Revised - The Yukon Liberal Party and the NDP have entered into an agreement to work together in the legislature over the next two years.
Premier Sandy Silver and NDP Leader Kate White held a joint press conference late Wednesday afternoon to announce the arrangement,
which will expire in January 2023.
“We both appreciate the need for a stable government to guide theYukon at this time,” Silver told reporters.
“The territory has come a long way under a Liberal government, but we know there is also more work to be done.
“Throughout the recent election campaign, we saw many common threads between the Yukon NDP and our party.”
The agreement sets out common issues to be addressed, such as the provision of a safe drug supply and the creation of a safe injection site
by Aug. 1.
It calls for capping rent increases to one per cent this year, beginning May 1, and to limit the cap based on the rate of inflation going forward.
There’s a commitment to reinstate within 30 days the Individualized Education Plans for students that were cancelled by the Liberal
The agreement calls for creating Canada’s first public dental health plan by securing $500,000 for the remainder of this year.
It will then be fully funded beginning with the 2022-2023 fiscal year territorial budget.
Many of the commitments outlined in the agreement were key NDP platform commitments for the April 12 election.
White said she’s always found when government thinks about people when it make choices, it makes better choices.
She said she went to the negotiating table with those people in mind.
“Today we’ve struck a deal that secures results for them,” she said.
“It’s a deal that I am so proud of, and I look forward to working with Sandy and his team to implement it.”
White went on to list a number of priorities the two parties have agreed to focus on, including raising the minimum wage from $13.85 per hour to $15.20 an hour.
“We’ve pushed past climate targets that currently fall short and made a deal that will amend greenhouse gas emission reduction targets from
30 per cent to a 45 per cent reduction by 2030 based on 2010 emissions,” she said.
She pointed out the NDP election promise to create a walk-in mental health clinic that will be open seven days per week.
A special committee of the legislative assembly will be struck to look at electoral reform, she said.
“We’ve made it clear what our priorities are, and we’ve laid out a plan to make them happen,” White said.
“The collaboration between our respective teams will make life better for people in a concrete way.”
The agreement also addresses other matters other than what’s on the legislative agenda.
It, for instance, commits the NDP to appointing the deputy Speaker of the legislature, provided it retains its three seats.
The riding of Vuntut Gwitchin, won by NDP candidate Annie Blake in an April 19 judicial draw to break a 78-78 tie vote, is under an election challenge by the Liberals’ Pauline Frost.
There’s also a commitment to seek a seat for White at the Yukon Forum table. Silver has promised he will make the request to the First
Nation leaders in a letter on White’s behalf.
If you want to understand the issue, you need to be at the table listening to the conversations, she said.
“You have seen us agree that Yukon’s government needs to work for Yukoners. For all Yukoners,” said Silver.
“We agree that there are areas that need immediate attention – like increased addictions services to address the opioid crisis, like additional affordable housing, like taking action to fight climate change.”
Silver said the Liberals have always believed good ideas come from all sides of the legislative assembly.
“This agreement creates a more formal bridge between our two caucuses and will put these ideas into action,” the premier said.
Both Silver and White emphasized while they have the agreement, the NDP will still serve in opposition.
The party will continue to challenge the Liberals in the legisative assembly, just as it over the last 4 1/2 years.
Silver said negotiations with the NDP began in earnest after a short break following the election.
The legislature is expected to reconvene later this spring, with the retabling of the $1.8-billion budget that was not passed before the house was dissolved last month.
Silver said his next cabinet will be sworn in on Monday.
A Yukon Party representative has not been made available to the Star to comment on the agreement. The party planned a news conference
on the matter for later Thursday afternoon.