The spring session was marked by an incredible amount of progress on behalf of Yukoners. The 2019-20 Budget demonstrates careful consideration and sound financial management by taking a long-term view on where our territory is headed.
Yukon now has legislation that delivers on our commitment to rebate all 100% of carbon revenue collected by the federal government to Yukoners. New legislation allows substitute teachers to join the Yukon Employees’ Union as members of the bargaining unit, which was a commitment in the recent negotiations with the Yukon Teachers’ Association. Additional legislation provides Yukon workers with more entitlements to leave in certain circumstances like the birth or adoption of a child, or caring for an ill family member.
The 2019-20 Budget is focused on housing, health and education to meet the needs of our growing territory. Highlights from the 2019-20 Budget include:
- $19 million to develop building lots in Whitehorse and rural communities to ease housing pressure;
- $3.6 million for the Housing Initiatives Fund to increase rental housing options;
- $80.6 million for continuing care, home care, palliative care and respite care to support our aging population;
- $58.1 million for mental wellness and substance use programs, disability services and income support to help Yukoners in need;
- $19 million to build the new French First Language Secondary School; and
- $3 million to build two portable classrooms to meet the needs of Yukon’s students.
The 2019-20 Budget includes a Five-Year Capital Plan for the second year in a row. The Five-Year Plan makes government capital spending more transparent and helps industry and local contractors plan and prepare for upcoming construction projects across the territory.
Learn more about the 2019-20 Budget here.
Expanding housing options
Our Liberal Caucus is proud to support investments and partnerships that increase the amount of housing options for Yukoners. We know housing pressures are growing due to strong economic growth and increasing population continues to create the territory.
This year’s Budget includes $3.6 million for the Housing Initiatives Fund. The successful 2018 intake of the Fund is supporting the construction of 110 new affordable housing units with 10 different partners throughout Yukon. We look forward to the results of the 2019 intake. Learn more about the Housing Initiatives Fund here.
The Yukon government is also partnering with the City of Whitehorse to make residential parcels and individual lots in the municipality available for private development. Our Liberal Caucus believes increasing lot availability and encouraging private sector development can help create housing solutions for Yukoners and increase economic opportunities for Yukon-owned businesses. Learn more about the new housing lots here.
Minister Pauline Frost recently announced planning is underway for a new multi-unit mixed income housing project in Whitehorse. Depending on design details, the project could include up to 48 housing units that will provide safe and affordable homes for Yukoners and their families. The Yukon Housing Corporation is working together with its community housing partners to advance the project as part of the implementation of the Housing Action Plan for Yukon. Learn more about the project here.
Meeting Yukon’s health care needs
Several exciting health care initiatives were announced during the spring sitting, including a new health and wellness centre being planned for Old Crow to replace its current health centre. The Government of Yukon is working together with the Government of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation to plan for a collaborative care model to better meet the needs of the community. As part of the project, a winter road to Old Crow is planned for 2021. Learn more about the project here.
Starting June 1, a full-time nurse practitioner will join the health care team at the health centre in Mayo. The addition of a nurse practitioner will allow the health care team to provide more comprehensive care in the Village of Mayo, reduce the workload of visiting physicians and reduce wait times for clients in the community. Learn more about the new position here.
Approximately 1 out of every 3 dollars spent by the Yukon government goes towards health care. To help assess cost drivers and improve service delivery, Minister Pauline Frost struck an independent expert panel to review health care services in the territory. Our Liberal Caucus supports the government’s comprehensive review of Yukon’s health care system to ensure it meets the needs of Yukoners now and in the future. The scope of the review was recently released and the panel is scheduled to provide a final report in March 2020 after engaging with Yukoners, health care partners and stakeholders. Learn more about the review here.
Supporting lifelong learning in the Yukon
In response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Action # 62, the government recently created a new Assistant Deputy Minister of First Nations Initiatives within the Department of Education. Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee was proud to announce that Lori Duncan, a member of the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council, has accepted the new role following a selection process undertaken by the government in partnership with the Yukon Chiefs Committee on Education. Learn more about the new position here.
This spring the government announced that it has approved the new Bachelor of Business Administration degree program at Yukon College. This is the second made-in-Yukon degree to be offered at the College following the Bachelor of Indigenous Governance degree that launched in 2018. Our Liberal Caucus supports Yukon College’s transition to become the first university north of 60, expanding the educational opportunities available to Yukoners here in the territory. Learn more about the College’s new degree here.
Earlier this year, the government and the Yukon Teachers’ Association (YTA) ratified a new collective agreement that meets the needs of Yukon’s educators and students. The agreement included the government making amendments to the Education Labour Relations Act to enable substitutes to be included in the YTA bargaining unit. The government delivered on this commitment in the spring sitting by passing the Act to Amend the Education Labour Relations Act. Learn more about the new collective agreement here.
Yukon’s growing population means there are more students pursuing education in our territory. This year, the government is spending more than $30 million in capital funding for school projects to ensure Yukon’s education system continues to meet the needs of students into the future. This includes:
- $1.6 million to plan for a new elementary school in the Whistle Bend neighbourhood – the first new elementary school built in Whitehorse in 27 years;
- $3 million to build and renovate portable classrooms; and
- $19 million to start construction of the French First Language Secondary School.
Our Liberal Caucus is proud to support investments that increase capacity to meet the needs of Yukon’s growing student population. Learn more about these capital investments here.
Improving Yukon’s transportation networks
The government continues to make major investments in Yukon’s transportation network to make it more reliable and drive economic growth. This includes:
- $8.6 million to continue work on the Yukon Resource Gateway project;
- $4 million for Alaska Highway safety improvements;
- $7.2 million to complete construction of the Nares River Bridge; and
- $3.1 million to replace the Fox Creek Bridge.
Minister Richard Mostyn also recently announced a major change to the way government manages the territory’s road network. The new Roadway Maintenance Improvement program will prioritize road safety and provide Yukoners with more certainty about the quality, quantity and frequency of highway and roadside maintenance and upkeep. Learn more about the new program here.
Road safety is paramount for all Yukoners, especially Yukon students and the dedicated individuals who help them achieve their learning goals. Our Liberal Caucus shares the concern of parents, educators and school staff around recent stories of unsafe driving around Yukon school buses. We are pleased to confirm the government recently increased the fines and demerits for unsafe driving behavior around school buses to the maximum allowable under the Motor Vehicles Act. Learn more about the new penalties here. Last year the government also increased the fines for distracted driving and speeding to the maximum allowable under the Motor Vehicles Act. Our Liberal caucus supports these increased fines and urges all Yukoners to respect the rules of the road and drive responsibly at all times.
In addition to investing millions of dollars in infrastructure to keep Yukon’s roads safe and efficient, the government has announced that it is writing a new Motor Vehicles Act. Our Liberal Caucus is committed to improving road safety for all Yukoners, from pedestrians to emergency personnel. Find out when open houses are taking place and fill out the online survey here.
Beyond improving the territory’s road network, our Liberal Government is pleased to see government investing in Yukon’s aviation infrastructure as well, after several years of neglect. The government is delivering on its commitment to pave the Dawson runway this year. It recently announced the airport will be closed for paving from May 19 – May 26, weather permitting. Learn more about the paving work here.
Minister Mostyn also announced a $5 million investment in upgrades to the Mayo aerodrome to enable government to apply to Transport Canada to certify it as an airport. This work and approval will allow the airport to support scheduled service on a long-term basis, in anticipation of continued resource development in the area. Supporting economic development opportunities throughout Yukon is a priority of our Liberal Caucus and we look forward to seeing the Mayo aerodrome certified as an airport.
Our Liberal Caucus is proud to be delivering on our commitment to strike a non-partisan, independent commission to engage Yukoners on possible options for territorial electoral reform and make recommendations to government. We committed to working in cooperation with all political parties in the Yukon Legislative Assembly to strike a non-partisan commission and we continue to honour that commitment. The Commission will be fully independent and once formed, any recommendations on how to proceed will come from the Commission. Learn more about the commission here.
Type 1 Diabetes
Our Liberal Caucus recognizes that type 1 diabetes can be a difficult condition for Yukoners to manage, especially young Yukoners. Yukon families dealing with type 1 diabetes are under considerable pressure both to monitor and properly manage the insulin levels of their family members, and also to cover the costs of doing so. We want to help these Yukoners and Yukon families and ease the burden of this condition so that they can live healthy, flourishing lives.
Last year the government introduced the Type 1 Diabetes Continuous Glucose Monitoring pilot program to cover the costs of Continuous Glucose Monitoring devices for Yukoners up to age 25. There are currently nine children and six young adults enrolled in the pilot program. We believe the pilot program will provide government with useful information about how we can best support Yukoners with type 1 diabetes.
During the spring sitting, our Liberal Caucus supported a motion urging the government to consider permanent funding for continuous glucose monitors to include all Yukoners with type 1 diabetes. We are committed to a people-centered approach that helps Yukoners thrive. The pilot program will provide government with the first-hand data it needs to make an evidence-based decision about how best to serve Yukoners who suffer from type 1 diabetes, including the possibility of permanent funding for Continuous Glucose Monitoring.