Whitehorse: Our weakening economy, the Yukon Party’s habit of wasting money on mismanaged capital projects such as F.H. Collins, deteriorating relations with first nation governments and the government’s botched Bill 66 were the focus of the fall sitting for Klondike MLA, Sandy Silver. The loss of private sector jobs in the last 12 months is of particular concern, says Silver.
“The government has been coasting on high mineral prices for several years with no plan B in place and we are now feeling the effects of that lack of planning,” he said. “Private sector employment is down 4 per cent over this time last year and we just had our worst year in the past nine in terms of mineral exploration. The government has been unwilling to acknowledge the slowdown let alone respond to it.”
Another government initiative that will have a negative impact on our economy is Bill 66, the botched response to the Ross River court decision. The Council of Yukon First Nations and several First Nation Governments recently sent letters to the Premier outlining issues with the content of the bill as well as with the lack of consultation.
“The government’s decision to appeal part of the court decision will likely result in a moratorium on staking in the Ross River Dena Council traditional territory,” said Silver. “This will put a damper on an already slowing mining exploration business. The bill itself was rushed and has little support from either First Nation governments or the mining industry.”
The Cathers government’s inability to work with First Nations on Bill 66 was just the latest demonstration of the poor relationship between the two levels of government.
“I used my private members’ day motion to highlight the fact the Yukon Forum has basically ceased to exist under this government,” he said. “The Yukon Party’s adversarial approach to First Nation relations is costing us economically and socially. It is time for the government to rethink its divide and conquer approach.”
Silver also asked numerous questions about continuing cost-over runs and problems at several infrastructure projects including the F.H. Collins reconstruction, the Beaver Creek fire hall, the new Emergency Services Building in Whitehorse, the new hospitals in rural Yukon and the wastewater treatment facility in Dawson.
“We know at least $6 million has been wasted on the F.H. Collins project alone for example,” said Silver. “Many of these other projects have been over-budget and behind schedule as well or have not worked properly when completed. The Yukon Party continues to demonstrate it is incapable of managing taxpayers’ money wisely.”
Silver noted the sitting ended on a positive note with the release of the Needs Assessment for the Dawson City and Watson Lake hospital and the government’s decision to accept a recommendation that the hospitals use a collaborative model of health care delivery.
“This was the subject of another motion I raised this sitting and I’m pleased to see the government agree to move to a collaborative approach for the new hospitals,” he said. “This has been an issue in my community since the planning process began and I’m glad, better late than never, that the government has changed course.”
For additional information contact:
Jason Cunning 667-8942
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