Yukon surplus almost gone

The Yukon government posted a small deficit of $6.6 million in 2010-11, according to the finalized public accounts released on Monday. But, with some hand-waving, Premier Darrell Pasloski made it sound as if the territory actually produced a modest surplus of $1.6 million.

The Yukon government posted a small deficit of $6.6 million in 2010-11, according to the finalized public accounts released on Monday.

But, with some hand-waving, Premier Darrell Pasloski made it sound as if the territory actually produced a modest surplus of $1.6 million.

He did so by issuing a news release that stuck to the consolidated figures, which lump in the assets of the territory’s Crown corporations.

You’d need to flip to the unconsolidated numbers – which go unmentioned in the release, but are the ones that MLAs focus on when they scrutinize spending – to see the government fell into the red for the second year in a row, following a deficit of $25.6 million in 2009-10.

Also inflated is the amount of money in the territory’s piggybank. The government has net financial resources, or savings, of just $28.4 million, compared to the rosy, consolidated figure of $169 million.

Subtract money once invested in asset-backed commercial paper, now valued at $26.4 million and locked up until 2017, and the territory’s left with savings of just $2 million.

This means the Yukon Party no longer has the luxury of continuing to spend far more money than it takes in, as was done under Dennis Fentie, unless it wants to give up its bragging rights as one of two Canadian jurisdictions – Alberta is the other – that has a savings account.

In March of 2008, the Yukon’s savings stood at $165 million. But Fentie withdrew $30 million in 2009, $67.5 million in 2010, and $39 million last year.

All of this doesn’t mean the territory is about to run out of money. The government had $124 million in cash at the end of last fiscal year.

But much of that is spoken for. The bulk is earmarked as future pension benefits for government workers.

That money isn’t needed right away. But, if the territory begins to spend it, it may end up digging a hole for future generations to clamber out of.

The territory could try to sell the investments that replaced asset-backed paper. But, if sold before maturation, the territory wouldn’t receive a full return on the $36 million it paid.

The Yukon Party has run up two deficits, if you stick to their current method of accrual accounting. But they’ve run up more if you follow the cash.

Yukon’s switch to accrual accounting in 2004-05 has made it possible for the territory to spend more money than it receives and still stay in the black. It does so by counting new buildings and bridges as assets, rather than liabilities.

Some of the big capital projects embarked on by the government include the new prison, ambulance base and waterfront developments in Whitehorse.

The territory’s also borrowed $170 million, to pay for the construction of new hospitals in Watson Lake and Dawson City, a new medical residence in Whitehorse, and to expand the Mayo hydroelectric facilities.

Several departments overshot their operations budgets last year.

Health and Social Services was the biggest culprit, going over by $2.3 million. The Yukon Housing Corporation blew its budget by $1.7 million. The Child and Youth Advocate office missed the mark by $17,000.

Contact John Thompson at


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

Just Posted

Maria Metzen off the start line of the Yukon Dog Mushers Association’s sled dog race on Jan. 9. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Mushers race in preparation for FirstMate Babe Southwick

The annual race is set for Feb. 12 and 13.

The Yukon government is making changes to the medical travel system, including doubling the per diem and making destinations for medical services more flexible. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Subsidy for medical travel doubled with more supports coming

The change was recommended in the Putting People First report endorsed by the government

Chloe Sergerie, who was fined $500 under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> on Jan. 12, says she made the safest choice available to her when she entered the territory. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Woman fined $500 under CEMA says she made ‘safest decision’ available

Filling out a declaration at the airport was contrary to self-isolation, says accused

The Yukon Department of Education building in Whitehorse on Dec. 22, 2020. Advocates are calling on the Department of Education to reverse their redefinition of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) that led to 138 students losing the program this year. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Advocates call redefinition of IEPs “hugely concerning,” call for reversal

At least 138 students were moved off the learning plans this year

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

The Fish Lake area viewed from the top of Haeckel Hill on Sept. 11, 2018. The Yukon government and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced they are in the beginning stages of a local area planning process for the area. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local area planning for Fish Lake announced

The Government of Yukon and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced in… Continue reading

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

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Fire damage, photographed on Jan. 11, to a downtown apartment building which occurred late in the evening on Jan. 8. Zander Firth, 20, from Inuvik, was charged with the arson and is facing several other charges following his Jan. 12 court appearance. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
More charges for arson suspect

The Inuvik man charged in relation to the fire at Ryder Apartments… Continue reading

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

Most Read