Question re: Economic growth - April 13, 2016

Mr. Silver: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. In early March, the Yukon Party had taxpayers pay for a flyer that was mailed across the territory. It was a report to Yukoners that tried to make the case that this government is growing our economy. Our economy has in fact shrunk over the last three years. Taxpayers are also paying to promote the Premier’s budget in ads on Facebook. In bold letters, there’s a quote from the Premier: “Government needs to support the economy, not become the economy.” I couldn’t agree more, Mr. Speaker. Unfortunately, just the opposite is happening in today’s Yukon. Under the failed economic policies of this government, private sector jobs have dropped by 600 in the last year and private sector jobs have increased by 500. Under the Yukon Party government, the private sector is shrinking and the public sector is growing. The government’s own statistics prove that. Mr. Speaker, why are taxpayers covering the costs for these misleading ads?

Hon. Mr. Pasloski: It is important for the government to communicate with citizens in this Yukon Territory, as the other two parties do on a regular basis as well, Mr. Speaker. What the piece of literature that the Leader of the Liberal Party was talking about was really very important because what it did was stated to Yukoners and showed very graphically what we have delivered on all our campaign commitments from 2011. We have either completed them or we’re doing them. Here is a party that not only talks the talk but walks the walk. I got into politics simply because — one of the reasons was I was tired of politicians who made lots of promises and then failed to deliver. This is a party that made commitments and has delivered on those commitments.

Mr. Silver: I got into politics too, Mr. Speaker, because of a rec centre promise to my community, but we’ll save that for another day. Mr. Speaker, the Yukon Party likes to pretend that it’s a champion for the private sector. When we go beyond that — the taxpayers’ ads — the real story is plain to see. Last year, despite record spending from this government and record transfers from Ottawa, the number of private sector jobs dropped by 600 people. What is growing under this government’s watch is the public sector — across the territory it is up 500 since this time last year. Over the same period the percentage of people working in the private sector has also dropped, while the percentage of people working for the government has increased. The public sector now employs 45.5 percent of working people in the Yukon. That’s up from 43 percent just a year ago. Under the Yukon Party, the government is becoming the economy. No matter how many Facebook ads the government buys, it’s not going to change that. Why has this government failed to grow the private sector?

Hon. Mr. Pasloski: What we heard is something that the public sector should get very fearful about. Look out, public sector. The public sector Yukoners want to know what jobs that the Liberal Party will cut when they come into power. Will it be teachers? Will it be nurses? Will it be people who look after our roads or our education assistants? That’s what Yukoners want to know when it comes to the Liberal Party. Let’s also talk about long-term care. We heard yesterday that the Liberal leader would cancel the very much-needed long-term care facility in Whitehorse and what he would do is he will build one in all the communities. There are only two outcomes to that statement. One is the absolute bankruptcy of this government; the second one would be that he would just break his promise.

Mr. Silver: Mr. Speaker, the Premier in both his budget speeches at the Chamber of Commerce and also his second budget speech here in the House is desperately clinging to this notion that this government is growing the economy and growing the private sector. Neither of these claims is backed up by the government’s own stats. The government’s own economic forecast says that our economy has been in decline for three years in a row and that makes it the worst performing jurisdiction in all of Canada. Our economy has gotten smaller. Our private sector has gotten smaller as well. There are fewer private sector jobs than a year ago — 600 fewer — and the Premier will not address that issue. Why won’t the Premier simply level with Yukoners instead of continuing to pretend that the private sector is growing?

Hon. Mr. Pasloski: Mr. Speaker, I have already said it once today and here is an example. The Liberal leader is again living under a rock. Sadly he has no understanding of the economic forces that are at play. This government continues to invest and is applauded by the Chamber of Commerce for our tremendous investment in capital to create jobs and build infrastructure for the future. They have just commended us on it. We will continue to focus on our regulatory and permitting processes. We will continue to focus on our regulatory and permitting processes. We will continue to focus on diversifying our economy through the creation of a knowledge economy with fibre optic. With expansion of Yukon College, we’ll continue to invest in all those infrastructure programs and training programs. We will come out of this downturn, Mr. Speaker, in a very good position and we’re very confident and, as I said in the budget speech, my view of the territory’s future is very, very optimistic under a Yukon Party government.