Budget shows Yukon Party government desperation, dread of election

Yukon NDP leader Liz Hanson is calling Yukon Party government’s 2016 budget a cynical attempt to buy Yukoners’ votes by giving $100 per child to Yukon families weeks before a fall election. The pre-election budget further ignores the wishes of Yukon seniors and Elders who want to access more local health care services as they age. Investment in an Oil and Gas Action Plan shows a refusal to recognize the opportunities to create green jobs and a long-term sustainable energy plan. A sudden conversion to supporting Yukon businesses should have happened years ago.

Through the budget, Premier Darrell Pasloski is planning to give each family $100 for every child in Yukon to buy school supplies in September – just weeks before an anticipated election call. His plan takes a cue from similar pre-election giveaways like Stephen Harper’s taxable Universal Child Care Benefit and former Alberta Premier Ralph Klein’s $400 “Prosperity Bonus”.

“I find it insulting that the Yukon Party government is adopting Harper-style vote-buying tactics ahead of this fall’s election,” said Hanson, who used Question Period to discuss the government’s lack of economic leadership. “Yukon families will see this pre-election handout for what it is.”

Despite several contentious years of opposition to fracking, including a legislative committee report showing clear concerns from both experts and Yukoners about the gas extraction method, the Yukon Party government is set to bulldoze through an Oil and Gas Action Plan. As communities across North America already affected by fracking are sounding the alarm bell about its harmful social and environmental consequences, the Yukon Party government refuses to see the writing on the wall.

Pasloski’s budget also fails to reflect criticism from Yukoners that his government has failed to plan to care for the ageing in our communities. A further $67 million to build a continuing care complex in Whitehorse’s Whistle Bend subdivision dwarfs this year’s $244,000 increase to home care services. The Yukon Party government is failing to offer Yukon seniors and Elders a spectrum of services to ensure that they receive the right care at the right time in their lives.

“The Yukon Party government is spending over twice as much to knock down the old McDonald Lodge than it is on this year’s home care services increase,” Hanson added in reference to the $500,000 demolition project. “Governing is about leadership and setting priorities, and this budget is a clear sign that the Yukon Party has the wrong health care priorities.”

And while Hanson welcomes the government’s pledge to do more to support local Yukon businesses, she questioned why it has taken until the last year of their mandate to finally make buying Yukon a formal priority.

“Premier Pasloski has been content to watch jobs flow south and sit back as major contracts like the Faro Mine remediation project are awarded to companies from outside Yukon,” Hanson affirmed. “They even tried to shutter the YuWin job board. Yukoners need a government that has their back when it comes to creating jobs and supporting our local economy.”

“It’s time for change.”