Mr. Silver: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Earlier this week, the Premier received a scathing letter from the Chief of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in that accuses the Government of Yukon of “bargaining in bad faith” over mining rules. The chief went on to say, “As the 2016 mining season commences, TH is weighing the value of our continued participation in the negotiation process. We cannot point to any concrete gains from our months of engagement. Unless Yukon takes quick action to address the issues that we have been raising, we will be forced to conclude that the political will is just not there.”
Mr. Speaker, if the Government of Yukon’s relationship with Yukon First Nations is as good as it claims, why are we seeing letters like this arriving in the Premier’s mailbox?Read more
Mr. Silver: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Before the 2011 election, the Yukon Party candidate for Klondike held a sod-turning ceremony with a former minister of Community Services to announce that a re-elected Yukon Party government would build a brand new rec centre in Dawson City. As the government’s mandate winds down, it’s now clear that this long-standing Yukon Party commitment will not be fulfilled.
Mr. Speaker, why has the government broken the promise that it made with residents of Dawson City?Read more
Mr. Silver: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On April 20, 2015, the Government of Yukon put out a press release with the title, “Plans for a new Faro RCMP building move forward”. It said — and I quote: “The Government of Yukon is committing more than $3.5 million this year to construct a new RCMP facility in Faro… The project is now in the design phase, with construction expected to begin this summer.”
Construction did not start last summer as planned. This year, as we discuss this budget, there is only one dollar in the line item. Can the minister please explain the current status of this project?Read more
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?Read more
Mr. Silver: So far this Sitting, we’ve heard about several projects that the government said that it’s proceeding with and they all have one thing in common: the government has no idea how they’re going to pay for them. The proposed fibre optic line is one; the Whistle Bend continuing care facility and also the paving of the Dawson runway are also on the list as well.
I would like to add one more to that — the Keno-Stewart Crossing transmission line. First announced in 2014, the government has spent more than $5 million on this project to date. It is currently before YESAB for review. Originally pegged at about $40 million, the cost of this project has now ballooned to over $80 million before it has even started.
Mr. Speaker, will the minister confirm that the price tag is now at $86 million?Read more
Mr. Silver: Mr. Speaker, earlier this year one of the worst kept secrets in Yukon was finally brought out in the open — the WTF in Dawson would not be handed over to the city as promised. The reason — also not a secret — has been obvious for years: the waste-water facility doesn’t operate properly and the O&M is beyond the capacity of the city to manage. The Yukon Party and Yukon taxpayers have been left holding the proverbial bag. The City of Dawson has rightfully refused to take on this white elephant. In 2014 the government told Yukoners that this plant would cost $340,000 per year to operate.
Can the minister please confirm for the record that the cost to operate the facility is now over $2.4 million per year?Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Premier. In the last 18 months, there have been an unprecedented number of deputy ministers leaving this government for a variety of reasons. Two more were added to the list just weeks before this Sitting began. That brings the total number to at least 10 who have left since 2014. Some have quit, some have been fired and some have retired. This turnover comes with a cost to the taxpayer.
How much money has been paid out to cover severance packages for the 10 deputy ministers who have left this government since July 2014?Read more
Mr. Silver: Over the weekend, the Tourism ministry gathered to take a look at the upcoming season. They also took a look over their shoulders at last year’s season as well. For the longest time, the Government of Yukon monthly tourism stats were unavailable. Nothing past July was on the government’s website until last week. The new stats do reveal some interesting information, Mr. Speaker. For the second year in a row, border crossings are down across the board — Americans, Canadians and Yukoners.
Mr. Speaker, can the minister confirm that the annual border crossings were down four percent in 2015?Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development about a letter that he received this week from the president of the Screen Production Yukon Association. It was regarding a review of the Yukon government’s film funding programs. According to the letter, these programs are in desperate need of revision and reflection of the recent evolution in the industry. Digital media, in particular, is in dire need of incorporation into the Yukon film funding programs. The government has identified the requirement to review and update the current funding programs to address digital media, as well as other funding gaps, but it has not delivered on providing any solid process, timelines, road maps or otherwise to have such a task completed on time soon.
The government began its review a year ago and said programming will be updated in January of 2016. Mr. Speaker, why has the government missed its own deadline?Read more
Mr. Silver: I also have a question for the Premier about the Whistle Bend seniors facility.
Yesterday in Question Period, the Premier said he put a great deal of stock in what the Auditor General of Canada has to say about budgeting and Yukon’s finances. In 2013, the Auditor General released a scathing report on the Yukon Party’s fiscal mismanagement on the construction of two rural hospitals. In it, he was sharply critical of the decision to begin construction before knowing the operation and maintenance costs of these facilities. As the election looms, the Yukon Party is once again starting construction on a very large project — the Whistle Bend seniors facility — with no idea of what the operation and maintenance costs will be.
Mr. Speaker, why is the Yukon Party ignoring the advice of the Auditor General when it comes to financial management of projects?Read more