Mr. Silver: Mr. Speaker, in 2013, as a result of another legal battle with Yukon First Nation governments, the Yukon government was under a court order to find a way to work with the Ross River Dena Council on what land would be available for staking in their traditional territory. I asked the minister in November 2013 if he would be forced into placing a staking moratorium in Ross River traditional territory due to this court order. We didn’t hear an answer in the House; however, we did find out days after the legislative session concluded that this government was unable to reach an agreement with Ross River on what area would be withdrawn.
In lieu of said agreement, the entire 63,000-square kilometer area was taken off the table. The government has extended the staking ban more than once since then and it continues to be in place today. Is the government any closer to reaching an agreement after a year of negotiations?Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development. Last Wednesday Statistics Canada confirmed that Yukon has the worst economic growth of any jurisdiction in Canada for 2013. Our economy shrunk by almost one percent. The report also gave some insight as to why this government’s forecast on GDP numbers for 2014 have been drastically rolled back. After initially saying that our economy would grow by 8.8 percent in 2014, the latest forecast is only 1.7 percent — again one of the lowest in the country.
One of the reasons our economy slowed for 2013 was that a number of mining projects delayed decisions on construction and production. One of the projects the government was relying on in their forecast was the reprocessing of old tailings at the former Whitehorse Copper Mine site. However, on September 22, the company behind the project said that the project was not looking good. Does the minister expect this project to proceed for 2015?Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development. Just over a year ago, the minister issued a news release, patting the government on the back for its role in seeing the Yukon through yet another year of economic growth. There’s only one problem with the minister’s self-congratulations — he was incorrect and the final numbers weren’t yet in.
Yesterday, Stats Canada released their final GDP numbers for 2013 and Yukon’s economy actually shrank in 2013. In fact, we had the worst economic growth of any jurisdiction in Canada in 2013. Our economy shrank by almost a full percentage point.
The Yukon Party likes to take credit when things are going good, Mr. Speaker. We’ll see if they can accept the responsibility when they are not. Will the minister confirm for the public that the Yukon had the lowest economic growth of any jurisdiction in Canada in 2013?Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question about the new F.H. Collins Secondary School. When the government of Yukon decided to award the contract for construction of this school to an Alberta company, the minister said at that time — and I quote: “The final objective here was to tender a project that would create local jobs and promote economic activity.” Local companies told me at the time that they were quite worried with the decision to go with an outside contractor and that would probably result with very few local people getting hired. I did write the minister this fall to see if those concerns from those local companies had materialized.
Can the minister confirm that to date there have been only 29 Yukoners working on-site at the F.H. Collins replacement project?Read more
Mr. Silver: For two years now, I’ve been asking questions of this government’s plan to improve our Internet connections to the rest of the world. We have known what happens when our fibre optic line to the Outside is cut. The government’s preferred option for a secondary Internet connection would see a link from Whitehorse though Skagway to Juneau and then on to Seattle. The minister said this spring that this was his preferred option and the Premier reiterated their support in a letter to the editor recently.
Yesterday, the government of N.W.T. announced the construction of a fibre optic line from High Level, Alberta to Inuvik. This opens the possibility of creating a link from the Dempster corner through Inuvik instead of going through Seattle.
Mr. Speaker, is the government open to considering this all-Canadian option?Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Premier.
Many Yukoners no longer trust the government when it comes to affordable housing, and with good reason. They have been burned by this government too often and now they have no confidence in the minister. Over the last three years, we have seen this government’s lack of action result in criticism from housing advocates, the Chamber of Commerce, the Association of Yukon Communities, and several businesses as well.
We also saw the City of Whitehorse take the extraordinary step of asking for the removal of the current minister because of his unwillingness to work with them on affordable housing. In a statement yesterday, the Premier carefully avoided directly backing the minister, so I will ask him this question: Does the Premier have confidence in the housing minister?Read more
Mr. Silver: The Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in has been spearheading a project in Dawson that would see the Klondike region be designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Klondike was placed on Canada’s tentative list for consideration as a World Heritage Site in 2004. More than 150 sites were reviewed by experts, and 11 sites were selected. Very few places in the world are shortlisted, so the region is already in a very advantageous position compared to hundreds of other places that are interested in this prestigious honour.
I will start with an extremely simple question: Does the Government of Yukon support the Klondike becoming a World Heritage Site?Read more
Mr. Silver: I would like to go back to this government’s commitments on recycling that were clearly outlined in their election platform. The Premier told Yukoners before this session started that the government has fulfilled many of its commitments it has made to Yukoners. I would like to remind the Premier that there is still more work to be done.
Let’s go to page 15 of his platform and see what was promised for recycling: “…develop a goal of zero waste with a target of 50% waste diversion by 2015.” It has become clear that the minister responsible doesn’t even support that goal. He told Yukoners on October 1 that recycling was a personal responsibility and really had nothing to do with his government.
Will the Premier admit that his government’s commitment to 50-percent waste diversion by 2015 will not be met, especially now that our largest recycler has been seriously marginalized by a lack of funding?Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Premier. Many Yukoners have lost confidence in the minister responsible for Yukon Housing Corporation. Here is what the Yukon Chamber of Commerce had to say about the dealings with the minister: The decision to scrap the plans for 75 affordable housing units in Whitehorse could — and I quote: “erode the trust” in the request for proposals process. Here is a quote from the chair of the Chamber of Commerce — and I quote: “You really run the risk of having businesses ask the question of whether these government RFPs are worth bidding. What does it mean if they can simply overturn them? That’s not dealing in good faith.”
Does the Premier agree with the criticism from the chamber, or with his minister who says everything is fine on the affordable housing issue?Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Premier. It has now been three years since this government has taken office. The entire time, the government has been sitting on these millions of dollars in affordable housing from Ottawa. Plenty of time has passed for the minister responsible to find a way to spend this money and to address the obvious need in our territory and he has failed to do so. This summer a plan the government has been touting for some time was scrapped at the last minute.
My question is to the Premier: How long does he intend to allow the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation to fumble around on this file before replacing him?Read more