Spend less, tax more: Opposition gives their two cents on Yukon financial panel's report

'It’s just a matter of the government ensuring that they control their spending,' says the Yukon Party's Stacey Hassard, while NDP leader Liz Hanson says 'taxes are not bad.'

Yukon Party says government must control spending, while NDP says 'taxes are not bad'

Yukon Party interim leader Stacey Hassard and Yukon NDP leader Liz Hanson agree that the financial advisory panel's report has good ideas that need to be taken seriously. (Claudiane Samson/Radio-Canada/CBC)

Yukon's opposition is welcoming a new report from the territory's financial advisory panel, and saying now it's time for the government to get busy.

"There's nothing stopping the government now from moving forward," said interim Yukon Party leader Stacey Hassard.

"I think that they've kind of dragged their heels a little bit on getting moving, but now they have this report in their hands and so there are no more excuses."

The report was presented on Wednesday by the independent advisory panel. The group was appointed last spring by Premier Sandy Silver to study Yukon's finances and suggest ways to avoid future deficits.

The lengthy document touches on everything from a new territorial sales tax, to higher user fees, to cutting government programs and finding efficiencies.

Hassard did not say which of the panel's specific ideas his party supports, but said it's up to the government to look at all the options put forward. He also says the government shouldn't just focus on revenue.

"We don't feel that there is a need for tax increases or cuts — it's just a matter of the government ensuring that they control their spending."

The Yukon Party had already slammed the idea of a territorial sales tax. Still, Hassard says it was "bothersome" to see the Premier also reject the idea on Wednesday.

"It's a little bit troubling when you see things coming off the table within minutes of the report being put out there to the public," he said.

"I feel that possibly the panel may have spent time and effort discussing things with Yukoners that maybe the government didn't have any intention of doing to begin with."

'Taxes are not bad,' NDP says

NDP leader Liz Hanson, meanwhile, also thinks the panel's report deserves close study.

"The panel's put forward some solid ideas, some good analysis... They've laid out some scenarios where those choices don't have to be painful, but they do take some political backbone," she said.

She likes some of the ideas that would raise revenue, such as a Yukon payroll tax for workers coming from out of the territory. 

Yukoners themselves could also afford to pay a bit more in taxes, she says. 

"Taxes are not bad — taxes pay for our public health care, for our education system. So that part of the conversation needs to be looked at," Hanson said.

MLAs will be able to talk to members of the financial advisory panel, and ask questions about their report, on Tuesday. 

With files from Sandi Coleman


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