Yukon government tables biggest budget ever in territory
Premier promises $80 million surplus in 2012 budget
Yukon premier Darrell Pasloski’s first-ever budget tabled Thursday revealed plans to spend more money than ever before by the territorial government.
Pasloski plans to spend around $1.16 billion in the coming year with another $80 million left over as surplus. But around 90 per cent of that comes directly from Ottawa in the form of various transfers.
The transfers are rising because Yukon’s population is growing due to a prosperous economy with most of the growth fueled by a mining boom. There are no plans to raise taxes or increase fees.
The premier, who is also Yukon’s finance minister, is spreading revenues out even further by deferring spending on some big ticket items like the new F.H. Collins High School in Whitehorse and an addition to the Whitehorse hospital.
Those projects and others will be built, Pasloski said.
"We ask for patience in that we cannot meet all our commitments in one budget. We have a five-year mandate with many more budgets yet to come," the premier said. "As Robert Service said, ‘A promise made is a debt unpaid,’ and we will deliver on our promises."
Yukon is joining Alberta as the only two jurisdictions in Canada to forecast a surplus for the upcoming fiscal year, Pasloski said.
NDP says premier promising more without making good on pledges already made
But NDP and Official Opposition leader Liz Hanson criticized the budget for lacking focus.
"We get a long list of promises scant on strategy. It's just sort of one thing after the other and what we find we're going back to commitments in 2002, 2006 that haven't been fulfilled," Hanson said.
She said the government still hasn't followed through with its commitment to provide more palliative care to Yukoners.
Hanson also wanted to see a full housing strategy from the government to address a housing shortage.
She said there's $13.5 million from the federal government sitting in the bank that’s been earmarked for housing, but not spent.