It has been three years since Yukoners elected a 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 three 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 last 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.
Improving the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter
Poverty and homelessness are real problems in our territory that we need to address together as a community. Our Liberal Caucus supports the government’s work to provide better support for the most vulnerable Yukoners. Together with the Safe at Home working group, the government recently introduced new services to the Emergency Shelter that will help to meet the needs of facility guests while addressing concerns of residents and business owners in downtown Whitehorse. An Emergency Medical Services paramedic is now stationed at the facility 10 hours a day, seven days a week, and two mental health positions have been added to the facility, along with a social worker and outreach worker. Our Liberal Caucus will continue to work with community partners to find collaborative solutions that support Yukoners in need.
Increased senior’s housing and long term care
The Whistle Bend Place Long Term Care Facility officially opened on September 12, 2018. The new state-of-the-art care home is helping our territory meet the needs of our aging population. In the fall of 2019, two new units opened at Whistle Bend Place: Porcupine River House includes 24 additional beds and Wind River House, a new community hospice house, includes 12 hospice, palliative care and end-of-life care beds and 6 long-term care beds. Along with the addition of 10 beds at the Thomson Centre in 2018, Whistle Bend Place continues to ease 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.
Expansion of early learning and child care programs
Our Liberal Caucus was pleased to see that the government is planning to introduce early kindergarten – or K4 – in all rural Yukon schools and looking at future implementation in Whitehorse. In 2018, the Direct Operating Grant was increased for the first time in a decade. Early learning and child care centers are benefiting 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 to support Yukon families.
Nurse practitioner in Mayo
Since June 2019, a nurse practitioner has been working full-time at the community health centre in the Village of Mayo. The health centre became the first in Yukon to be staffed by a nurse practitioner, who joined a team of three nurses already in place and has the support of visiting physicians who are in the community on a rotational basis.
Health professionals receive training in transgender healthcare
Yukon health professionals, including physicians, have received education and training to provide compassionate and culturally sensitive transgender care in Whitehorse. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) course was facilitated by physicians specializing in transgender health. Yukon is one of only two jurisdictions in Canada that have provided WPATH training to health care specialists, and the first to provide it at no cost to participants. Our Liberal Caucus strongly supports the government’s efforts to improve the delivery of health-care services to Yukon’s LGBTQ2S+ community as part of a broader effort to make Yukon more inclusive.
New Liquor Act
This fall the Yukon Legislative Assembly passed a new Liquor Act, a modernized law that balances social responsibility with economic opportunities. Our Liberal Caucus supports efforts to reduce alcohol-related harm throughout the territory and support responsible consumption. Replacing the current 40-year-old Liquor Act will improve how responsible alcohol sales, service and consumption in the territory are managed. We also welcome new economic opportunities for Yukon’s growing number of local producers and licensees.
Tobacco and Vaping in Yukon
A new Tobacco and Vaping Products Control and Regulation Act was passed in fall 2019 that introduces rules around the sale, use and promotion of vaping products in line with tobacco products. It will also raise the minimum legal age for access to tobacco and vaping products to 19 years old. Our Liberal Caucus is pleased to see these measures introduced to protect the health of all Yukoners, especially youth, and discourage the use of tobacco and vaping products.
Leading Canada in corrections reforms
With the passing of the Act to Amend the Corrections Act, 2009, Yukon is leading the country when it comes to corrections reforms and the use of segregation. Following up on the recommendations from the Independent Inspection of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre by Mr. David Loukidelis, the amendments will change the use of segregation and restrictive confinement in Yukon’s corrections systems and align it with the Mandela Rules, internationally accepted best practices for solitary confinement.
New outreach van for Blood Ties Four Directions
Blood Ties Four Directions recently received $50,000 to purchase and equip a new outreach van in partnership with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Society Yukon and the Kwanlin Dün Health Centre. The new van will allow Blood Ties to offer mobile fentanyl testing and be outfitted to provide enhanced supports to vulnerable Yukoners. Our Liberal Caucus is pleased to see the government supporting these community organizations that provide critical services to Yukoners.
Investments to Build Healthy Communities
Dawson Airport runway paved
True to its word, the government paved the Dawson Airport runway. A new maintenance facility was also built to protect equipment to support maintenance of the new runway. Our Liberal Caucus is excited to see the completion of this work that will enhance tourism, increase economic opportunities and improve community security in the Klondike for years to come.
Mayo airport certification
Following millions of dollars of upgrades, the Mayo aerodrome received airport certification from Transport Canada in November 2019. The certification will allow for scheduled air service in the region, increasing travel options for Mayo citizens, travelers and industry. With new runway lighting scheduled to be installed in 2020-21, Yukon’s newest airport will allow night use for all users and further support economic growth in the heart of the territory. Our Liberal Caucus is pleased to see the government making historic investments to upgrade Yukon’s aviation infrastructure.
New Nares River (Naataase Héen) Bridge
The new Nares River (Naataase Héen) Bridge opened this November in Carcross. The new bridge will meet future traffic demands along the South Klondike Highway better than the current bridge, which was built nearly 50 years ago. We are pleased to see the completion of the first project to use the government’s new value-based procurement method, which includes criteria for northern experience and knowledge and First Nation participation. Our Liberal Caucus supports the government’s work to improve procurement and invest in infrastructure projects that support economic growth in the territory.
$60 Million housing agreement
This year, Minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation Pauline Frost signed a 10-year housing agreement with the Government of Canada that will see nearly $60 million invested to address community housing needs. The agreement was first signed under Canada’s National Housing Strategy and will ensure the government can provide safe, affordable and accessible homes that meet the needs of Yukoners.
New housing in Yukon
Over the past two years, government investment in housing programs and commitments to housing development supported over 400 homes. This includes 61 units of housing with services, 216 new, repaired, or renovated affordable rental homes, 14 home ownership options for Yukoners, and over 200 homes across the housing continuum though the Housing Initiatives Fund. The government has supported new affordable housing units in Dawson City, tiny homes in Haines Junction, staff housing in Ross River, accessible seniors housing in Carmacks, and accessible housing in Whitehorse. Our Liberal Caucus is also pleased to see the government supporting the Challenge Disability Resource Group with their Cornerstone affordable housing project in Whitehorse.
Major projects in Old Crow
The government has announced plans for a number of exciting projects in Old Crow. A new health and wellness centre will replace the current, nearly 50-year-old health centre and introduce a collaborative care model to better meet the needs of residents. A 10-unit community housing project is also in the works – a first for Old Crow – that will help to address community housing needs. Additionally, a new community centre is being planned that will provide a welcome space for the community to gather to celebrate and share cultural activities. A winter road to Old Crow is being planned for 2021 to allow for materials to be transported to the community.
Whistle Bend School in the works
Plans are afoot for a new elementary school in Whistle Bend to support Whitehorse’s newest neighbourhood. This will be the first new elementary school in Whitehorse in over 25 years. Our Liberal Caucus is pleased to see the government working together with the Whistle Bend Community Association, the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council, Kwanlin Dün First Nation and the City of Whitehorse on this project to make sure it meets the needs of the community.
French First Language High School
Construction is underway on the new French first language high school in Whitehorse. Our Liberal Caucus was pleased to see the design-build contract awarded to Ketza Construction, a Whitehorse based company. This is another sign that the government’s new value-drive procurement process is providing more opportunities for local businesses and ensuring more government spending stays in the territory. We are also pleased to see the government working together with the Commission scolaire francophone du Yukon to ensure this project meets the needs of the territory’s Francophone community.
Ross River Suspension Bridge rebuilt and reopened
The Ross River Suspension Bridge reopened in 2018 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. Municipal funding increased by $700,000 in 2018-19 and is projected to continue to increase until 2022-23. Ensuring predictable funding helps communities plan effectively to meet the needs of resident Yukoners
Strong Relationships with First Nations
Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan finalized
After nearly 15 years, the Yukon government, First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation and the Gwich’in Tribal Council finalized the Peel Watershed Regional Land Use Plan. Our Liberal Caucus is extremely pleased to see this long and costly chapter in Yukon history come to a close. We strongly support the respectful government-to-government relationships between the government and First Nations that have allowed for this historic achievement. We also look forward to getting land use planning back on track in the Yukon and are pleased to see the formation of the Dawson Regional Land Use Planning Commission.
Supporting First Nations Education
Yukon’s Department of Education has a new Assistant Deputy Minister of First Nations Initiatives. The senior-level position was developed in together with the Council of Yukon First Nations’ Chiefs’ Committee on Education. Creation of the position responds to Call to Action #62 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. The government also recently signed an education agreement with the Kwanlin Dün First Nation to support their learners and education initiatives. We commend the government’s collaboration with Yukon First Nations to integrate First Nations content into Yukon’s education system and improve education outcomes for all Yukon students.
Advancing Indigenous Tourism
Minister of Tourism and Culture Jeanie Dendys signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada and the Yukon First Nations Culture & Tourism Association to support Indigenous tourism in Yukon. Our Liberal Caucus is pleased to see the government working in partnership with First Nations organizations to support the growth and development of Indigenous tourism in Yukon. This year the government supported the 3rd Advancing Indigenous Tourism Conference focused on growing opportunities in the territory, where Senator Murray Sinclair was a keynote speaker.
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. Positive outcomes include a 2018 agreement clarifying how resource royalties are shared under Chapter 23 of the Final Agreements, a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on heritage management, and collaboration on government’s new representative public service plan, which aims to increase representation of First Nation employees in the public service.
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. Meeting with federal Ministers along side Yukon First Nations Chiefs reflects respectful government-to-government relationships and allows leaders to present a unified voice for the benefit of all Yukoners.
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. In 2019, as part of the celebrations the newly restored BC Centennial Totem Pole was unveiled at the Yukon government Main Administration Building. 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 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. The plan join others, such as the Van Tat K’atr’anahtii (Old Crow Flats) management plan and the Fort Selkirk preservation plan.
Ch’ihilii Chìk Habitat Protection Area created
Together with the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation and the North Yukon Renewable Resources Council, the government recently signed the Ch’ihilii Chìk Habitat Protection Area Management Plan. The plan will protect an area with cultural and economic importance that has been used by the Gwich’in people for generations, located southeast of Old Crow. Special management of the area was recommended in the 2009 North Yukon Regional Land Use Plan.
Final Report of National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
This year the final report of the National Inquiry in Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was released. The Yukon Advisory Committee, including family representatives, Indigenous women’s groups, Yukon First Nations, and government officials, supported the work of the National Inquiry. Our Liberal Caucus is proud of the leadership shown by the Yukon Advisory Committee during this difficult and important process. We are also pleased to see government providing funding for Yukon based organizations to prevent violence against Indigenous women and girls. This follows over $1.6 million in funding announced in 2018 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.
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 in 2018 – 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 is helping to diversify the economy by building local capacity in new and existing businesses while expanding investment opportunities in the territory.
Yukon Tourism Development Strategy for sustainable growth
$875,000 is being provided to implement Yukon’s new tourism development strategy, Sustainable Tourism. Our Path. Our Future. The strategy was developed by a steering committee of industry experts following extensive engagement with Yukoners. Funding will go towards priority actions in the strategy, which lays out a 10-year plan to expand tourism in a way that balances the economic, environmental and social priorities of Yukoners.
Increase to minimum wage
This year the government increased Yukon’s minimum wage to $12.71 per hour, an increase of $1.20. We believe this will help support lower income Yukoners, and help to attract and retain workers in sectors that are experience staffing challenges. Our Liberal Caucus is pleased to see the government working with the Employment Standards Board to look into the viability of additional increases going forward.
Improving government procurement
This year the government completed a comprehensive overhaul of government procurement. Our Liberal Caucus believes procurement is a vital part of building a stronger economy and we support the government’s efforts to modernize procurement to better support Yukon businesses and First Nations. Changes to date have addressed long-standing vendor concerns and we are pleased that the government will continue to work to improve procurement going forward.
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.
Draft climate change strategy
The Yukon government has released Our Clean Future, its draft strategy on climate change, energy and green economy for public feedback. This is a big step forward in addressing climate change in Yukon. The draft strategy was developed in collaboration with Yukon First Nations, municipalities, and transboundary Indigenous groups. It proposes 26 objectives and 142 actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Yukon while meeting increasing energy demands and adapting to the impacts of climate change. Read the draft strategy and have your say in Our Clean Future.
Mineral Development Strategy engagement underway
A new independent panel is conducting an inclusive engagement process involving First Nations, industry, stakeholders and interested Yukoners to determine how to enhance Yukon’s mineral investment climate while respecting the rights and traditions of Yukon First Nations, upholding environmental standards and improving regulatory certainty. Yukoners can participate in the process online.
New open data portal
A new open data portal launched this year providing access to government information for use by the public. A variety of data continues to be added to the portal, which allows interested individuals to access information for use in innovative ways, including to create new products or services. Our Liberal Caucus supports this effort to increase public transparency and data-driven decision making, fostering innovation, education and economic development in the territory.
Improving the Lives of Yukoners
Supporting LGBTQ2S+ Yukoners
Since taking office in 2016, our Liberal Caucus has taken a multifaceted approach to create a more inclusive Yukon for LGBTQ2S+ citizens. We are very pleased that the government plans to ban conversion therapy in the territory. Additionally, this year All Genders Yukon Society was provided with funding to improve counselling services for transgender, two-spirit, non-binary individuals and their partners. The Equality of Spouses Statute Law Amendment Act 2018 updated several existing laws to include language that is inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and Two-Spirit plus Yukoners, and repealed the Married Women’s Property Act. The Gender Diversity and Related Amendments Act enabled promotion gender diversity on boards and committees, and extended 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 made it illegal to discriminate against a person on the grounds of gender identity and gender expression, and removed the requirement for sex reassignment surgery before a person can change the sex on their birth registration. 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 fines for unsafe driving, distracted driving and speeding
This year the government increased fines and demerits for unsafe driving, including failing to stop for a school bus and passing a bus illegally. The fines were increased to the maximum allowable amount under the current Motor Vehicles Act. This follows last year’s increase to fines for distracted driving and speeding offences, which also increased to the maximum amount permitted under the Motor Vehicles Act. Our Liberal Caucus will continue to work with our community partners to increase road safety across the territory for the benefit of all Yukoners. We are pleased that the government is re-writing the territory’s outdated Motor Vehicles Act to better meet the needs of a modern Yukon.
Yukon’s first Housing First residence
Our Liberal Caucus was very excited to see the Housing First residence officially open in Whitehorse. This is the first project of its kind in Yukon history and it serves a critical need in our community. This 16-unit residence will provide homeless and vulnerable Yukoners with immediate access to housing without any preconditions, such as sobriety or treatment. This marks a major shift in the way Yukon provides housing to the most vulnerable people in our community. Our Liberal Caucus will continue to work with our partners to increase affordable and accessible housing options for Yukoners.
Private retail cannabis sector established
The Yukon has turned out to be a model example in Canada for the implementation of legal cannabis. Creation of an effective licencing regime has led to the opening of private retail cannabis stores in Whitehorse and Dawson City. Following through on it’s plan, the government closed the Cannabis Yukon retail store exactly one year after its opening. The temporary operation turned a modest profit of roughly $200,000, in stark contrast to the over $40 million lost so far in Ontario. Our Liberal Caucus supports the legalization of cannabis in a way that displaces the illegal market and prioritizes public health and harm reduction. We are excited to see the private sector continue to grow in the territory.
Returning carbon pricing revenues to Yukoners’ pockets
We have delivered on our commitment to return all carbon pricing revenues to Yukoners. Yukon residents received their first carbon rebates this October, with more coming in 2020. Our Liberal Caucus believes in a Yukon that balances environmental and economic needs with smart policy that reduces emissions and steers investment to green technology. We hear Yukoners and Canadians loud and clear in their support for carbon pricing and efforts to address climate change.
These are just some of the highlights of our time in office so far. Stay tuned to yukonliberalcaucus.ca for news, information and announcements going forward. And be sure to check out our Instagram @yukonliberalcaucus to see what your Liberal MLAs have been up to.