We hope everyone enjoyed summer in our spectacular territory and took the time to get out paddling, camping, or walking in the midnight sun and catch up with friends and loved ones. After a rather quiet and challenging two years, the Yukon Liberal Caucus is all thrilled to see a stronger tourism season returning with many new faces visiting the Yukon and taking in all this majestic place has to offer. Earlier this spring, Minister Pillai was happy to announce random COVID-19 arrival testing would not be conducted at any of the Yukon’s land borders or airports, helping to streamline tourist arrivals.
Thank you to all the partners in the Border Working Group: the Canada Borders Service Agency, the Yukon Chamber of Commerce, White Pass and Yukon Route, Holland America, and the Borough of Skagway.
Our Liberal Caucus looks forward to continued success working with our partners to see Yukon tourism businesses thriving and showing the world what an exceptional destination the Yukon is as the territory’s economy continues to lead the country in growth.
As we enter fall and another sitting of the Yukon Legislative Assembly, here is an update on work underway to help improve life for all Yukoners. Our Liberal Caucus continues to support investments in affordable housing, health care, innovation, critical infrastructure, flood mitigation, and resiliency in the face of climate change, just to name a few top priorities.
Liberal MLAs continue to work every day to support Yukoners and make life more affordable in the territory.
The Yukon Liberal Caucus
Improving the lives of Yukoners
Here are some highlights from the past few months and updates on work underway to make life better in the Yukon.
- Premier Sandy Silver and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met in May to discuss Arctic sovereignty, critical minerals, climate change, community infrastructure, healthcare and mental health. Premier Silver also discussed these issues at the Northern Premiers’ Forum in Whitehorse, the Western Premiers’ Conference in Regina, and the Council of the Federation in Victoria.
- On May 30, 2022, upgrades to the Yukon’s Supervised Consumption Site were completed to accommodate inhalation as a method of drug consumption. The Yukon’s Supervised Consumption Site is one of the first facilities in Canada to support inhalation as a way to help reduce harm amongst people that use drugs.
- Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee is currently discussing exemption possibilities with all partners, including the federal government, to remove criminal penalties for people who possess certain substances. Minister McPhee is advocating for a coordinated Canadian response to removing barriers and expanding access to a safer supply of opioids and related drugs.
- Amendments to the Child and Family Services Act passed in the spring sitting of the Yukon Legislative Assembly, which will reduce the over-representation of Indigenous children in care and improve outcomes for all children, youth and families involved with the child welfare system. This legislation was co-developed with Yukon First Nations – a first in the territory.
- Lot development is happening across the territory. In the last year alone, municipalities across the territory have issued almost 1,300 permits for residential construction.
- The government is supporting the long-term growth of gymnastics and climbing in the Yukon by partnering with the Government of Canada, Polarettes Gymnastics Club, Yukon Gymnastics Association and Climb Yukon Association to see a new gymnastics and climbing gym in Whitehorse open by the end of March 2024.
- Second COVID-19 booster appointments for people who are aged 18 and over are now available. Vaccines remain the best protection against COVID-19 and all Yukoners are encouraged to stay up to date on all recommended doses.
- Progress continues on the reconstruction of the North Klondike Highway. So far, 30 kilometres of the road has been rebuilt and a number of culverts have been replaced, upgraded and repaired.
- Work is underway to complete energy retrofits in government-owned buildings. Currently, there are 38 energy retrofit projects on the go in Government of Yukon buildings across 11 Yukon communities.
- The Yukon is now a member of the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories (INSTO). The Yukon is the second Canadian INSTO member, and the first north of 60 degrees.
- The government continues to support the Yukon’s vibrant and resilient tourism sector as it adapts beyond the pandemic, including investing in the Yukon Elevate Tourism Program. In the past year, more than 2,300 Yukoners accessed the Great Yukon Summer and Great Yukon Summer Freeze programs, accounting for over $1.5 million spent on tourism packages in the Yukon and $383,000 issued in rebate payments.
Rebate helps Yukoners with high prices
The Yukon Liberal Caucus recognizes that Yukoners are seeking relief from high prices and this spring, Premier Silver introduced a $150 rebate on electrical bills for all residential and commercial customers in the Yukon.
Starting in June, the rebate appeared as a $50 credit, and continued each month for three months, on all residential and commercial electricity customers’ bills. This will have a broad impact in the territory, helping people on fixed incomes and those in rural communities. Our Caucus remains focused on making life more affordable for Yukoners. The government’s Budget includes historic investments to support the Yukon’s first-ever universal, affordable childcare program, which has significantly reduced the living wage in the territory. The government also raised the minimum wage and doubled the medical travel subsidy. The electrical rebate is yet another step to put more money in the pockets of Yukoners.
Yukon Forum held for first time in Old Crow
The Yukon Forum continues to be an important venue for open dialogue between the government and Yukon First Nations, and is an opportunity to review progress to date and discuss shared priorities for the coming years.
On June 16, the Premier, government ministers, Council of Yukon First Nations Grand Chief Peter Johnston and Yukon First Nations Chiefs met in Old Crow at the Darius Elias Community Centre for the Yukon Forum. Renewable energy and climate change were part of the dialogue as well as an update on the work
to create an implementation plan for Yukon’s MMIWG2S+ Strategy.
Yukon Midwifery Program officially launches
The Yukon Liberal Caucus supports providing Yukoners with additional options that support healthy pregnancies, positive birthing experiences, and quality care after childbirth.
This year, publicly funded and regulated midwifery services were fully integrated into the Yukon’s health care system. In July, the first-ever Yukon Midwifery Clinic
opened and began to see clients. Find information or register for the Yukon Midwifery Program at http://yukon.ca/midwifery-program.
“Offering free, integrated, safe midwifery services is important in supporting Yukoners through their pregnancy, birth and early parenthood. We look forward to welcoming Yukon families into this new model of care that will better support expecting and new parents. Over the coming months, we will continue to work with our partners in the Yukon’s health care system to expand midwifery care across the territory.” – Minister of Health and Social Services Tracy-Anne McPhee
Additional opportunities for early childhood educators
The Yukon Liberal Caucus is committed to improving childcare and early childhood education in the territory to help Yukon families and make life more affordable.
Last year the first universal, affordable childcare program was introduced in the Yukon, saving Yukon families up to $700 per month, per child. Together with the federal government, the government is also supporting Yukon University to provide an accelerated education pathway for early childhood educators (ECEs). The new Professional Diploma Pathway program supports early childhood educators with an individualized plan to complete the required training to achieve full Level 3 status. This status is the highest credential for early childhood educators in the Yukon. Additional funding is enhancing course offerings for rural communities. These Individualized plans will support educators by providing the flexibility they need to continue working and providing care for Yukon children.
By providing additional training opportunities for ECEs in the Yukon, the government is delivering on its commitment in the Putting People First report to increase accessible training opportunities that support early learning for Yukon children. We value the contribution of ECEs to the Yukon’s universal child care system. ECEs in the Yukon are now the highest paid in the country, with access to comprehensive benefit plans and opportunities to upgrade their education while working right here in the Yukon. It’s an exciting, transformative time for early learning in the Yukon, as we know that each educator who takes advantage of this opportunity will in turn pass on the benefits to hundreds of children in their care.