Last gov't left us $8M in the hole, says Yukon premier

Sandy Silver blames the deficit on money spent by the Yukon Party government in the lead up to last fall's election.

Sandy Silver says pre-election spending by the Yukon Party put government into deficit

'That does mean that we’ll need to find areas to decrease budgets, absolutely,' said Premier Sandy Silver. (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada)

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver acknowledges it's almost a rite of passage for any new government — look at the books, and find some holes.

"There's lots of research to indicate that it is very common for a new government to have to run deficits, usually closely linked to pre-election spending from those past governments," Silver said.

The premier says his government is facing a deficit of nearly $8 million this year, associated with money spent by the Yukon Party government in the lead-up to last fall's election.

Last spring, the Yukon Party tabled its last budget, touting a $9.4 million surplus.

Some of the additional spending last year was associated with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's visit to Yukon, Silver said. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

The new government issued a special warrant on Monday, which authorizes up to $29.4 million in additional spending this year to cover any budgetary shortfall.

Silver says the money will address costs associated with a new union agreement, election expenses, additional education expenses, and costs associated with the royal visit.

"There was a lot of spending done that wasn't accounted for in the [main budget]," he said.

Silver also said the deficit may have an impact on his government's spending plans. The Liberals will introduce their first budget this spring.

"We will be entering into budget development knowing that there is an $8 million deficit. That does mean that we'll need to find areas to decrease budgets, absolutely," he said.

The opposition Yukon Party, however, is accusing the Liberals of "spin".

In a statement, finance critic Brad Cathers says his party left Silver with "the best financial situation any new government has ever inherited in the Yukon." 

Cathers says that when the election was called last fall, his party's government was on track to finish the year with a surplus. He also says the Liberals have chosen to "hide from scrutiny" by using a special warrant instead of introducing a supplementary budget to the legislature.

"Their claim that they were left a deficit will not go unchallenged," Cathers said. 

With files from Vic Istchenko

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