Will Yukon lose millions in federal dollars? Not a chance says premier

Yukon Party MLA Brad Cathers called on Premier Sandy Silver to challenge last year's census because its undercount of Yukoners could lead to less funding from Ottawa. Silver says he need not worry.

Opposition MLA Brad Cathers worried census will cut funding; he's wrong says Premier Sandy Silver

Yukon premier Sandy Silver says Cathers' premise is wrong because the census is not used to calculate the territory's annual grant from Ottawa. (CBC)

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver is dismissing fears raised by the opposition Yukon Party that the territory could miss out on millions of dollars in federal transfers because last year's census undercounted Yukoners.

Yukon Party MLA Brad Cathers noted this week that the federal census pegged the territory's population at 35,874 while the territorial government's estimate is 38,200.

Cathers said that's significant because the census is used to calculate the size of Yukon's grant under the Territorial Formula Financing Agreement.

Yukon Party MLA Brad Cathers says federal census takers undercounted Yukon's population last year and the territory could lose millions of dollars because of it. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

"What this would mean a difference for is not the next fiscal year, but on future fiscal years after that, if the population count is not successfully challenged, it would have an impact of again, roughly 56.9 million dollars per fiscal year," said Cathers.

But Silver said Cathers' premise is wrong.

He said the census is not used to calculate Yukon's federal grant because it always undercounts the territory's population.

Gary Brown, a senior information officer in the Yukon Bureau of Statistics, told CBC News last week federal statisticians will now work with the bureau's statistics to come up with a more accurate population count.

Brown said that's what occurred after the 2011 census.

"In 2011 the net undercoverage rate was 3.85% so they figure overall in the census they missed 3.85% of the population," he said.

Brown expects the adjusted count will be ready sometime next year.

He added the same process happens in the provinces and other territories.

with files from Meagan Deuling and Philippe Morin