Liberal Budget Falls Short on Big Issues

Whitehorse, March 3rd, 2022 – Today’s budget highlighted that the Liberals are disconnected from what Yukoners want and need.

“We’re glad to see the commitments of the Confidence and Supply Agreement reflected – but the overall budget is underwhelming. There are no bold investments for climate change adaptation and mitigation and little new money dedicated to the drug poisoning crisis. Housing investments won’t come close to solving the Yukon’s ongoing housing shortage. The Liberals have delivered an unexceptional budget in exceptional times.” 

– Kate White, leader of the Yukon NDP

Below are major gaps the Yukon NDP Caucus has identified:

Healthcare – With thousands of Yukoners still without a family doctor, the Liberals failed to include funding for a new walk-in clinic. With the emergency room as the only other option for basic healthcare, hospitals have felt a strain because of it.

As our aging population continues to grow, this budget misses an opportunity to implement aging in place initiatives. The government is stalling on their own promises as they make cuts to home care and continuing care.

Harm reduction – The Yukon is now the Canadian jurisdiction with the highest rate of deaths by drug poisoning per capita. And yet – almost no new funds have been directed to harm reduction initiatives.

Training for healthcare practitioners to prescribe a safe supply of opioids should be a priority, as well as allowing registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses to prescribe treatment medications for opioid use disorder.

The Yukon will receive less money this year from the federal government for substance use addictions programs, because the Minister failed to apply for available funding streams, such as federal funding for a managed alcohol program.

Climate change – Despite the Liberals’ declaration of a climate change emergency more than two years ago, the budget for Our Clean Future is still less than they are spending on highway maintenance. That is not a budget that is serious about a climate crisis.

“The government has declared multiple emergencies – the climate, the opioid crisis – yet it’s not reflected in the budget. What we have seen are big words, little action, and definitely no ambition.”

 – Annie Blake, MLA for Vuntut Gwitchin

Education – The department of education needs to recover from years of neglect under successive governments and this “business as usual” budget just doesn’t cut it.

Clinical counselors are needed in schools. Physical changes to schools and classrooms need to be made. More training needs to be available for educators, and the government needs to recruit permanent teachers instead of filling full time positions with teachers on call.

Housing – The Liberal budget’s housing commitments won’t come close to addressing this crisis or clearing the ever-growing waitlist at Yukon Housing.

The Yukon is facing the worst housing crisis the territory has ever seen. Many families have given up on ever owning a house, and some are a paycheck away from homelessness. While the rent cap protected hundreds of people from losing their homes to rent hikes, the Liberals have actively refused to provide more protections to Yukon tenants.

“Everyone deserves a stable, affordable place to live. This budget keeps on with the business as usual for housing. What we need is creative, innovative investments and policies to make housing affordable for everyone, including renters.”

– Emily Tredger, MLA for Whitehorse Center

Paid Sick leave – Public engagement around paid sick leave showed an overwhelming support for paid sick leave for every Yukon worker. The recommendations from the Make Work Safe panel called for a co-funded model – it’s disappointing to see the Liberals chose to leave this out of their budget.