Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Mark Page

PREMIER VENTURING OVERSEAS – Premier Ranj Pillai, seen speaking to reporters Thursday afternoon, left this morning to attend mining conferences in Germany and the United Kingdom.

I’m proud of our team’s work, Pillai says

Looking back at the fall legislative term Thursday afternoon, Premier Ranj Pillai said he believes his party has made the hard decisions to move the territory forward in a variety of ways — even if those decisions weren’t always popular.

By Mark Page on November 24, 2023

Looking back at the fall legislative term Thursday afternoon, Premier Ranj Pillai said he believes his party has made the hard decisions to move the territory forward in a variety of ways — even if those decisions weren’t always popular.

“What was important to me was I made commitments when I came into the job,” Pillai told reporters. “And I want to continue to fulfill the commitments, even if they’re not popular commitments.”

He highlighted successes that include the passage of the Registered Nurses Act to make it easier for nurses to practise in the territory, an alteration of the Environment Act to allow for future expansion of recycling programs and increased funding for the Yukon Hospital Corp.

Work on community safety in downtown Whitehorse near the emergency shelter is another area his party chose to spotlight.

“I’m proud of the work that our team has accomplished in many important conversations,” Pillai said.

He fought back against the notion put forth by the Yukon Party that his government is failing Yukoners, especially on health care and affordability.

Pillai sought to shift the focus of the health care debate onto the increasing investments his government has made in health care, and away from issues with access to services.

“We will continue to improve our health care system, continue to improve things to the hospital,” he said.

He emphasized the relationship the government has with officials in charge of the hospital corporation.

“I was happy to hear this week as well from the CEO of the hospital that the relationship with Health and Social Services is the best it’s ever been,” Pillai said.

Many of the Yukon Party’s criticisms on health care have used information from access-to-information requests, which they have revealed over the past few weeks, along with communications from local medical professionals.

They have used this information to reveal long wait times for surgeries and tests, as well as dissatisfaction from providers.

But the Liberals rebutt many of these arguments, saying the Yukon Party doesn’t have its facts right.

“Lots of politics being played, lots of stretch of facts,” Pillai said.

During several debates in the House, the Yukon Party brought up a report by accounting firm Ernst & Young on the financial health of the hospital corporation that they had sought to obtain through one of their access to information requests.

The Yukon Party had even tried to put forward a motion in the House on Wednesday to force the release of the report, though debate on a different issue ran out the clock on the day, effectively ending the possibility of it going to a vote.

Pillai suggested this was simply a long debate about landfills, though leaders of both the NDP and Yukon Party accused the Liberals of trying to stop a vote on both a non-binding motion to compel the government to keep open several rural waste transfer stations, and a binding motion for them to release the accounting report.

He said the report would be released when it had been fully vetted for public release.

“We are just ensuring that both the hospital and Health and Social (Services) have an opportunity to clearly go through it before it’s something that’s in the public sphere,” he said.

He also said they did not want to release the report until they have already begun putting in place changes based on the recommendations.

“When we’re ready and we have that work in place, then we’ll be in a position to release documents,” he said.

While the Yukon Party is focused on things such as this Ernst & Young report, Pillai said, it’s missing many of the good things happening in Yukon health care.

He gave the example of his September trip to India to recruit health care workers.

“You’ll see so many shots from the Yukon Party about making a trip to India to go and recruit,” Pillai said.

“Now we’re seeing the visas opening up — this is going to be a key source of talent for us. These are good things we’ve been doing.”

Another issue stuck in Pillai’s craw is the Yukon Party’s and NDP’s joint rebuke of the government forcing them to ask permission to deliver ministerial statements.

“We think that that is one avenue to get really important information out to Yukoners,” Pillai said.

This represented a real turning point during the fall term, when debate between the parties became increasingly quarrelsome. At the time, Pillai called the rule change a “dark day for democracy.”

An area where the Yukon Party’s criticisms seemed easily deflected was on energy and on carbon taxes.

The Liberal government really stuck to the script that the Yukon Party was unwilling to take steps to combat climate change, and that both carbon taxes and renewable energy are necessary components of this fight.

Any time the issue came up, the Liberals seemed unfazed.

The carbon tax debates did result in a rare — and forceful — denunciation of a federal Liberal policy by the Yukon Liberals when they expressed their disagreement with the federal carbon tax heating oil exception introduced last month.

Asked if he thought the Confidence and Supply Agreement (CASA) between the NDP and the Liberals is in good shape, Pillai said the relationship is strong.

“We have a difference of opinion on many different areas,” he said.

“But I think we truly believe — and you can ask (NDP Leader Kate White) today — that this agreement is doing good things for Yukoners.”

Yukon Party Leader Currie Dixon called this relationship into question on Thursday, saying many of these disagreements amounted to CASA violations, and that relationship ought to be dissolved.

At times, some of the government’s decisions did seem to run counter to the CASA and invited criticism from both sides. The decision to hand out a subsidy to landlords affected by recently enacted rent caps was a big one.

The planned closures of several rural waste transfer stations was another.

But Pillai is sticking to the plan.

“I will continue to support my team and make decisions that are not always popular,” Pillai said. “But I want to continue to do the things I said I was going to do.”

The premier left Whitehorse this morning to attend mining conferences in Germany and the United Kingdom.

Comments (6)

Up 40 Down 1

David on Nov 24, 2023 at 9:47 pm

"You shall know a tree by its fruits."

Up 5 Down 77

Wilf on Nov 24, 2023 at 5:15 pm

Congratulations Ranj on a well run government that is answerable to the people.

Up 75 Down 6

Matthew on Nov 24, 2023 at 4:56 pm

Ranj, nothing you do is popular. Finding it hard to find any one who even voted liberal. Just a bunch of broken promises, all in exchange for record high debt, house prices, grocery prices etc. But everything is fine... LOL!

Up 77 Down 3

Groucho d'North on Nov 24, 2023 at 4:28 pm

If you want a real report card Mr. Pillai, drop the writ.

Up 72 Down 5

YT on Nov 24, 2023 at 4:01 pm


Up 0 Down 0

Josey Wales on Nov 24, 2023 at 3:12 pm

Unreal cognitive dissonance, to the point of clear delusion.

“The premier left Whitehorse this morning to attend mining conferences in Germany and the United Kingdom.”
No doubt, to mine souls on behalf of WEF, the folks that ACTUALLY pull the strings on these puppets that gaslight us that we are their concern.

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