November 23, 2023, WHITEHORSE — The Yukon Liberal Government has made a number of significant advancements during the fall 2023 sitting of the Yukon Legislative Assembly that will improve access to health care, make life more affordable, and work towards ensuring that all Yukoners have a place to call home.
In addition to passing legislation that will continue our ongoing work to build healthy communities, make life more affordable and invest in our collective future, the Yukon Liberal Caucus is working hard to recruit and retain health care providers and improve health care delivery and access to services across the territory.
Earlier this month, our government supported a Yukon delegation visit to the Southcentral Foundation in Anchorage, Alaska to learn about the Nuka System of Care and Indigenous-led approaches for health care transformation. This will assist with our government’s efforts to transform our health care system into one that is guided by the values and preferences of Yukoners and takes care to prioritize their health care needs.
Bill No. 33, which received assent this session, amended the Registered Nurses Profession Act to make the Yukon an even more appealing destination for health care professionals.
Earlier in the legislative session, Premier and MLA for Porter Creek South Ranj Pillai signed a letter of intent to support collaboration and share best practices between the Yukon and Nova Scotia on Health Human Resources. He met with local Yukoners trained to work as health care professionals who are working outside the health care field to better understand barriers they face, and he visited Asia with a delegation from Health and Social Services to create valuable connections for the Yukon to advance international healthcare worker recruitment.
Our government also budgeted an additional $17.11 million in the 2023-24 supplementary estimates to help the Yukon Hospital Corporation respond to an increased demand for services. Unfortunately, the Yukon Party did not support these efforts, reminding Yukoners of their regressive approach to governing when in power.
The Yukon Liberal Government looks forward to sharing our Health Human Resources Strategy soon, which will detail our approach to retain, recruit and plan for healthcare professions to live and work across the Yukon.
We are modernizing our health care system, improving access to digital health services, improving access to care, building collaborative health teams and ensuring we have the human resources needed now and in the future.
Yukoners continue to see impacts of our government’s efforts to maintain a strong economy. This includes a GDP growth of 3.3 per cent in 2022 and the second highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in Canada, with an increase of 5.9% compared to the previous year.
GDP growth indicates a stronger economy, leading to more jobs, higher incomes and improved living standards. It also attracts investment, helps support government spending on essential services, and contributes to poverty reduction efforts.
The Yukon continues to have among the lowest unemployment rates in Canada – averaging 3.7 per cent in 2022 – and currently sits at 4 per cent for October 2023. In 2022, the labour force averaged 24,300 up by 600 over the 2021 average. In 2022, the average number of employed Yukoners also increased by 1,000 over the 2021 statistic.
This is encouraging as we continue to build a strong, sustainable and resilient territory together.
Additionally, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) decreased by 0.4 per cent in October 2023 compared to September 2023; while nationally, the CPI increased by 0.1 per cent.
Housing remains a priority for this government and with support from a $40 million investment towards housing outlined in our Budget, we have a number of promising housing capital projects coming up, including the 10-plex in Old Crow, a 10-unit Watson Lake Housing First building and much more. This fall, we also announced remediation plans for the Ryder Apartment building in Whitehorse. Once complete, the new building will provide more units on the same lot.
Our Caucus is at the table as part of broader, ongoing efforts to address residents’ and businesses concerns about safety in downtown Whitehorse. We remain committed to working with all partners, including businesses, First Nations, RCMP, and Connective to ensure that downtown Whitehorse is a place where residents feel safe, businesses feel secure, and everyone can access the services and supports that they need.
We have expanded collaboration with these partners and Yukoners are seeing progress:
- Benches that block the line of sight along Alexander Street have been removed, following crime prevention through environmental design principles.
- We hired private security services for businesses in proximity to Alexander Street
- We’re working in partnership with the Council of Yukon First Nations to launch the Mobile Downtown Outreach Initiative, similar to Winnipeg’s Bear Clan Patrol.
- We’re continuing to provide funding to First Nations governments through our Community Safety Planning program, through which First Nations governments can access funding of up to $200,000 for community safety planning and implementation.
- We’re continuing to support the work of the Yukon RCMP “M” Division to combat organized crime and drug trafficking in the Yukon through an increase to RCMP funding in Budget 2023-24, which the Yukon Party voted against.
Our members of our team appreciate how patient downtown residents, workers and businesses have been as we all work together to meet the needs of everyone in our community, and we ask for their continued support and compassion as this work continues into the new year.
The Supplementary Estimates also contains funds to grant salary increases to the hard-working Yukoners who keep our communities safe, including EMS workers, fire fighters, nurses, rural health care workers, and many other Yukoners who deliver the services that Yukoners rely on. By voting against the Supplementary Estimates, the Yukon Party opposition showed Yukoners that they do not believe in fair compensation for the Yukoners who dedicate their lives to keeping our communities, friends, and family members safe.
Despite this, the Yukon Party continues to call for an election that no one wants, with the exception of power-hungry Currie Dixon, who has done nothing to show Yukoners that he or his caucus colleagues would listen to their concerns, appreciate their points of view, or advocate for their way of life. In contrast, our team of experienced decision makers continue to move this territory forward and improve the lives of Yukoners by working alongside them.
The Yukon Liberal Caucus is honoured to represent Yukoners. Our entire caucus is grateful for the hard work of all Government of Yukon employees, municipal and federal employees, First Nations partners, organizations, businesses and citizens for their contributions to building a better territory where everyone can thrive.