Mr. Silver: With regard to a second fibre optic link to the south through Juneau, yesterday the Minister of Economic Development said — and I quote: “I am committed to this project.”
Last year, the government awarded, without competition, a contract to a company to look into this project and that report recommended — and I quote: “that a privately owned company be established to implement a Whitehorse–Juneau fibre optic link with connections to Seattle as well as offer wholesale data and internet services in Whitehorse. The company will require a one-time grant of at least $12.8 Million to cover half of the startup costs and enable a viable business plan. The business plan assumes funding from both public and private sources, capacity sharing agreements with Northwestel, and a 10 year commitment from the Government of Yukon to purchase connection capacity from the new company.”
How does this plan for a $13-million subsidy to start a new company fulfill the Yukon Party’s commitment to maintain a level playing field in supporting small businesses?Read more
Mr. Silver: Last year, the government provided funding for a feasibility study for a second fibre optic line in the Yukon. Yukoners are well aware of what happens when a backhoe down south digs up the one line that we do have.
When the minister announced the project last year, he said — and I quote: “An alternate fibre optic link would improve the availability and reliability of communications services and enable competition and innovation in the telecommunications sector in Yukon.”
Mr. Speaker, the funding went to Dempster Energy Services, with no competition. I don’t believe that a copy of the funding arrangement has ever been made public. How much did the government provide for the study and what funding envelope specifically did this come out of?Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development. In 2013, the Yukon Party oversaw our GDP growth slip to only one percent. We had one of the lowest growth rates in all of Canada. The government also oversaw a 10-percent increase — or 700 new public sector government jobs — in the Yukon in 2013 — this, despite promises to focus on improving our private sector.
Last fall the minister produced an economic forecast that called for 8.8-percent GDP growth for 2014. That forecast was predicated on virtually every mineral property in the Yukon being operational this year. At that time, I and many Yukoners raised concerns about the forecast being wildly optimistic. Only five months later, the minister had issued a new forecast that said that the rate of growth would be 60 percent less than what the government was projecting.
Will the minister now admit that the fall’s forecast was unrealistic?Read more
Hansard, December 17, 2013
Mr. Silver: On December 9, the Government of Yukon released its monthly employment report. It confirmed what most Yukoners already know. Our private sector growth has stalled and is, in fact, shrinking. On the other hand, our public sector workforce is growing. The government’s own stats contradict the message that the government is trying to get out — namely, that our private sector economy is growing.Read more
Hansard November 28, 2013
Mr. Silver: The Yukon Party government has a little bit of a problem. Our economy is heading in the wrong direction and it has done very little to prepare for it. This year, we are 11th out of 13 places in Canada in terms of economic growth. A spokesperson for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business recently said there is a drop in optimism that they have found in their membership in the Whitehorse area over the past year.
In this year’s budget speech, the Premier said, “Our objective has been and continues to be to develop an economy that is less dependent upon government spending and more reliant on the private sector.” Can the Minister of Economic Development confirm that, in the last 12 months, private sector employment was down by 700 jobs, or 5.7 percent, from October of 2012?Read more
Hansard, November 14, 2014
Mr. Silver: After delaying the release of this year’s economic forecast for several months, it finally saw the light of day in September. We know the Yukon’s economy will grow only 0.6 percent this year and that will put us 11th out of 13 jurisdictions in Canada for 2013.Read more
Mr. Silver: Mr. Speaker, one issue that was highlighted in last year’s budget speech was the reliability or unreliability of our Internet service. At the time, the Premier said, and I quote: “…broadband capacity could be improved and there is no redundancy.”
This is an issue that the Liberal caucus has highlighted as well.
Despite the Premier’s lofty budget pronouncements, there was no funding to actually improve broadband capacity. Last fall, I asked the Minister of Economic Development what his government was going to do to address this issue. At that time, he said it was a private sector problem and really had nothing to do with the government. Earlier this year, the minister changed his opinion. At a luncheon, he announced the government would be funding a bankable feasibility study to examine an alternate fibre optic link to Juneau through Skagway.
How much money has been set aside, and when will this feasibility study be completed?Read more
Whitehorse: During the recent fall sitting Klondike MLA Sandy Silver used his time to press the government on a number of issues that are important to Yukoners. He also held meetings with constituents, industry groups, youth interested in climate change and attended the annual Geoscience Forum.Read more
Whitehorse: The Government of Yukon should broaden its horizons when it comes to sources of capital for the Yukon mining industry instead of solely relying on Chinese investment, says Klondike MLA Sandy Silver.Read more