Dear Mr. Thompson:
In his May 6th Pointed View your columnist got it half right regarding the recession the Yukon currently finds itself in. Mineral prices may be bigger than Yukon, but government does have a role to play when creating a climate for investment.
As the Yukon Party has only recently learned; the Yukon government cannot control mineral prices. However, for the duration of the good times the Yukon Party continued to take credit for the Yukon’s strong economy, one former Minister went so far as to say “Yukon’s climb to the top of the rankings has absolutely nothing to do with world mineral prices; it has everything to do with us — this government — making the changes necessary to restore investor confidence in the Yukon.” It only stands to reason that if the government wants to congratulate itself, than it should also share the responsibility of the decline in our economic growth, especially when their actions are what are causing the loss of investor confidence.Read more
Mr. Silver: Last week, Statistics Canada confirmed what many Yukoners already know. We are in a made-in-Yukon recession. Under this government, Yukon has the worst performing economy in Canada and our GDP has shrunk two years in a row. No other jurisdiction in Canada can claim that dubious honour.
In last year’s budget, the Premier promised to undertake a red tape review for the regulatory burden facing Yukon businesses and provide a report on measures to reduce this burden. That commitment is now over a year old and has not been acted upon. Given our dismal economic performance in the last 24 months, small businesses need all the help they can get.
So Mr. Speaker, why has this commitment from last year’s budget not been met yet?Read more
Mr. Silver: Mr. Speaker, this week, Statistics Canada confirmed that we are in a recession. Yukon had the second worst GDP numbers in Canada in 2014, at negative-1.2-percent growth. On the other hand, GDP increased in British Columbia, Northwest Territories and Nunavut in 2014. Yesterday, the Premier blamed the downturn on mining. Let’s look at the neighbours and mining, Mr. Speaker. Northwest Territories’ GDP grew 6.8 percent and mining was up 21 percent. Nunavut’s GDP grew 6.2 percent in 2014. Mining increased by 9.9 percent. British Columbia’s GDP rose 2.6 percent — nickel, lead, zinc, ore mining all rose by 27 percent, mainly because of a new mine.
Our neighbours all saw economic growth last year and they all saw improvements in the mining sector. They are dealing with the same world mineral prices. Why is Yukon in decline when our neighbours are growing?Read more
Mr. Silver: For many years, the Yukon Party insisted that the upturn in our economy was due to its great management in the territory. This was particularly true of the mining industry. The Yukon Party has also taken credit during the good times. They have been unwilling, however, to accept any blame for the current economic slowdown that we are in. A report yesterday from Statistics Canada shows that our economic growth has stalled under this government. For the second year in a row, our economy has actually shrunk. In 2014, it shrunk by 1.2 percent. By most economists’ definitions, we are now in a recession.
Does the Premier accept responsibility for the fact that our economy has gotten smaller two years in a row, under his government’s watch, and that the Yukon is now in a recession?Read more
WHITEHORSE – Liberal Leader Sandy Silver is calling on the Yukon Party to take responsibility for Yukon’s continuing economic decline.
According to a Statistics Canada report released this morning Yukon’s GDP fell by 1.2% in 2014.
“This is the second year in a row we have seen Yukon’s GDP fall; the previous year we had the worst growth in the country. The Yukon Party loves to take credit when times are good and we’ll see if they are willing to take any responsibility for these latest numbers,” said Silver. “Yukoners will recall the 2014 Yukon Economic Forecast, announced in September 2013, predicted growth of 8.8% for 2014.”Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Premier. This morning, the Yukon Supreme Court rejected the government’s unilateral approach to developing a land use plan in the Peel watershed. This follows on the heels of a 2012 court decision the Yukon government lost to the Ross River Dena Council. Now that is two major legal strikes against this government in just three years. The government is currently championing Bill S‑6, which makes major changes to YESAA. Yukon First Nations have said that they will go to court if this bill becomes law. At the same time, the president of Casino Mining Corporation says that S-6 is having a negative effect on the territorial mining industry because it has no support from the First Nations. This government is not doing well when it comes to the courts.
Will the Premier agree to ask the Government of Canada to pull Bill S‑6 so that Yukoners can avoid another lengthy and costly court battle?Read more
This past Wednesday the Yukon Legislative Assembly unanimously passed a motion I introduced supporting the designation of the Klondike as a UNESCO world heritage site.
The Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation is leading the way on working towards this designation. A diverse community-based advisory committee has been assembled for this project and it is reflective of the significant economic opportunity that a UNESCO designation would present at a local and territorial level. A UNESCO world heritage site is defined as “places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity and as such, have been inscribed on the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.” I think we can all agree the Klondike fits this description.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: 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: 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