all of which was done without recalling the legislature.

“The Civil Emergency Measures Act was designed to respond quickly to emergencies like floods and fires and those types of acute emergencies. But in the case of an extended emergency, like the one we’re in, I think it’s entirely appropriate that the Yukon Legislative Assembly play a role in providing oversight and accountability for the Yukon government,” Yukon Party Leader Currie Dixon said.

“This will be a part of our election platform going into the next election, whenever it may be,” he said.

In March the government passed the 2020-21 budget before shutting down the spring session early due to COVID-19 concerns. On June 12 the Liberal government extended the state of emergency for 90 days. The legislature is scheduled to resume Oct. 1.

A number of provinces and territories have recalled their legislature for emergency sittings in order to pass new COVID-19 laws, including Ontario and British Columbia.

At a press conference on Sept. 2 Premier Sandy Silver said the government had been “busy dealing with the pandemic” and he hadn’t seen the proposal from the opposition.

Silver said the legislature will return on Oct. 1 and he is “very interested in what the opposition has to say, suggestions and critiques.”

“I’m looking forward to that opportunity. Private member’s days on Wednesdays are a great opportunity for the opposition to have their say to put forth motions and other things. Nothing is stopping them right now from sending in emails or letters as well,” Silver said.

Silver said the Liberal government has offered the opposition briefings and discussions.

Dixon said none of those avenues replace the legislature, and the lack of oversight from that official institution is “undemocratic.”

While Dixon said while many decisions made by the Liberal government during the pandemic have been necessary, some have also been controversial. Seven people filed a petition to the Yukon Supreme Court in June arguing that the territorial government’s COVID-19 border control and health orders, as well as the act under which they were made, are unconstitutional and should be struck down.

“We’re into six months now [of the pandemic] and the legislature hasn’t sat at all. So Yukoners haven’t had the ability through their democratically elected representatives to ask questions and raise issues,” he said.

An election for the next territorial government must take place before November 14, 2021.

Contact Haley Ritchie at

Yukon legislative assembly

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

Just Posted

Site selection for battery project draws ire of nearby landowners

Yukon Energy is accepting public comments on three possible sites for the project

Taking a closer look at the cosmos

Star gazing party scheduled for Sept. 18

Former Yukon U president takes new job following resignation

Vice President University Services Maggie Matear has been appointed as interim president


Wyatt’s World for Sept. 18, 2020

Arrest made in 2019 Ross River murder

Phillip Atkinson, 63, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Mary Ann Ollie

Baggage screening changes begin

Passengers are asked to arrive earlier than normal in order to accommodate the new temporary system

Yukon Government extends education review

The final report is scheduled for release in March 2021

City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Lawsuit against Freedom Trails settled

The suit was dismissed with consent of all parties

Tank farm takes another step towards development

OCP designation passes second reading

Climate change strategy targets 30 per cent reduction in territory greenhouse gases by 2030

The strategy includes rebates for electric vehicles but puts off mining targets for two years

Watson Lake to hold mayoral byelection

Residents of Watson Lake will elect a new mayor on Oct. 8.… Continue reading

Teslin Tlingit Council elects chief, deputy chief

Teslin Tlingit Council citizens have elected Eric Morris as the new Naa Sháade Háni

Most Read