Question re: Economic outlook - May 2, 2016

Mr. Silver: An article appeared in Up Here magazine over the winter. It was called “Fortune Tellers — Yukon…” The Premier was featured in a section called, “Let’s pay our way”. In it, it said — and I quote: If the Premier’s “dream comes true, by 2026 the Yukon would be sending millions — maybe even tens or hundreds of millions — of dollars to Ottawa in the form of transfer payments. Yes, he wants the Yukon to be so prosperous and self-sufficient in 10 years that they become a ‘have’ territory — or in his words, a ‘net contributor to Canada.’ But, as it stands today, that’s an ambitious goal.”

Mr. Speaker, no kidding — under the economic leadership of this government, the Yukon’s economy has stalled. It has shrunk three years in a row, in fact. The budget tabled this year shows Yukon generating only 12 percent of our total revenue. The rest comes from Ottawa and other sources.

Will the Premier confirm that Yukon generates only one-tenth of its own budget revenue?

Hon. Mr. Hassard: Yes, it is a long-term goal of this government, and I’m happy to say that. I’m very proud of the fact that the Premier has said that.

In order to do that, we need to continue to do the hard work that we’re doing. We need to continue to diversify the Yukon. We need to continue to do the hard work, the training, and do all of the things that this government is currently doing so that when the economics of the world turn around, the Yukon will be in a better place than it was when we went into this downturn.

Mr. Silver: In the five years that Yukon Party 2.0 has been in office, the needle hasn’t moved in terms of generating more local income. It’s not continuing — they need to start to do this. In fact, over the last 14 years of the Yukon Party being in office, the amount of local revenue as a percentage of our budget has actually dropped from 13.7 percent to 12.1 percent.

Corporate income tax generated locally over the last year has dropped by almost half. It was down from $26 million to just $14 million. We also know that the federal payments from Ottawa have increased steadily in the last five years and are at record levels. So while the Premier likes to paint a picture of the Yukon standing on its own two feet financially, the reality is quite different.

Is the Premier prepared to admit that, or is it just too inconvenient of a truth for an election year?

Hon. Mr. Hassard: It is no secret that world markets are down, as I’ve said before. It’s not just the Yukon, Mr. Speaker, that is in this situation. We see it all across this country and all across the world. That’s why I said we continue to do the good work that we do. We continue to invest in infrastructure; we continue to invest in education.

When the economy does turn around in the world — and it will, Mr. Speaker — I’m very confident that the Yukon will be situated in a great place.

Mr. Silver: We are the only jurisdiction in Canada with three years of economic decline. After 14 years of the Yukon Party being in power, we’re actually further away from that goal of paying our way forward.

The Premier and the Minister of Economic Development won’t admit it because it contradicts their message that the Yukon is a good fiscal manager of our government. That’s an inconvenient truth in an election year, and the Premier simply doesn’t want to talk about it.

The article in Up Here magazine should probably have been entitled “Fantasy Island” as opposed to “Fortune Teller”. Despite years of talk and years of promises, we are as dependent on Ottawa to keep our lights on as ever. Why should anyone believe the Premier’s promises of paying our own way? After 14 years of Yukon Party government, the needle hasn’t even moved.

Hon. Mr. Pasloski: This party has and will continue to stand up for Yukoners, Mr. Speaker. I take note and Yukoners take note that the first question in this session that the Liberal leader put forward wasn’t a question, but it was in fact to stand up to defend the cuts in the anticipated transfers from the federal Liberal government.

Mr. Speaker, this party is committed to, more than ever, standing up for our resource industry because we know that, for every mining job that there is in this territory, we see five or six other jobs created in this territory. That’s why we will continue to focus on it and we’ll stand very proudly for the record that we have had since coming into power.

As I have stated, since 2000, we have seen 6,000 people move into this territory. We’ve seen unemployment rates drop from being double-digit to being among the lowest in the country. We’ve seen average weekly earnings continue to rise — in fact, 39 percent between 2000 and 2014. This party, the Yukon Party, will continue to stand up and have a vision for the future to see that we pay our own way and we will do what is right for Yukoners.