White calls for rent and food cost relief along with support for small businesses in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic

Yukon NDP Leader Kate White is calling on the Yukon government to take further action to support Yukoners through the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure small businesses can weather the storm.

White pointed to the BC NDP government’s leadership in providing a provincial top up to workers who qualify for EI or CERB as well as support for renters in the form of a $500 rent subsidy. She suggested the Yukon government could quickly implement similar programs to provide relief for workers and tenants in Yukon.

The Yukon NDP is also calling on the government to support Yukoners who live outside Whitehorse with the cost of food. White is proposing a monthly payment reflective of local options available in rural communities of $100 to $200 per individual for as long as travel within Yukon is discouraged.

“The government is asking people to limit travel between Whitehorse and the communities. This travel limitation will mean extra food cost for many rural yukoners but it’s also an opportunity to support local businesses in the communities. We think providing financial support, encouraging people to stay in their community and shop in their local store is the right thing to do,” said White.

The Yukon NDP is also appealing to the Yukon government to fill in the gaps left by the federal supports to small businesses and businesses specifically targeted by public health measures.

White would like to see a program where the Yukon government provide grants to pay for a portion of fixed costs (rent, utilities, etc,) of small businesses who have been directly affected by public health measures. This would include personal service businesses that have been ordered to shut down like hair salons as well as businesses who have lost a large share of their revenue like the food service and tourism industry.

The Yukon NDP is also proposing a similar program for micro-businesses as well as the inclusion of representatives of the personal service business sector and micro-businesses on the Business Advisory Council created last week.

“Small businesses, the mom and pop shops, are the heart and soul of our communities. It’s the restaurants, the art shops, the hole-in-the-wall places that will struggle most. That’s where the Yukon government can step in and ensure these shops can survive and help our community thrive when they can resume operations,” said White.

Support for individuals:

  • One-time $1,000 top up to all workers who qualify for federal Employment Insurance (EI) of the new federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
  • $500 monthly rent relief for tenants or equivalent program based on percentage of rent
  • $100 – $200 monthly food cost subsidy for Yukoners living outside Whitehorse

Supports for small businesses:

  • Grants to cover a percentage of fixed costs for small businesses directly affected by public health measures (personal service businesses, food service industry, tourism).
  • Targeted grants for micro-businesses (less than 10 employees) to cover a percentage of fixed costs.
  • Inclusion of personal service businesses and micro-businesses into Business Advisory Council