North·Yukon Votes 2021

Yukon Liberals release platform, say track record speaks for itself

Liberal Leader Sandy Silver has unveiled his party's platform, which makes several commitments to address housing, climate change and community safety.

‘It is not time to change our path now'

The Liberals released their platform on Tuesday at the party's headquarters in downtown Whitehorse. Leader Sandy Silver and Staci McIntosh, Liberal candidate for Porter Creek North, made the announcement. (Julien Gignac/CBC)

The Yukon Liberals have unveiled their election platform, one grounded in a promise to carry forward work they say is already well underway.

"The platform that I have introduced today offers Yukoners a solid plan for a strong future," Liberal Leader Sandy Silver said. "We have spent four and a half years building a very solid foundation.

"It is not time to change our path now."

Silver released the platform Tuesday morning at the Liberals' headquarters in downtown Whitehorse. The reveal came after two weeks of announcements that teased at what the party has in store for the electorate.

While much of the platform is couched in the Liberals' budget — which they tabled on March 4 — there are some new promises, including extending pandemic relief beyond September if needed, creating a park at McIntyre Creek in Whitehorse and helping electrify the highway between Vancouver and Tuktoyaktuk by 2025 to accommodate electric vehicles. 

In a bid to increase accountability, the Liberals also promise to revamp the code of ethics for MLAs and have them undertake what the party calls an "accountability pledge." Liberal communications manager Sunny Patch said little can be divulged about this commitment. She did say, however, that travel-related expenses for MLAs in the Whitehorse area and surrounding region won't be reimbursed.

Silver said the Liberals' platform is predicated on consultation with First Nations, municipalities and stakeholders, adding the budget is proof of that work.

"Our whole campaign is about let's keep going," he said.

Sections in the Liberal platform address issues such as:

  1. Climate change
  2. The economy 
  3. COVID-19 
  4. Healthcare and community wellness
  5. Housing
Yukon Liberal Leader Sandy Silver announces a territorial election would be held on April 12 during a press conference at the Whitehorse Wharf March 12. (Danielle d'Entremont/CBC)

1.  Climate change

Silver said Yukon is on the cusp of significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. If re-elected, the Liberals will follow through with delivering that goal, he added.

The Liberals pledge to make good on fully implementing "Our Clean Future," the party's climate change strategy that was released in September. The strategy aspires to reduce emissions by 30 per cent by 2030.

The strategy includes setting intensity-based targets for the mining sector. If the Liberals win the election, Silver said his party will work with the federal government to establish them. Emission targets at large will also be legislated, Silver added.

Silver said a territory-wide wetlands policy will be released in first year of a Liberal government. 

Other takeaways of the platform include:

  • Creating species at risk legislation. 
  • Ramping up biomass capacity. 
  • Tabling legislation to eventually develop geothermal energy projects.
  • Completing the Dawson regional land use plan and working to complete other plans at the behest of First Nations.

2. The economy 

Silver said the Liberals took big strides to bolster the economy while in office, adding that progress was evident when COVID-19 shook the territorial economy last year. 

Going forward, the Liberals pledge to offer pandemic relief for "as long as needed," according to their platform. In late February, the Liberals announced financial support would be offered until September.

Last week, the Liberals announced the "Great Yukon Summer campaign," which includes providing a roughly 25 per cent discount to eligible Yukon residents wanting to travel locally this summer. This would, in turn, give local businesses across the territory a financial boost, candidates say. 

"We will carry our economic momentum forward," Silver said. "Since being elected in 2016, we have changed the course of Yukon's economic future. We have seen economic growth each year and our unemployment rate has frequently been the lowest in the country."

Other highlights include: 

  • Making Whitehorse the host city of the 2027 Canada Winter Games.
  • Working with federal and local governments to possibly reintroduce commercial and passenger rail to the territory. 
  • Creating a $500,000 fund for organizations to host events this summer. 
  • Rolling out a music festival this fall in collaboration with the MacBride Museum.

3. COVID-19 

The Liberals' platform states Whitehorse was the first capital city in Canada to roll out a vaccination program to the general public. 

But residual impacts are expected to continue, it states.

To guide the territory out of the pandemic, the Liberals' propose to:

  • Re-evaluate the level of restrictions across the territory with Yukon's chief medical officer.
  • Expedite testing rates.
  • Work with First Nations, municipalities and stakeholders to improve the Civil Emergency Measures Act and the Public Health and Safety Act.
  • Establish a data sharing initiative with First Nations to avoid potential inequities.

4. Healthcare and community wellness

The Liberals promise to make Yukon's healthcare system more patient-focused.

According to the party's platform, this includes creating an integrated health authority, subsidizing birth control and menstruation products and revising the Health Professions Act in order to improve how healthcare professionals are regulated.

The Liberals also pledge to increase community wellness by creating a "health lodge" in Whitehorse for those who need to travel to the city for medical appointments. The party also proposes increasing teleconference capacity so that rural residents can virtually attend appointments and have prescriptions refilled without leaving their home communities.

Other takeaways include: 

  • Expanding community safety programming, akin to the community safety officers Kwanlin Dün and Selkirk First Nations have.
  • Working with First Nations to establish an on-the-land mental health and substance use treatment facility.
  • Hiring additional nurse practitioners.
  • Implementing mandatory cultural awareness training for health and social services providers. 
  • Expanding the Sexualized Assault Response Team program to communities.
  • Releasing an LGBTQ2S+ action plan.

5. Housing 

In the last three years, the Liberals have released 500 lots to develop housing, their platform states. 

Now, the party promises to release and develop 1,000 lots over the course of a second mandate. 

"Our population grows, and more needs to be done and it needs to be done fast," Silver said. 

Highlights include: 

  • Working with the private sector to develop a parcel of land in Whitehorse located at 5th Avenue and Rogers Street.
  • Relocating the grader station in Marwell and conducting environmental remediation to make way for future housing projects.
  • Establishing a land bank for housing lots.
  • Creating permanent affordable housing that include rent-to-own options.

Yukoners head to the polls April 12.

Read the entire Liberal party platform here:

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