Yukon premier offers scant comment on federal budget

Yukon premier Darrell Pasloski's government relies heavily on federal funding, but the premier (and territorial finance minister) has so far said little about the budget, saying he needs more time to study it.

Darrell Pasloski refused interviews on the Liberal government's first budget

Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the First Ministers meeting in Ottawa, in November. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The annual federal budget is typically scrutinized with intense interest by the Yukon government; after all, federal transfers account for some 80 per cent of the territory's annual budget.

But Yukon premier and finance minister Darrell Pasloski had scant comment on the first budget of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government.

Pasloski refused media interviews and instead issued a brief statement on Wednesday.

"I am pleased to see that the Government of Canada responded positively to my letter emphasizing the importance of the Mineral Exploration Tax Credit," the statement reads. It goes on to say that Pasloski will now assess the "structural changes to both the tax regime and the budget" and comment further on the impact to Yukoners when he tables the territorial budget later this spring.

Whitehorse welcomes transit, housing money

Other political leaders in Yukon had more to say.

Whitehorse mayor Dan Curtis said he's "grateful" for the infrastructure money in the federal budget, but thinks it's a bit thin.

The federal budget has allotted a total of $890,000 for public transit in Yukon. Curtis says he doesn't know how helpful that will be.

Whitehorse mayor Dan Curtis and Kwanlin Dün First Nation Chief Doris Bill, with Premier Pasloski, in February. Both Curtis and Bill are pleased to see more money for affordable housing in Yukon. (Heather Avery/CBC)

"A transit bus is over a half a million dollars," Curtis says. "With a population of 29,000 people, our ridership is in excess of 600,000 rides per year. So it's a huge venture for a city our size.

"We need a lot more assistance than is being provided in the north, particularly in transit."

The budget also allotted $8 million over two years for affordable housing in Yukon. Curtis welcomes that money as well, but again said it's not enough to address the issue.

For Kwanlin Dün chief Doris Bill, affordable housing is also a key issue. She represents the largest First Nation in the territory, based in Whitehorse.

Bill said changes to the tax structure will help many people in her community, particularly single parents, who will benefit from changes to the child tax credit.

Bill also applauded the additional money for the Nutrition North program — $64.5 million over five years — but said deeper change to the program is needed.

"There needs to be some restructuring of that program as well, so I think the money will go a long way to help some of the communities. Whether it's going to be enough is another story."


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