Campaign trail notes: Here's what Yukon's political parties had to say March 17

Parties talk mental health, contraception and infrastructure

Parties talk mental health, contraception and infrastructure

The Yukon coat of arms attached to the Yukon legislative building in Whitehorse
The Yukon coat of arms attached to the Yukon legislative building in Whitehorse pictured on Nov. 13, 2020. (Steve Silva/CBC)

All three major parties had policy announcements Wednesday. Here's a roundup of those promises:

Yukon Party will pursue long-term infrastructure investments

With bulldozers in background, the Yukon Party issued a suite of promises on infrastructure. Candidate Scott Kent told reporters the plan aims to offer more certainty to contractors by developing a 10-year infrastructure plan and issuing annual tender forecasts.

"Longer-term government investments in infrastructure and clear and decisive government planning can translate into Yukon businesses being able to provide training to their employees, plan for recruitment and retention strategies, and make greater contributions to the Yukon communities within which the project is located," Kent said.

The Yukon Party also promises to reverse cuts to road building programs and push the federal and U.S. governments to put up more funding for the Shakwak Agreement, which used to fund upgrades of the Alaska Highway.

The U.S. hasn't put up money for the agreement in recent years.

NDP wants walk-in mental health, shorter wait times

Leader Kate White said an NDP government would establish a walk-in mental health clinic in Whitehorse because wait times to access mental health services are too long. A clinic open seven days per week will allow people to get help when they need it, she said.

"Even if you don't have private coverage, you should still be able to access [mental health services] and it shouldn't be a matter of a months-long wait because if you're in crisis, you need the help now," White said.

"Organizations are doing the best they can and so, it's about government supporting them to make sure that everybody gets the help when they need it," she said.

White said an NDP government would hire new mental health workers and reassign existing ones to provide the service. She did not say how much the clinic would cost, but said expanded access to mental health services will save money in the long run.

Liberals promise to subsidize contraception, menstrual products

Liberal candidates Paolo Gallina and Staci McIntosh announced the Liberals would "subsidize" prescription birth control and menstrual products, which McIntosh said are necessities for people who menstruate.

"This is life changing," said McIntosh. "Women have to have control over their choice to have children and the cost of a prescription should not get in the way."

The Liberals did not offer details about how the program would work, what specific products would be covered or how much it would cost.

The NDP says it will provide free contraception and criticized the Liberal announcement, saying it doesn't go far enough. The Yukon Party declined to say whether it has a policy on contraception.

The Liberals also reiterated their universal daycare and early childhood education programs, which took effect April 1. 

With files from Julien Gignac and Mike Rudyk