Whitehorse Daily Star

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ROADMAPPING THE FUTURE – Premier Ranj Pillai and NDP Leader Kate White sign the new Confi dence and Supply Agreement during Tuesday morning’s news conference at the Jim Smith Building. The pact ensures the minority Liberal government’s survival into 2025, meaning there will be no territorial election before then.

‘I’m happy with the common ground’: Pillai

A renewed agreement between the Liberal government and the NDP sets initiatives to ban no-cause evictions, provide free transit for Whitehorse residents and build what would be the territory’s only walk-in health clinic.

By Ethan Lycan-Lang on February 1, 2023

A renewed agreement between the Liberal government and the NDP sets initiatives to ban no-cause evictions, provide free transit for Whitehorse residents and build what would be the territory’s only walk-in health clinic.

The renewed Confidence and Supply Agreement (CASA) also ensures the government will have enough support in the legislature to avoid an election until November 2025. It outlines 33 initiatives.

Meanwhile, the third party will be able to more easily advance legislative and policy initiatives outlined in the agreement. 

The leaders of both parties, Premier Ranj Pillai and the NDP’s Kate White, signed to extend the CASA at an announcement held Tuesday morning in downtown Whitehorse. The original CASA had been set to expire yesterday.

“Through collaboration over the past two years, we have made progress on a number of fronts,” Pillai said at Tuesday’s news conference.

He listed previous CASA accomplishments like a territorial dental plan, announced in December 2022, and advancing the Clean Energy Act. 

“We recognize that there is more work to be done, and we remain committed to working together to improve the lives of all Yukoners,” Pillai said. “I’m really happy with the common ground that we got.”

The initiatives included in the CASA, Pillai said, cover areas where the Liberal and NDP platforms had some overlap: housing, education, health care, affordability, the environment and reconciliation with Indigenous Yukoners. 

Policies and initiatives from the 2021 CASA will remain.

The $15.70 hourly minimum wage, for instance, will continue to rise annually based on Whitehorse’s Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Rent control, too, will remain in place – though it’s been modified.

Landlords will still be restricted to raise their rent annually based on the CPI, but that increase will be capped at a minimum of two per cent, and a maximum of five per cent. (The minimum figure is there in the event the CPI falls below that figure.)

More broadly on the housing front, the new CASA has committed the government to eliminate no-cause evictions – an illegal practice everywhere else in the country but Newfoundland and Labrador – and review the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.

“We have to modernize that piece of legislation,” Pillai said, adding that a balance of protections for landlords and tenants is essential.

Access to health care is another focus.

The two parties have committed to creating a walk-in health clinic in Whitehorse before January 2024. The territory is currently without a walk-in clinic.

With the Yukon’s waitlist for a family doctor numbering in the thousands, many Yukoners currently have no access to basic health care outside hospital emergency departments.

“I hear from Yukoners, who are spending hours in the emergency room to get a prescription renewed,” White said. “I know that by continuing to work together, we can do better.”

The government had committed to opening a walk-in clinic in Whitehorse last spring, but finding doctors proved a challenge and the facility never materialized.

That project was just another indicator of how difficult it’s been for the territory to recruit and retain doctors and nurses, something the new CASA also addresses.

Over the next three budgets, $2 million will be spent annually to recruit and retain health care professionals.

Recruitment has been an issue in rural education too, so $1 million a year will also be spent recruiting and retaining educators over the next three years.

The government will also work to cover expenses for fertility treatment and surrogacy. 

The agreement focuses on making life more affordable for Yukoners as well.

The territory will fund the City of Whitehorse to make public transit there free.

Though details on this funding aren’t available yet, the operating budget for Whitehorse Transit Services has consistently been just shy of $1.5 million annually since 2019.

Other financial relief is included.

The Yukon Child Benefit rate will increase annually based on inflation.

Those receiving social assistance will get a monthly $100 increase until a more comprehensive enhancement to social assistance rates is in place following a review.

Investments in renewable energy, and implementing updated mining legislation co-developed with Yukon’s First Nations communities are also initiatives outlined in the new CASA.

“The extended Confidence and Supply Agreement will allow again for strong, stable leadership to address the challenges Yukoners are facing,” Pillai told reporters at the Jim Smith Building.

He said housing, affordability, the environment, access to health care and education, and reconciliation are top priorities outlined in the agreement.

“Under the leadership of Kate White, the NDP has demonstrated a willingness to work with our government to improve the lives of Yukoners,” the premier said. 

The two parties first signed an agreement following the April 2021 election in which the Liberals lost their majority in the legislature, tying the Yukon Party with eight seats.

The agreement allowed the Liberals to form a minority government without fear of a non-confidence vote bringing it down.

In exchange, the NDP pushed policies and initiatives with government support, leading to the territory’s new dental plan, the rent caps and a supervised consumption site in downtown Whitehorse for Yukoners struggling with substance use issues.

“Since I was first elected (in 2011), my priority has always been to put Yukoners at the centre of my work, to hold them at the core of my decisions,” White said.

“We’re fiercely proud of what we were able to reach here and we’re proud of what it will mean for Yukoners.” 

Yukon Party Leader Currie Dixon said Tuesday the Liberal government has traded in its political platform for power by signing another agreement with the NDP. He said in an interview that Pillai needs to seek his own mandate from Yukoners and call a general election. (See separate story, p. 3.)

Pillai has said Yukoners want “stability” and he will not call a general election before the government’s current mandate ends in 2025.

The new CASA came into effect immediately Tuesday and will expire when an election is called following the approval of the 2025-26 budget in the spring of 2025. A general election must be held in November of that year.

The CASA, though similar, is not the same as a coalition government, a term Dixon has used in the past.

Beyond the initiatives outlined in the CASA, each party will pursue its own legislative agenda.

“I think Yukoners overwhelmingly, partisan politics aside, people at the end of the day when you go to their door are going, ‘Can you folks just work together for us?’” Pillai said.

“That doesn’t happen a lot, it certainly hasn’t happened a lot in the last number of decades, but it’s happened in the last two years and it’s happening now.”

The federal NDP and Liberals currently have a similar arrangement.

The Yukon agreement was used as a model, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said in 2022.

Comments (21)

Up 1 Down 0

Anie on Feb 7, 2023 at 1:35 pm

Apparently the "free transit" decision has been a big surprise to the City. Now that, in my opinion, proves that this government is just plain incompetent.

Up 3 Down 0

martin on Feb 6, 2023 at 4:40 pm

Mr Pillai; if you're so happy and confident of the support; Why don't put it to the test?

Up 0 Down 2

Roy on Feb 5, 2023 at 8:40 pm

Again with the bracelet questions LOL

When will the premier address this?! The taxpayers are entitled to answers.
Braceletgate will be what finally gives the Yukon Party their first win in 7 years of losing.

You can be sure Currie and his frat boys are trading immature memes about it though. They always have such focus on what Yukoners need in an effective opposition party.

Up 17 Down 7

Oya on Feb 5, 2023 at 12:58 pm

I'm not an NDP supporter by any means, but you do have to hand it to Kate in this instance. She is without a doubt the most effective leader at this point in time. She's not even in power (technically), but she's achieving more towards her platform than any of the other leaders/parties are achieving towards their own platforms (not sure if Ranj has one, but nevertheless...) On that front, I salute you, Ms. White.

Up 11 Down 5

TheHammer on Feb 4, 2023 at 1:12 pm

Fiercely proud to have the Liberals over a barrel. On the common ground of an open air beer and vodka garden for the unemployed of a sovereign nation of have and have nots.

Up 16 Down 8

YXY on Feb 4, 2023 at 9:41 am

By all accounts, prince Pillais coming out party (aka the roundup) was a grande success!
Promises made and kept
Head of the water board?
Water board wasn’t bending to the Princes will under the old regime y’know.
All his old Norther Vision cronies are doing well though.
To paraphrase Obi Wan “the grift (alleged!) is strong with this one”.

Up 3 Down 10

bracelet guy on Feb 4, 2023 at 7:17 am

There's Ranj wearing that bracelet again. Seems oddly out of place with a business suit. What's the deal with that?

Up 8 Down 8

Roy on Feb 3, 2023 at 5:00 pm


If you don’t like the rules/laws then vote for people who will change them.
Perhaps if the Yukon Party weren’t full of guys who peaked in high school (and still act like they’re there) they could get voted into power. They’re on a long losing streak.

Perhaps if the Federal Conservatives could come up with a plan to fix everything the Liberals have ruined instead of taking the easy click-bait route of pandering to the far right/anti science/anti abortion vocal minority they could get voted into power.

I’d vote to oust the Liberals in a second if there was a viable alternative. Instead we get Pierre Polievre telling us to just buy Bitcoin to opt out of inflation (in March 2022….LOL what a tool) and he’s out shaking hands with the anti-vax crowd (while being vaxxed and boosted himself - what a hypocrite).

And here in the Yukon our alternatives are the NDP promise the moon and sun party and the “yeah let me have a per diem to drive into town / hey check out the funny text! - don’t worry it’s just locker room talk” Yukon Party.

Can we vote every last one of them out and start over please?

Up 14 Down 14

Anonymous on Feb 3, 2023 at 12:18 pm

Nice tattoos. Very professional.

Up 17 Down 7

Groucho d'North on Feb 3, 2023 at 8:30 am

While I can appriciate your zeal in making a parallel with Mr. Dixon and Mr. Silver courting the NDP for support following the last election as is a common practice following a general election. However, this latest CASA has no connection to an election that should have been. There was a change in Liberal leadership as a result of changes internal to the party. Mr. Pillai is riding on the coat tails of his former boss. The electorate has had no voice in these outcomes as is expected in a true democracy. Desperation and self-rewarding benefits are the motive for how the Liberal party are doing their jobs...sort of.

Up 31 Down 7

yukonmom on Feb 2, 2023 at 7:45 pm

Kate White is fiercely proud of what they got the liberals to agree to. Perhaps she would like to be known as queen Kate now. Issuing edicts from on high. The "decree" about free transit wasn't even passed by the city. But I guess Queens can issue edicts about municipal and territorial issues?!? And as the queen doesn't have to provide any money for it all just the ideas.

The NDP had the least percentage of the vote last election, why are they ruling the roost? This government has to go.

Up 15 Down 2

Ranj for another 3 years???? on Feb 2, 2023 at 7:35 pm

I voted NDP to fix the housing affordability crisis (affordable homes to buy, not affordable homes to rent.) If there isn't a major improvement on that front, I won't vote for them again.

Up 46 Down 8

George on Feb 2, 2023 at 7:47 am

“I'm happy with the common ground” haha what you really meant is “ I'm lucky to have a job and i’ll do anything Kate says to keep it” You sold out your party base, you weren't elected and you don't have a public mandate. You can play the silly game all you want, look around, talk to anyone out there, you don't have a mandate and you would lose an election.

Up 37 Down 3

TMYK on Feb 2, 2023 at 7:45 am

I’m not against some of these plans but I would love to know where the money is going to come from. The cost for transit will be $4.89 million and it would rise every year. There are 1,320 people on social assistance. That’s another $1,584,000 a year added to SA costs. $1 million more for teachers, another $2 million a year on health care recruitment( which is just government buying adds). They will have to overpay doctors to do the Walk-in clinic so probably another $10 million a year. What is going to get cut or are they just going to run us further into the red? At some point in time there will be a reckoning coming for the Yukon and it’s going to hurt.

Up 13 Down 25

Roy on Feb 1, 2023 at 10:15 pm

Currie Dixon tried to form a coalition with the NDP after the last election. An "illegal coalition" according to all the political science graduates in here LOL
You can search the Star articles to find where Currie is quoted saying he tried to join with the NDP.

The Yukon Party - the party you all love and are all counting on to save you from your mediocrity - tried to join the party you love to hate and love to call incompetent.
Go ahead and criticize the Liberals - god knows they've done plenty to deserve it.

But save us the criticism about this coalition - because the party you voted for is a party that tried (and failed) to form a coalition of their own.
Press thumbs down if you feel betrayed by the Yukon Party trying to team up with Kate White.

Up 32 Down 6

nancy drew on Feb 1, 2023 at 7:01 pm

Gawd. Ranj is even picking up on Kate's use of the word, 'folks', to describe the little people. Barf!

Up 41 Down 7

Lost In the Yukon on Feb 1, 2023 at 5:41 pm

… my NDP membership card is now in the trash.

Up 36 Down 49

Just for men on Feb 1, 2023 at 3:32 pm

@ Thomas

The YP members get the same deal. And Brad gets to rake in the per diems just to drive to town.
Take a deep cleansing breath and we will see ya in 2025!

Up 88 Down 25

Dentist47 on Feb 1, 2023 at 2:48 pm

How many ways can you say disgusting.

Up 95 Down 22

Thomas Brewer on Feb 1, 2023 at 2:28 pm

Ranj is happy that he's got a paycheque for another 30 months, building his pension, and gets to play Premier for more than a couple months.

This isn't good for Yukoners.

Up 80 Down 26

John on Feb 1, 2023 at 2:15 pm

Shhhhh - hear that noise? It must be raining money. Oh my, just think of all the spending that will go on - and it is free shyte too - hip, hip hurrah for the king and queen. Unless of course you are a landlord, then the screws get even tighter on you. Sad that this government views landlords as the scourge of the earth. We know the NDP hate them all with a passion and I guess it is obvious so to do the Lieberals. Oh wait, there is more, if you are on SS you get more free-loading money, and you don't even have to do anything to "earn" it (not that you had to earn what you have been getting). Oh lest we not forget more government staff in Education and Health. Goodie, goodie we can add more woes to the housing crisis with more imports to be on the gravy train. Another stoke of genius to swell the ranks of the bureaucracy!

Disgusting. I have never seen such waste in all my years. No restraint here (unless of course you are a slovenly landlord). White truly believes there is fairy dust everywhere - just have to go out and pluck it. The Liberals are a disgrace and embarrassment. I will lay two to one they did not mention this sell-out to their membership last Saturday!! Oh no, we mustn't get the rank and file all fired up.

No wonder this country is broken and falling apart. It is a race to see how much money can be squandered.

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