Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski tabled a $1.3 billion budget in the legislature today, saying the government's priority is to build the economy and it will do that in part through infrastructure spending.
"There is a reason that this is the largest capital budget in Yukon's history," he said in the legislature.
- $85 million for work on highways, bridges and airports
- $28 milliion for continued work on F.H. Collins high school
- $27 million to build affordable rental housing
- $7 million for a 300-bed continuing care facility
- small business tax reduced to 3% from 4%
"At a time when the private sector is facing economic challenges, this is the time for the Yukon government to step to the plate and invest in infrastructure that will facilitate and stimulate the private sector."
Projected spending will be up almost $50 million over the current fiscal year, but the government says it will still have tens of millions leftover a year from now.
The government plans to spend $293 million on capital projects over the next year, such as road construction meant to improve infrastructure used by the mining industry. Other projects like new housing and schools are aimed at improving the quality of life in Yukon.
Yukon already has $157 million in its savings account and is projecting surpluses for the next five years including $72 million in each of the next two years and $68 million in the year after that.
The leader of the opposition says the government should have been a lot more imaginative in this year's budget.
"It's a very uninspired budget," said NDP leader Liz Hanson. "It's sad to see at a time when we actually need a vision for diversifying our economy that we're not getting it from this government."
Pasloski didn't say how he plans to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars in projected surpluses, but he closed his budget speech with a plea to the federal government to help fund a major hydroelectric dam in Yukon.
The premier says it would be a noble enterprise and set Yukon's economic agenda for the next 50 years.