Today’s budget highlighted one thing Yukoners already knew – the Yukon NDP’s bold and optimistic vision for the territory brings a breath of fresh air to an otherwise uneventful budget.

“We have questions on the priorities the Liberals are putting forward – we’re seeing up to $2M for a golf course irrigation in Whitehorse, while there is only $1.4M budgeted for addressing the substance use emergency. It’s a clear indication of what their priorities are. I’m glad that the Confidence and Supply Agreement ensures that some of the money is going into the right places,” said Kate White, Leader of the Yukon NDP.

Under the Confidence and Supply Agreement (CASA), the Yukon NDP negotiated a new walk-in clinic to be opened by next January and more money for the recruitment of healthcare professionals. As well, harm reduction initiatives such as a managed alcohol program, more availabilities at the Whitehorse detox centre and direct support to Yukon First Nations for land-based healing programs are part of the commitments.

“The Yukon NDP is making sure that everyone has the health care they need and we’re building on the success of our previous harm reduction initiatives. A managed alcohol program and land-based healing programs will change people lives for the better and we can’t wait to see them become a reality” added White.

Another CASA commitment that should be reflected in today’s budget is an increase to social assistance rates to fight against inflation.

“It’s getting harder and harder to put food on the table – and that’s why we wanted to give people a break. Increasing social assistance rates and the Yukon Child Benefit will put money into the pockets of folks who really need it right now. The government’s measures are weak at best, so I’m glad to see we’re making a difference for people who need it the most.” added White.

For Yukon students, the CASA commits new money to recruit and retain rural educators, additional Educational Assistants and Learning Assistance Teachers, dedicated wellness counselors in every school and investing $1 million per year in mental health for youth.

“Successive government have let our education system crumble – that’s why we negotiated to secure some real wins for kids and parents – like wellness counselors in every school and more rural teachers. We can’t continue having teaching vacancies in every other school. It was high time to make some bold decisions about the future of our Yukon students and Yukon schools.” said White.

“Overall, the government has a lot of work to do this year. Yukoners are expecting the commitments made under CASA to happen as soon as possible and we will hold the government to that.”