Yukon Party platform targets families, communities and pandemic recovery
Party leader Currie Dixon presented his plan in Whitehorse Wednesday
The Yukon Party made its pitch to voters this week, targeting families and businesses in what it's calling "Action for a Change" that promises expanded universal childcare and a Yukon-owned LNG energy generation facility in Whitehorse.
Party leader Currie Dixon unveiled the platform Wednesday at a Whitehorse brewery ahead of the April 12 territorial election.
Dixon outlined details of the plan, which he described as being based on three pillars: Yukon families, safe and growing communities, and a strong pandemic recovery.
"All of these [rest] on a foundation of good governance. This will allow us to lead the Yukon out of the pandemic and into a prosperous future," he said.
Dixon said the territory's recovery from the pandemic will be the primary challenge for the next government, and the first step in recovery is to help small businesses survive.
Dixon said according to the federal government, Yukon has thousands of rapid tests for COVID-19 not being used.
He said by doing more COVID-19 testing, the economy can get back on track faster.
"We will implement a comprehensive evidence-based rapid testing program for the Yukon as a part of our efforts to keep Yukoners safe," Dixon said.
Getting rid of Yukon Energy's diesel generators
Many elements of the party's platform had already been announced, but Dixon highlighted a new platform promise on Wednesday: he wants to get rid of the rented diesel generators at Yukon Energy.
The current government spent $4.1 million on 17 portable diesel generators in 2020. In 2019, it rented nine diesel generators at a cost of $2.2 million.
Dixon said a Yukon Party government would begin construction of a new LNG generator in Whitehorse.
"This will be cleaner than the current government's plans to rent and build new diesels," he said.
"At the end of the day, it's costing Yukoners a lot of money to rent those diesel generators from Alberta, and every single one of those dollars we spend on that ... goes straight to Alberta instead of staying here in the territory with assets that would be owned by Yukon people," Dixon said.
Dixon also said if elected, the Yukon Party would freeze power rates from Yukon Energy for two years, giving Yukoners a financial break. Dixon said power rates are expected to increase by 11.5 per cent.
He said the Yukon Party also wants to get Watson Lake connected to the grid. Currently, the town's power comes from diesel generators.
The Yukon Party platform consists of:
Dixon said the economic recovery of the territory will be the main challenge for a new government. He said the private sector needs to be the focus. The party wants to launch a "Red Tape Modernization Plan" and create what it's calling a one-for-one rule.
"This one-to-one rule will require the government to manage the growth of regulatory burden on businesses. This means the government would have to remove a regulation when a new one increases administrative burden cost on businesses," he explained.
He said there will also be a biennial publication showing regulatory changes over a 24-month period from each government department.
Other takeaways from the platform include:
- Encouraging economic diversification.
- Creating new private sector opportunities.
- Bolstering the Yukon's tourism industry.
- Opening up the distribution model of the Yukon Liquor Corporation.
- Allowing licensees to purchase directly from manufacturers and distributors and conduct a pricing review.
- Immediately accelerating and enhancing the distribution of the tourism relief funding by increasing the amount per year by 50 per cent to $7.5 million.
Dixon said they will create a universal child benefit plan of $500 per child per month for each child up to and including 5 years old, as well as a non-taxable $100 benefit per child per month for each child between ages six and 10.
Dixon said the plan is better than the current government plan, because "their plan only targets children who already have a child care space.
"It leaves behind approximately 1,000 children … who receive zero benefits under the current government's plan; this is not universal," Dixon said.
Other highlights include:
- Expansion of health and wellness, and mental wellness initiatives.
- Setting a clear goal of an 80 per cent graduation rate within 10 years for First Nations' students.
The Yukon Party said investment that flows in Yukon needs to be shared with the communities.
It wants to tackle affordable housing and land development if elected. It said it will need a team approach with Yukon First Nations, municipalities and the private sector.
"One of the biggest obstacles to affordability and to further growth in the Yukon is the lack of land available for development. This lack of land is one of the greatest factors contributing to our unattainable housing crisis" Dixon said.
He said the Yukon Party will work with First Nation governments to make more land available.
Other details include:
- Re-introduce housing programs that were cancelled by the current government, such as the First Time Home Buyer Program.
- Explore options to increase private housing options in Yukon communities.
- Create a new campground and add new spaces to existing campgrounds.
- Commit $1 million in new funding to combat sexual assault and provide services to survivors of sexual violence.
- Take steps to implement the Yukon's Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit + People Strategy.
The Yukon Party said when it comes to public finances the government needs to live within its means.
To achieve that goal, the party plans to:
- Commit to working with First Nations to hold four Yukon Forums a year.
- Work collaboratively with Yukon First Nations to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations.
- Respect the independence of the public service by enabling public servants to remain neutral and non-partisan in their work.
- Cap political contributions from individuals and businesses.
- Reverse the trend of the current government of going further and further into debt and release a strategy to return the territory to "No Net Debt."
Dixon said now that the platform is out, the focus is communicating what the vision is to Yukoners.
"We believe we have the best plan in the territory," he said.
"We believe that our plan is the only one that creates truly universal support for child care, our plan will reduce energy costs and make life more affordable."