It has been two years since Yukoners elected a Yukon Liberal majority government. Our Liberal Caucus was sworn into office on Dec. 3, 2016 and we remain committed to our enduring priorities:
A people-centered approach to wellness helps Yukoners thrive
Strategic investments build healthy, vibrant, sustainable communities
Strong government-to-government relationships with First Nations foster reconciliation
A diverse, growing economy provides good jobs for Yukoners in an environmentally-responsible way
These priorities guide our decision making and help us stay focused on delivering results that improve the lives of Yukoners. Our Liberal Caucus is proud of what we have accomplished over the last two years and we wanted to highlight some of the important work of your Liberal MLAs.
A people-centered approach to wellness
4 new Community Mental Wellness and Substance Use Hubs
To improve service delivery in Yukon communities, four new Mental Wellness and Substance Use Hubs opened this year in Watson Lake, Dawson City, Carmacks and Haines Junction. The new hubs integrate Alcohol and Drug Services, Child and Adolescent Therapeutic Services, and Mental Health Services into a single point-of-access, giving communities more timely and consistent access to the services they need. The mental health and wellness of Yukoners is a priority of our Liberal Caucus, and we will continue to improve the delivery of services across the territory.
Presumptive coverage of PTSD for emergency response workers
In 2017, a new law established presumptive coverage of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for emergency response workers in Yukon. It also allows for the creation of regulations aimed at preventing psychological injuries such as PTSD in the workplace. Emergency response workers provide invaluable service to Yukoners when they need it most and it’s critical that we support them and protect their mental health. Presumptive coverage of PTSD and preventative measures around psychological injuries at work benefit both workers and employers in the Yukon.
Universal coverage of abortion medication Mifegymiso
This fall Health and Social Services Minister Pauline Frost announced that the Yukon government is now offering universal coverage of Mifegymiso, the medication used for medical abortions. Mifegymiso has maintained an outstanding safety record throughout the world for 30 years and provides a safe and accessible alternative to surgical abortion. Offering Mifegymiso at no cost is one way to ensure that Yukon women can access the best possible care for their sexual and reproductive health.
Opening of Whistle Bend Place Long Term Care Facility
The Whistle Bend Place Long Term Care Facility officially opened on September 12. This new state-of-the-art care home will help our territory meet the needs of our aging population. Along with the addition of 10 new beds at the Thomson Centre, the opening of Whistle Bend Place is easing bed pressures at the Whitehorse General Hospital. Our Liberal Caucus delivered on our commitment to keep Whistle Bend Place to 150 beds and we are proud that the project was completed on time and on budget. This new facility is just one part of our multifaceted approach to wellness and our commitment to helping Yukoners age in place.
$30 Million more to improve Yukon’s Health Care system
This summer Minister Frost signed a new bilateral agreement with the Government of Canada that will see over $30 million in additional funding for health care in the Yukon. This funding will help to improve health care services across the territory that promote mental wellness, aging in place and collaborative care. There is also additional funding for medical travel to help rural Yukoners receive the care they need.
Investments to Build Healthy Communities
123 new affordable homes through the Housing Initiatives Fund
The new $3.6 million Housing Initiatives Fund announced earlier this year supports the development of new affordable housing units in the territory through rent supplements or the construction of new units. 10 projects have been selected from the first intake that will see a total of 123 new affordable housing units in six Yukon communities over the next 18 months. These projects will create more affordable housing options for Yukoners and help to ease the housing shortage across the territory. The next intake will open in January 2019.
Increased funding for early learning and child care programs
The Direct Operating Grant has been increased for the first time in a decade. Early learning and child care centres are benefitting from a 14.5% increase in funding, and rural programs are receiving an additional 20% increase. Our Liberal Caucus will continue to ensure Yukon children have access to affordable early learning and child care.
Ross River Suspension Bridge rebuilt and reopened
The Ross River Suspension Bridge reopened this past spring after being rebuilt with the help of over $3 million from the Governments of Yukon and Canada. Our Liberal Caucus recognizes the significant value of the bridge to people of Ross River. We are pleased to see the long-awaited repairs completed to restore this vital piece of community infrastructure.
More money for municipalities to meet the needs of residents
The Comprehensive Municipal Grant has been updated to provide predictable, sustainable funding to Yukon communities over the next five years. Municipal funding will increase by $700,000 in 2018-19, and is projected to increase further in the coming years. Ensuring predictable funding helps communities plan effectively to meet the needs of resident Yukoners.
New energy efficient recreation centre in Carmacks
Minister of Community Services John Streicker played ball hockey with kids to mark the opening of a new multi-use recreation centre in Carmacks this fall. The project was jointly funded by the Governments of Yukon and Canada and will provide a modern venue for sports and recreation in the community to promote healthy, active lifestyles. The venue can also accommodate concerts and other community events that will bring visitors to Carmacks and support the local economy.
Strong Relationships with First Nations
Consultation on Final Recommended Plan for Peel Watershed
One year after the Supreme Court of Canada rendered its decision, consultations are underway on the Final Recommended Plan for the Peel Watershed. The Government of Yukon, First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation and the Gwich’in Tribal Council are working together to finalize and implement the plan. Our Liberal Caucus is pleased to see this long and costly process coming to a close and we look forward to getting land use planning back on track in the Yukon.
Revitalized Yukon Forum to collaborate on shared priorities
Since taking office in 2016, we have delivered on our commitment to hold four Yukon Forum meetings per year. The meetings are an excellent opportunity for the government and Yukon First Nations to foster reconciliation, develop strong government‐to‐government relations and collaborate on shared priorities. The 2017 Joint Priority Action Plan continues to guide the cooperative work of the Forum, which saw an agreement reached earlier this year clarifying how resource royalties are shared under Chapter 23 of the Final Agreements.
Annual meetings with First Nations Chiefs and federal Ministers
Since taking office in 2016, Premier Silver has invited Yukon First Nations chiefs to join him and his Ministers in Ottawa for Yukon Days, a series of high-level meetings with the Government of Canada along with a reception to highlight Yukon in the nation’s capital. This new, collaborative approach ensures a unified voice is presented to the federal government on joint priority areas as identified through the Yukon Forum.
Established National Aboriginal Day as statutory holiday
June 21 is National Aboriginal Day, an opportunity to celebrate Indigenous peoples’ history, culture, traditions and contributions to the Yukon and the rest of Canada. In 2017, the Yukon government recognized National Aboriginal Day as a statutory holiday in the Yukon. Our Liberal Caucus supports this progressive step towards reconciliation and a modern Yukon filled with vibrant, healthy communities, built on diversity and inclusion.
Ddhaw Ghro Habitat Protection Area management plan signed
The Selkirk First Nation, First Nation of Na-cho Nyäk Dun and the Yukon government recently signed the management plan for the Ddhaw Ghro Habitat Protection Area, an environmentally and culturally rich area of that is important to the Northern Tutchone people. The joint management plan took over 17 years to negotiate and will ensure the area is protected for the benefit of present and future generations.
Growing the economy responsibly
$1.9 Million for NorthLight Innovation – the first hub north of 60
The first innovation hub north of 60 opened in Whitehorse this fall – NorthLight Innovation. The Yukon government contributed $1.9 million to the project, which provides a space for local innovators, entrepreneurs and professionals to collaborate and share their knowledge and skills. Our Liberal Caucus believes this is a great investment that will diversify the economy by building local capacity in new and existing businesses while expanding investment opportunities in the territory.
New fibre optic line to improve telecommunications
Work is underway to build a new fibre network line connecting Dawson City to Inuvik, NWT. The northern connection will provide Yukoners with more reliable internet service and significantly reduce the risk of internet service interruptions in the territory. Our Liberal Caucus believes reliable telecommunications are vital to diversifying Yukon’s economy, attracting increased investment in the territory, and creating jobs and other opportunities for Yukoners.
Five-Year Capital Plan to maximize local economic benefits
The 2018-19 Budget includes Yukon’s first ever Five-Year Capital Plan highlighting the government’s priority infrastructure projects. It identifies more than 70 projects ranging from schools, housing projects and health centres to roads, bridges and information technology infrastructure that will meet the needs of Yukoners going forward. The Five-Year Capital Plan was a commitment to Yukoners and our Liberal Caucus is happy to deliver on it. A more transparent capital planning process helps reduce barriers to First Nations and local businesses securing government contracts, maximizing the local economic benefit of government procurement.
Yukon Tourism Development Strategy to grow the industry
A new vision for how to grow Yukon’s tourism industry sustainably was presented to the Yukon government this fall. The strategy – Sustainable Tourism. Our Path. Our Future. – was developed by a steering committee of industry experts following extensive engagement with Yukoners. Building on the existing strengths of Yukon’s tourism industry, the strategy outlines a 10-year plan to expand tourism in a way that balances the economic, environmental and social priorities of Yukoners.
Lowered small business and corporate tax rates
Our Liberal Caucus is committed to diversifying and growing our economy and creating good jobs. In 2017 the small business tax rate was lowered from 3% to 2%, and the corporate tax rate was lowered from 15% to 12% to boost the territory’s competitiveness and help local businesses. Lower tax rates support promote economic growth and are helping to attract new investment in the territory.
Improving the Lives of Yukoners
Updating laws to be more inclusive of LGBTQ2S+ Yukoners
Since taking office in 2016, our Liberal Caucus has taken a multifaceted approach to create a more inclusive Yukon for LGBTQ2S+ citizens. The Equality of Spouses Statute Law Amendment Act 2018 updates several existing laws to include language that is inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and Two-Spirit plus Yukoners, and repeals the Married Women’s Property Act. The Gender Diversity and Related Amendments Act promotes gender diversity on boards and committees, and extends the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Amendments to the Human Rights Act and the Vital Statistics Act make it illegal to discriminate against a person on the grounds of gender identity and gender expression, and remove the requirement for sex reassignment surgery before a person can change the sex on their birth registration. The Yukon government is also actively engaging with LGBTQ2S+ Yukoners to help make service and program delivery more inclusive and non-discriminatory. Our Liberal Caucus has a vision of healthy, vibrant communities where Yukoners feel safe, included and able to live their best lives. Supporting greater inclusion and equality of LGBTQ2S+ Yukoners in our community is an important step toward realizing this vision.
Increased funding for Indigenous women’s organizations
This fall Minister responsible for the Women’s Directorate Jeanie Dendys and Canada’s Minister of Status of Women Maryam Monsef announced a total of over $1.6 million in funding for three women’s organizations that provide critical advocacy, support and leadership that breaks down barriers and empowers Yukon Indigenous women and girls: the Whitehorse Aboriginal Women’s Circle, the Yukon Aboriginal Women’s Circle and the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society. Our Liberal Caucus is pleased to see these organizations receive stable, flexible funding to help them meet the needs of Indigenous women and girls across the territory.
Increased fines for distracted driving and speeding
This spring the Yukon government increased the fines for distracted driving and speeding offences to the maximum currently permitted under the Motor Vehicles Act. Distracted driving, such as using a cell phone while driving, will now result in a $500 fine. The Yukon Legislative Assembly unanimously supported a motion in the spring of 2017 calling for increased fines for distracted driving. Our Liberal Caucus will continue to work with our community partners to increase road safety across the territory for the benefit of all Yukoners.
New Housing First project to provide barrier-free housing
Yukon’s first ever Housing First residence is currently under construction in Whitehorse. The 16-unit housing project will offer affordable, low-barrier permanent housing to the most vulnerable Yukoners who require ongoing support. This initiative is about putting people in a safe, secure housing where there are no pre-conditions, such as sobriety, to be met. Once in their home, residents will be offered the supports and services they require based on individual need. Our Liberal Caucus will continue to work with our partners to increase affordable and accessible housing options for Yukoners.
Legalized cannabis to displace illicit market and protect public health
Our liberal Caucus supports the legalization of cannabis in a way that displaces the illegal market and prioritizes public health and harm reduction. Since October 17, Yukoners have enjoyed safe, controlled access to cannabis through an interim government store in Whitehorse and an e-commerce store. Once regulations and licensing are in place, our Liberal Caucus looks forward to the private sector opening retail sales in 2019.