Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for June 29, 2012

Parks Canada cuts called threat to economy

The Tourism Industry Association of Yukon (TIA Yukon) says it’s “very concerned” with the federal government’s decision to cut 30 of the 110 Parks Canada employees in the Yukon – almost 28 per cent of its presence in the territory.

By Whitehorse Star on June 29, 2012 at 4:00 pm


Photo by Whitehorse Star

Neil Hartling

The Tourism Industry Association of Yukon (TIA Yukon) says it’s “very concerned” with the federal government’s decision to cut 30 of the 110 Parks Canada employees in the Yukon – almost 28 per cent of its presence in the territory.

The organization warns this will have major consequences for the Yukon’s tourism industry and overall economy.

“The Government of Canada may save a few dollars with these cuts, but by doing so, the Yukon will lose millions in direct and indirect revenue that comes from visitor spending associated with Parks Canada sites,” TIA Yukon chair Neil Hartling said Thursday.

“Think about the business owners who offer accommodations, retail and food services to visitors who go to and from these attractions.

“If the attractions become less attractive to tourists because there are less services provided, how can this not result in less visitor traffic, and ultimately, less business?”

According to a report compiled by the federal government last year, titled The Economic Impacts of Parks Canada, Parks Canada sites in the Yukon produced almost $6.9 million in direct revenue in 2009.

The same year, Parks Canada also contributed $10.2 million to the Yukon’s GDP, generated $7.5 million in labour income, created the equivalent of 145 full-time jobs and brought in $600,000 in tax revenue to the territory.

Many tourism operators who own businesses near Parks Canada sites have expressed their concerns about the impending cuts and believe that the federal government should reconsider its decision.

“Our members have a right to be worried,” said Blake Rogers, TIA Yukon’s executive director.

“Parks Canada handles a huge amount of tourism product in the territory and now all of a sudden, the funding it needs to function properly is being taken away.

“Who’s going to fill this gap? Does the federal government expect the territorial government to pick up the pieces? Will it fall to the private sector?

“You can’t just saw a leg off a table and expect it to stand up as well as it once did. What’s the plan here?”

The Yukon Chamber of Mines has warned the territory can expect close to a 40-per-cent downturn in mining exploration from last year, TIA Yukon noted.

Many Yukoners have expressed the need to diversify the economy, the group said. As an economic driver, tourism has been proven to provide a strong return on investment, both territorially and nationally.

“In the past, when commodity prices were low, it was the tourism industry that kept the Yukon afloat,” said Hartling.

“Yukon’s MP (Conservative Ryan Leef) has said these cuts to Parks Canada won’t impact tourism in the territory, but the report released by his government last year clearly proves that it does,” Hartling added.

“When many of TIA Yukon’s members in communities like Dawson City and Haines Junction, who’ve been operating in the area for years, tell us they will be affected by the cuts to Parks Canada sites, our MP needs to listen to what they’re saying. This is their lifeblood that we’re talking about.”

On top of the economic impact that the Parks Canada has on many of the Yukon’s small businesses and communities, TIA Yukon said, most Yukoners also recognize the cultural and historical significance of the artifacts and sites that Parks Canada oversees.

“How many families have learned about Yukon history and culture by taking a guided tour of Dredge #4 or the SS Klondike over the years?” asked Rogers.

“How many have had the chance to enjoy a hike in Kluane, knowing that the park would be well-maintained and that search and rescue was only a call away if an accident happened?

“Parks Canada staff work hard to tell the story of the Yukon by preserving and showcasing many of the things that are part of our territory’s identity, the things that make the Yukon special. Now, many of these staff are being shown the door.”

TIA Yukon is encouraging all Yukoners to visit a Parks Canada site over the long weekend to see how the visitor experience can be enhanced through the services that Parks Canada provides.

As things now stand, this will be the last summer for Yukoners and visitors to take part in guided tours of sites like Dredge #4 and the SS Klondike, where TIA Yukon held a news conference Thursday afternoon to discuss its worries.

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CommentsAdd a comment


Jun 29, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Hartling is correct. Once global mineral prices return to their norms we’ll see mining and exploration evaporate.  Tourism has been the only industry that delivers year after year.  Yukon will be in a worse position that before the last boom.

Of course Leef can’t see beyond the whip and his pension.


Jun 29, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Wow, it’s funny to see where our governments priorities lie…

1. for ever dollar they contribute to their pension, taxpayers contribute $24.95; leaving average CPP at $500 a month and their average pension pay at $5,000 a month.(go to cnews.com, seriously just read this story five seconds ago)

2.Cut budgets and spending on our parks and lower environmental standards. They say this won’t impact our tourism (which is a large portion of income in the Territory) but people usually come to the Yukon for pristine nature.

Why don’t they keep the budget for parks (or even increase it) by dipping into their ridiculous pension?


Jun 29, 2012 at 11:55 pm

The government could save more by cutting 10 bureaucrats in Ottawa than cutting 30 workers in the Yukon.

Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work to preserve the organization itself.  In all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions.

June Jackson

Jul 2, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Putting aside a moment the impact on the ecology and economy,  there are other societal impacts when people who are well employed, suddenly become unemployed.  People have nervous breakdowns, can’t pay their mortgage, having always been a gentle man, worry and really not understanding ‘why me’..might lead to some family violence.. mental health costs are going to go up as well as those who exhaust their savings and turn to some social assistance… 28-35 jobs are a lot of jobs in a small community like this.  Not to mention the impact on people laying awake all night after night wondering if its going to be them.. all since of security and safety is gone.  Harper is such a buffoon.

I made a mistake to vote for Ryan.. apparently, he is strictly a ‘vote with the party” boy.


Jul 3, 2012 at 8:55 pm

June Jackson

Your comments were excellent. Losing employment has a very high social cost. At the Canada Day swearing in of new Canadians it struck me that Ryan Leef has done a very poor job as our MP and Danny Lang does not deserve to be our Senator. Both may draw outrageous pensions which are unfair to all Canadians.

All the Harper government had to do was say oops, the recession caught us by surprise and we have to keep the GST as it is or increase income tax. Many thousands of federal jobs could have been eliminated as people retired.

The Conservative government has got to go before we see democracy fade - if they stay in power it may be like looking backwards to an era in which Canadians were treated like slaves by a privileged class.

Harper has gotten Bev Oda to step down, maybe Peter Mackay is next. The conservative party is already running attack ads against the new NDP leader. I say they are running scared already.

Thank You Feds&Southern Taxpayers

Jul 4, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Thank you federal government for the continued handouts that make the Yukon the comfortable welfare territory that it is. Thank you feds (and taxpayers of southern Canada) for the billions of dollars you continue to funnel into this territory that support either directly or indirectly every single Yukoner and the standard of living we all enjoy today.
Unfortunately this generosity has created people that live here who think it is all owed to them somehow. They think all they have to do is whine and snivel whenever the reality that the rest of Canada has to face comes and knocks on our door once in a very great while.
Thirty jobs out of the hundreds or thousands of jobs in the territory that federal tax transfers support disappear and you’d think the territory had been mugged. Everyone is ready to lynch the MP, PM and our Senator. Gosh, can you imagine if a real funding problem ever hit this territory?
Thanks feds from this citizen, if it wasn’t for your massive handouts most the people in the territory whining right now wouldn’t even be here.


Jul 4, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Thirty some-odd jobs being cut will have no impact on anything.


Jul 5, 2012 at 12:00 pm

@ Wayne

30 jobs is 30 families.
30 jobs is 30 houses.
30 jobs is 3 million removed annually from the economy over night.
30 jobs is tourism services gone from some of Yukon’s global icons: mining (the dredge) and the Gold Rush (paddlewheeler)

Michael McLarnon

Jul 5, 2012 at 4:24 pm

This is a reminder to Parks Canada and Ryan Leaf that things can be different. I was a contractor that gave 75% more tours to more than 120% more people than the S.S. Klondike has offered over the last three years. I actally paid the government for the ability to provide this service to the Yukon and to our heritage. Seven years ago you could take your family on a tour every half hour between 10 to 7, and if you spoke French you would have less than a 45 minute wait.

Today you will pay 100% more without a guide and have less time on the ship.

I feel that an important service component has been forgotten by TIAY and Parks Canada. Our history is based more on the stories than on the object, I ask the Yukon public to tell Parks Canada that alternative service is better than no sevice. Those poor people who lost their jobs should be able to continue to teach us all.

Mike McLarnon

Kevin J Mellis

Jul 5, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Sadly, the reality hits hard when one FINALLY realizes they NO LONGER have a voice! And that’s exactly what’s happened when the Yukon SADLY AND UNFORTUNATLY voted in Mr. Ryan Leef - your current Federal MP.

Wake up Yukon! He’s NOOOOOT representing you! He’s smothering you!!!!!!! These cuts and many more like these are just around the corner! Unless EVERYONE BANDS TOGETHER AND SPEAKS UP AGAINST THESE CUTS no one else will hear you -because you no longer have a voice!!!!!!! TRUE STORY!

Jackie Ward

Jul 6, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Canada’s Economic Action Plan in full swing. Weeeeeee.


Jul 7, 2012 at 7:14 am

Those are entirely different issues than
the one in the article.

Michael McLarnon

Jul 8, 2012 at 10:09 am

Dear Yukoners,

The cuts should be no surprise. Parks Canada has been reducing services at these sites for years. There was a time when the services were offered by contractors at the S.S. Klondike for less money to the visitors, more hours of operation and with additional services. When Parks Canada had it’s funding restored they cut out the contractor and reduced services. It is a shame that they do not consider accessibility before bureaucratic control. Parks Canada has done a great job in preserving and presenting these heritage sites but they have done a horrible job in allowing the public to access them.

Mr. Leef, if you want to solve this problem for the Yukon tourism industry on a sustainable basis then do not go cap in hand for more money, it will just be wasted. Instead ask Parks Canada to examine different business models that can allow these services to be provided and let the tourism industry continue to exist, this really should be an economic question rather than a political one. For 20 years the tours on the S.S. Klondike were operated by a private contractor. The federal government actually made money under this arrangement. When your government needs every cent it can get and it is supposedly for small business then it is time to tell the senior management of a very bloated Parks system to find a different way to offer services.

Mike McLarnon


Jul 8, 2012 at 9:31 pm

The government was elected with a promise to cut spending.  The bureaucrats were told to make budget cuts.  What to cut was up to departmental administration.  If you don’t like how the cuts were made blame the bureaucrats not the MPs.

Less funding + No plan = More dependence on Ottawa

Jul 9, 2012 at 2:43 pm

According to the article, sites overseen by Parks Canada in the Yukon have been proven to make money for the Yukon’s economy.  Yes we should be happy for the funds that the feds send our way, but let’s look at the big picture here: by cutting these services, the feds are in effect cutting initiatives that help generate money for the territory.  It only makes sense for the feds to continue this funding as it reduces Yukon’s reliance on the federal government in the long run.  Cutting the investment will only increase our dependence on Ottawa over time.

As for turning things over to the private sector, yes this is a possible solution, but the federal government made no plan at all to try to facilitate this arrangement before it decided to make these massive cuts.  If there was a plan to transition things to the private sector, more should have been done before the cuts were announced.  Doing so now is only an afterthought.  After years of spending millions of dollars to maintain and operate these sites, the feds decided to just rip the carpet out and walk away.

If these sites were currently owned by a private company and it decided to sell these assets (proven revenue generators) at the drop of a hat, with no explanation and no plan, people would question why the company was displaying such bad business sense.  The same question should be put to the federal government for the way it’s approached this issue.

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