North

Yukon premier downplays gloomy economic forecast

Premier Darrell Pasloski says a recent report from the Conference Board of Canada may be grimmer than reality. Meanwhile, the territory's opposition parties say Pasloski's Yukon Party is partly to blame.

Conference Board of Canada report called Yukon's outlook 'bleakest' in Canada

'Really, the greatest risk to our economy and to the mining industry is to elect an NDP or Liberal government,' said Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Premier Darrell Pasloski responded to a "bleak" economic outlook with a warning to Yukoners: things will be worse if you vote us out this fall.

The Conference Board of Canada released its latest forecasts for the territories on Wednesday, and the picture for Yukon was especially grim — the "bleakest near-term outlook" in Canada, the report says.

It says Yukon's economy has suffered from low commodity prices, and the downward trend will continue for at least the next couple of years.

Pasloski downplays the report, saying the gloomy forecast may not actually come to pass. But he also acknowledges how dependent Yukon still is on mining. 

"What this really shows us is how important the resource sector is," Pasloski said. 

"That's why, as a leader and a party... we've always said, now more than ever, you know, we need to stand up, we need to support our resource industry."

The Conference Board report comes at an awkward time for the governing Yukon Party, as it prepares to face voters in a territorial election this fall.  

Pasloski says, however, that his party is still the safest bet for Yukoners worried about the economy.

"Really, the greatest risk to our economy and to the mining industry is to elect an NDP or Liberal government, because both of those parties would put in a new tax — a carbon tax that would make everything cost more," he said.

Government must take some blame, opposition says

Not surprisingly, Yukon's opposition parties are turning the spotlight back to the Yukon Party, which they say must take some responsibility for the poor economic forecast.

'The Yukon Party government has driven Yukon's economy into the ground,' said NDP Leader Liz Hanson. (CBC)

"The Yukon Party government has driven Yukon's economy into the ground," said NDP leader Liz Hanson, in a statement.

"We need to build a more diverse and flexible economy; mining will always play a role in Yukon's economy, but we have to acknowledge the ups and downs of commodity prices by supporting other industries."

Meanwhile, Liberal Leader Sandy Silver blames the government's legal battles with First Nations and its refusal to update mining laws.

"I mean, that would be the difference between us and the other territories. We seem to be at loggerheads here, with antiquated ways of pursuing mining," Silver said.

Both Nunavut and N.W.T. are expected to see GDP growth by next year, the Conference Board report says.

with files from Dave Croft

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