Whitehorse Daily Star

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COVID, FLOODS SWELL SPENDING – Premier and Finance Minister Sandy Silver speaks in the Yukon legislature last Thursday afternoon.

Extra spending added to $1.786-billion budget

The Yukon government introduced its supplementary budget estimates last Thursday, the opening day of the fall legislative sitting.

By Tim Giilck on October 12, 2021

The Yukon government introduced its supplementary budget estimates last Thursday, the opening day of the fall legislative sitting.

Premier and Finance Minister Sandy Silver said they include increases of $58.4 million in operations and maintenance and $13.8 million in gross capital expenditures.

Early last March, shortly before calling the April territorial election, Silver tabled a record budget valued at $1.786 billion for the current fiscal year. That was comprised of an estimated $1.35 billion for operations and maintenance costs, and a record $434 million for capital works projects.

Supplementary estimates are used annually by a government to account for spending that is unforeseen at the time of setting the annual budget. 

Silver said the spending boosts are largely the result of COVID-19 spending, the response to the record flooding this past summer and additional support for families accessing early learning and childcare programs, including:

• nearly $21 million to support the tourism and aviation sectors, as well as public health measures in response to COVID-19;

• more than $11 million to support the response to the recovery of the Southern Lakes and Lake Laberge floods; and

• almost $10 million for the Yukon’s univeral Early Learning and Childcare intiatives, an increase that is 100 per cent recoverable from the federal government.

Other spending involves:

• $3.7 million to develop rural lots in rural communities such as Haines Junction, Dawson City and Watson Lake;

• $2.4 million to create modular classrooms at the Robert Service School in Dawson;

• $1.7 million for renovations needed at Copper Ridge Place; and

• $1 million for program increases under the Innovative and Renewable Energy Initiative that will help increase the supply of renewable energy and reduce diesel consumption.

“We’re very thankful to be back in the legislative assembly,” Silver said in a news conference last Thursday.

“We’ve been busy; there’s been a lot of work since the spring.

“The supplementary budget I introduced today is focused on the support of Yukoners as we continue to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and getting on to that pathway to recovery,” the premier added.

“It’s also about supporting Yukoners who were impacted by the flooding this summer. We have mounted the greatest relief ever this summer.”

Silver said he’s looking forward to debating the budget over the next few weeks.

“We’ll definitely get into the nitty-gritty of the budget. The floods were a massive expense, and as we move from relief to recovery, there will be some added expenses there. There’s a lot of different pressures on the budget.”

With a total of $72.2 million in new expenditures, the First Supplementary Estimates represent an increase of four per cent in additional spending over the 2021-22 main estimates.

This increase is offset by $49.4 million in recoverable funding from Canada and third-parties.

The 2021-22 Interim Economic and Fiscal Update was also released last Thursday.

The mid-year update shows that while COVID-19 continues to impact communities around the world, the Yukon anticipates that the territory’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will grow by six per cent in 2021 and 8.1 per cent in 2022.

“Our government remains focused on supporting Yukoners, whether that means helping individuals and Yukon businesses, investing in our resilient tourism industry or helping homeowners navigate an historic flooding event in our territory,” said Silver.

“The updated forecast shows that our economy remains strong as our territory forges ahead on the path to recovery from COVID-19. Thank you to the public health experts who we rely on to stay safe and to Yukoners at all levels that have contributed to strengthening our communities.”

The update shows that the removal of internal border restrictions and the loosening of international restrictions support the forecast of a recovery in local tourism activity, with visitations expected to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2023.

Job growth is forecast at 1.4 per cent in 2021 as employment growth is expected to pick up next year, partially based on a recovery of the tourism sector.

“Despite disruptions in the labour market over the last two years, household income has continued to grow, supported in large part by government income support,” the government said in a statement.

The average weekly earnings rose to $1,285 in June 2021, up 1.4 per cent from a year earlier.

“Growing incomes are translating into higher consumer spending,” the government said.

“Retail sales have completely recovered pandemic losses with 2021 on track to post another record level.”

Retail sales are now forecast at $980 million for 2021, 8.9 per cent higher than the forecast in the March outlook, reflecting stronger-than-expected sales to date.

Comments (19)

Up 1 Down 4

Sarah Davison on Oct 15, 2021 at 2:44 pm

The Yukon consumer price index was 4.2 percent in August.
So a 1.4 percent "wage increase" is actually a 2.8 percent pay cut in real terms.
Wages are declining.
That's not something to celebrate.
Unless you're a corporation intent on making profit off the backs of low-wage labour, preferably immigrant low-wage labour.
Within 25 years, workers will be earning nothing at this rate.

Up 3 Down 1

John on Oct 15, 2021 at 12:28 pm

@ Observer
Gee - did I touch a chord? Sensitive are we? I must have. Need a hug (to use one of your own phrases).
I was stating facts. Something you are short of when you make your assertions and allegations and innuendos.

Up 2 Down 6

Observer on Oct 15, 2021 at 12:04 pm

Numbers don't lie, politicians always say "I will be judged at the ballot box", how's that working out for you?
Not defending, yeah right, handed the Liberals a surplus sure sounded like you were defending someone.
Ha ha cons always spreading half truths, the sad thing is that some fall for it.

Up 4 Down 2

John on Oct 14, 2021 at 4:08 pm

@ Observer

Getting hot in the kitchen? I ask you to provide substantive proof and of course you deflect. Ha, ha, ha. I knew you would.

By the way I am not defending anyone - it is you who is attempting to defend the current government that is in total disarray and inept at managing the finances of our territory. The proof is not what I say about this but rather the ongoing scandals (like education) and of course the deficit spending that continues to pile on higher than Everest.

Sorry my friend it is you who has been brain-washed and oblivious of the current reality.
Have a good weekend...

Up 3 Down 8

Observer on Oct 14, 2021 at 2:33 pm

You are defending a government whose leader finished last in his riding. The vast majority of true Yukoners rejected that so called Yukon Party governments management of everything including hard working taxpayer dollars.
In my experience, trying to convince cons of anything is fruitless and I have no illusion that I will do it in this case. Continue to try to pull the wool over Yukoners eyes, I will note the so called Yukon Party has not formed government since.

Up 8 Down 5

John on Oct 14, 2021 at 12:17 pm

@ non-Observer

Well my friend, I was born and raised here and remember the days of independent MLA's. Your view of the Crown Corps is false. If you are going to go to the trouble of noting what you have said then put some "actual" facts to your claim. Also I suggest you go to the archives in YTG and pull up the Mains and Supps during the period prior to these jokers took office to see what "I" am referring to. In short do your homework.
The Liberals are notoriously (specifically here, Ontario, Ottawa, etc) not good money managers. In fact they don't manage money they simply spend it !!! Of course if you classify that as money management then go at it - it will be a new definition that will likely bring a lot smiles to some folks who know better.

Up 5 Down 3

Anonymous on Oct 13, 2021 at 9:07 pm

Wow! Observer. Can you please tell me the meaning of stereotype? Probably not. I guess anyone who has political values that do not match your own obviously perfect view of the world, must be living the high life not caring about raising a family or trying to take care of others. Yes! That means we all go to golf courses and take luxurious trips. Hahaha! Wish that were actually true for those of us who actually work incredibly difficult jobs and have come from nothing! Good job!

Up 4 Down 4

Observer on Oct 13, 2021 at 7:53 pm

There are a very few so called Yukon Party apologists on this story trying vainly to rewrite history. The so called Yukon Party when last in power were notorious for having crown corporations take on what was rightly government debt, especially for large projects (new hospitals, power generators, etc.). Even then the books were so cooked to show any sort of noticeable surplus that it was the folly of many follies during that humorous period in our history.
The bottom line is that cons spend tax dollars on themselves and their insider friends. I am not saying the Liberals don't do that, they do spread the generosity of the southern taxpayer around a bit better though. I know they are trying to spread the very large myth that somehow or other cons are better money managers, when is actual fact they are the opposite, mainly because of bad decision making.

Up 5 Down 4

Observer on Oct 13, 2021 at 7:38 pm

Johnny boy, not sure if you were around during the last so called Yukon Party government? They were notorious for having crown corporations take on the government debt responsibility for large projects.

Up 9 Down 6

John on Oct 13, 2021 at 4:22 pm

@ observer

Your handle does not belay someone who is "observant". The YP handed the Liberal's a debt free treasury. In fact there was surplus.
Shake your head - but I do suggest you wear ear plugs so as to not give yourself a headache from the rattle you are likely to create.

Up 6 Down 2

Charlie's Aunt on Oct 13, 2021 at 4:14 pm

@ Juniper; Also wondering on the average wage stated. If $66,000 plus p.a. is the average some must have pretty fancy jobs when you consider how many work in big box stores for minimum wage.

Up 10 Down 12

Observer on Oct 13, 2021 at 11:56 am

Neo cons make me laugh, when taxpayers funds are being spent on their golf courses or to buy contaminated property off of con insiders, there is not a peep from the so called Yukon Party faithful.

Up 29 Down 3

jack on Oct 12, 2021 at 10:06 pm

''$1.35 billion for operations and maintenance costs''
aka as salaries and benefits to governments workers.

Up 23 Down 4

Josey Wales on Oct 12, 2021 at 6:23 pm

Geez...that is a whole lotta money.
Sure comforting to know, that budgets balance themselves.
Must be so much extra due to anticipating epic lawsuits maybe?

Up 25 Down 5

Juniper Jackson on Oct 12, 2021 at 5:42 pm

The only part of anything Silver said that I believe would be the part about even more spending of taxpayer money. That means, in the bigger picture, that Ottawa will have to send us more money and increase our taxes to do so. The average weekly earnings are $1275. I do not believe it. (Government employee's excepted.) Who is looking at $1275. dollars a week? The Liberal history is peppered with untruths, misleading comments, evasion. That is particularly true of their financial statements.

Up 28 Down 3

Al on Oct 12, 2021 at 4:28 pm

So lets' see - "follow the money". The Main 21/22 Budget tabled in the Spring projected a deficit of 175.4 million. Now we add an additional 22.8 million from the first supplementary just tabled (supplementary number 2 will be tabled in the spring of 22). The trend - by their own documents for 22-23 is a deficit of 255.3 and for the year thereafter it is a whopping 330.5 million. We see no pay down on the deficit - instead a slow but steady quick sand approach of ever increasing deficits.
Now we will need to add this 22.8 PLUS to the 330.5 (which affects future deficits the Liberals throw at us to the bottom line). Revenues are increasing (likely the transfer payment formula is the major factor here) significantly. So ask yourselves if we are receiving more funding each of the three years and our deficit is increasing - where in the hell is the money going ? This isn't pocket change folks we are talk close to half a billion dollars !

Again - where is it going ????

Up 39 Down 6

TheHammer on Oct 12, 2021 at 3:20 pm

Money grows on trees. Remove the trees and its the end of the economy and the planet. This is a lesson in economic climate catastrophe, not unrelated to the eating of bats.

Up 52 Down 6

TMYK on Oct 12, 2021 at 3:10 pm

I would love to know how much of that $21 Million has gone directly to NVD?

Up 54 Down 6

Ted Howard on Oct 12, 2021 at 2:59 pm

Mr. Silver forgot to mention the $500 Million for salaries. That is always conveniently left out in the speeches.

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