This week was one of the tougher and more chaotic weeks in recent Yukon history, as fears of COVID-19 spread faster than the news could keep up.
Rest assured that your Yukon Liberal Caucus has been working hard with our partners to ensure that Yukon is fully prepared to handle any health emergency that comes our way. As of today, there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Yukon and the risk of infection in the territory remains low.
We are following guidance from Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and staying in constant communication with all of our partners – locally and nationally – to ensure we are prepared for this virus if it appears in the territory.
Find up to date information about COVID-19 in Yukon here.
Surplus budget supports all Yukoners
To kick off the spring sitting of the Legislative Assembly, Premier Sandy Silver tabled a surplus budget that cuts taxes and invests in communities.
The proposed 2020-21 budget includes major funding for community infrastructure, health, housing and education, all while posting a $4.1 million surplus.
Our Liberal Caucus promised Yukoners we would return to surplus, and we are doing so one year ahead of schedule.
The total proposed budget is $1.62 billion, made up of $1.25 billion in operations and maintenance and $370 million in capital spending.
Our government has been working hard to put Yukon’s finances on a sustainable path and create an environment for Yukon’s people and economy to thrive. Returning to a surplus reflects our commitment to sound fiscal management and making responsible financial decisions for the benefit of all Yukoners. This budget builds on our recent progress and once again puts Yukoners first.Premier and Minister of Finance Sandy Silver
Find more information about the 2020-21 Budget
Small business tax cut
Our Liberal caucus is proud to support the diverse needs of Yukoners. Premier Sandy Silver tabled the Budget Measures Implementation Act, 2020 this past week. It proposes to reduce the small business tax rate from 2% to 0%. This change is expected to save Yukon businesses approximately $2 million per year.
The Bill also proposes to expand eligibility for the Business Investment Tax Credit to encourage investment in Yukon businesses like Air North.
Additionally, proposed income tax changes would save Yukoners roughly $2.4 million in taxes per year and up to $9.6 million in total by 2023.
Our government is working hard to make life more affordable for Yukoners. This Bill delivers on two significant commitments we made to Yukon businesses and puts more money in the pockets of those who need it most. Cutting taxes and supporting investment in local businesses will encourage a stronger private sector and generate new economic opportunities in our territory.Premier and Minister of Finance Sandy Silver
Yukon ends seasonal time change
Yukoners changed their clocks for the last time on Sunday, March 8.
Yukon will now remain on Pacific Daylight Saving Time going forward, following a motion initially brought forward by Porter Creek Centre MLA Paolo Gallina in the Legislative Assembly in 2017.
We heard loud and clear that this was the right move from Yukoners during the recent seasonal time change survey: 93% of the 4,800 respondents wanted seasonal time changes to stop. Of those, 70% were in favour of permanent Pacific Daylight Saving Time.
Thank you to all our constituents for sharing their opinions on this important issue.
Yukoners clearly want to see an end to seasonal time change and we are listening. The response to this engagement speaks to the importance of this issue for people. Thank you to everyone who took the time to voice an opinion. This helped our government make an informed decision for Yukon.Premier Sandy Silver
Sexualized Assault Response Team officially launched
The Sexualized Assault Response Team initiative has now officially launched, providing emotional, health and legal support to victims of sexualized violence.
Key components of the initiative include a 24-hour, confidential, free, Yukon-wide support line for all victims of sexualized assault, victim support workers available after-hours and on weekends, and on-call physicians specifically trained to support victims of sexualized assault.
Ongoing training and collaboration of SART agencies will continue to ensure the full network of services is responsive to the needs of victims.
If you need help, you can call 1-844-967-7275 to talk to a trained professional confidentially and anonymously about your options to get support. Find out how to get support for you or a friend on the new SART website.
Given the high rates of sexualized violence against women and girls, particularly Indigenous women and girls, in Yukon, the Sexualized Assault Response Team has been a long time coming. I am proud of the dedication and effort that went into the implementation of SART. We are not done. We know we need to strengthen partnerships with First Nations governments to make sure culturally relevant and informal support options are available to victims of sexualized violence. I’m looking forward to continuing this work.Minister responsible for the Women’s Directorate Jeanie Dendys
Find out more about SART.
2020 Arctic Winter Games cancelled
Following a recommendation from Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Whitehorse 2020 Arctic Winter Games have been cancelled. The 2020 AWG Host Society’s decision to follow the recommendation was supported by the Yukon government and the City of Whitehorse. We want to thank all of the athletes, parents, volunteers and businesses who invested so heavily in the planning of these games – your efforts were not wasted, and will continue to create positive outcomes for young athletes across the north.
Our government supports following the Chief Medical Officer of Health’s recommendation. We believe this is the most responsible course of action in light of concerns around the spread of COVID-19. This is a precautionary measure that is in the best interests of our athletes, support staff, families, and communities across the circumpolar North. We know how much effort has gone into preparing for these games. We thank all those who have helped to organize and prepare for them.Premier Sandy Silver
Legislation to ban conversion therapy
Conversion therapy, the practice of attempting to change the sexual orientation of LGBTQ2S+ people and youth, is something that has no place in Yukon or Canada.
Minister Jeanie Dendys tabled legislation this week to ban the practice in the territory.
It is vital that we ensure our territory is inclusive and free of discrimination. Yukoners have called for conversion therapy to be banned in our territory and our government is listening and taking action to prevent this harmful practice from ever happening in the territory. This is not only about protecting Yukoners today, but also protecting the generations to follow us.Minister responsible for the Women’s Directorate Jeanie Dendys
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.
Banning conversion is one more step towards a modern Yukon and follows:
Amendments to the Human Rights Act and the Vital Statistics Act that 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.
The Equality of Spouses Statute Law Amendment Act 2018 which 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 that promotes gender diversity on boards and committees, and extended the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
Learn more about the Bill to ban conversion therapy in Yukon.
Leave provisions for victims of domestic and sexualized violence
Our Liberal Caucus strongly believes in supporting victims of domestic or sexualized violence as they navigate extremely difficult situations in their lives. That is why Minister of Community Services John Streicker tabled Bill No. 10, which proposes to amend the Employment Standards Act to provide access to paid and unpaid leave for victims of domestic or sexualized violence.
The proposed leave would also apply to employees if their child or a person they care for were a victim of domestic or sexualized violence.
Domestic and sexualized violence is a tragic reality that we know is under-reported and can be experienced by anyone. These leave provisions provide the time, flexibility and economic security for victims to get the support they choose. This is part of our government’s efforts to help those who have experienced violence and sexualized assault. Safe and supported employees make for healthier workplaces in our communities.Minister of Community Services John Streicker
Amendments to the Land Titles Act
Minister of Justice Tracy-Anne McPhee tabled Bill No. 11 this week, which proposes amendments to the Land Titles Act that support Yukon First Nations governments to register Category A and B Settlement Land in the Yukon Land Titles Office in a way that does not impact Aboriginal rights and title.
Our government is committed to supporting Yukon First Nations governments to register their Settlement Land in the Land Titles Office in a way that does not impact Aboriginal rights and title. We are pleased to be working government-to-government to increase opportunities for land and economic development in Yukon.Minister of Justice Tracy-Anne McPhee
Amendments to the Wills Act
Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee tabled amendments to the Wills Act that would better reflect the realities of a modern Yukon, with provisions to address marriage, divorce, separation and common law relationships.
The Wills Act has not been amended since it came into force in 1954. A review of the act and feedback from Yukoners informed the proposed amendments.
We heard from Yukoners that they wanted estate legislation which better reflects the changing realities of Yukon families and society. The Government of Yukon is pleased to introduce changes which will modernize the Wills Act and align Yukon legislation with other Canadian jurisdictions. This is another example of our ongoing work to modernize Yukon’s laws for the benefit of Yukoners.Minister of Justice Tracy-Anne McPhee
New vaping rules in place
Vaping has become a rising health concern among our youth across the country. This week, the new Tobacco and Vaping Products Control and Regulation Act came into force, introducing a number of changes in Yukon:
– an individual must be 19 years old to sell or use tobacco and vaping products in Yukon;
– different restrictions will apply regarding the use and promotion of vaping products, similar to the current restrictions regarding tobacco products; and
– signage must include “no vaping” in addition to “no smoking.”
Find more information about the new vaping rules.