Whitehorse Daily Star

Job creation to be offset by an aging population

Brighter days are ahead for the Yukon, according to a report forecasting the economic outlook for the country’s northern territories.

By Palak Mangat on April 30, 2018

Brighter days are ahead for the Yukon, according to a report forecasting the economic outlook for the country’s northern territories.

The Yukon’s mining industry is expected to begin to bounce back over the next decade after a couple of recent hiccups, as reported in the Conference Board of Canada’s Territorial Outlook and Economic Forecast.

A not-for-profit organization that analyzes trends and public policy issues, the think tank publishes a report on the Yukon, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories biannually.

It takes into consideration the demographic makeup and labour market conditions in each jurisdiction.

Marie-Christine Bernard is the director of provincial and territorial outlook as listed in the report. She says the Yukon has the development of mines to thank in large part for its sunnier forecast.

“There’s still a lot of uncertainty about the development of mines and the timing,” she told the Star today from Ottawa, “but the outlook is more positive than a year ago.”

Three new mines are set to open in the future – the Coffee, Eagle and Casino projects are all in the early stages – and the 11-year-old Minto mine is set to remain in operation longer than the initial 2021 closure date.

But it is the Casino project that will steal the show in the coming years, the report indicates.

“The Casino Mine will be the largest mine in the history of Yukon,” it reads, adding that it will produce almost one million ounces of more gold than the other three mines combined.

The project is also expected to add 900 jobs over the next 22 years once it begins operations.

But, Bernard added, one of the government’s priorities should be ensuring everything remains on schedule, after the Casino mine has been four years in the making.

“While the project was first submitted for approval in 2014, the YESAB (Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board) has referred the application to a panel review, which is likely to take some time,” the report reads.

“Putting in place some training programs to not rely as much on workers that don’t reside in territories,” will result in a more stable workforce and ensure more income will stay in the territory, Bernard noted.

This would involve the government working with mining companies – even through what seems to be at times a strenuous relationship between the two.

For instance, the Yukon Chamber of Mines expressed disappointment this month over how long the Yukon government took to include the industry in consultations since Bill C-17 became law in December 2017.

Also this month, the Yukon Zinc Corp. was fined more than $75,000 for infractions under the Quartz Mining Act, with $25,000 of that going to the Yukon government as reimbursement.

The company had declared bankruptcy in 2015 after suspending operations in January of that year.

“The last few years have been challenging for the territory,” the report acknowledged, “as depressed metal markets discouraged any major mining developments,” the report’s overview reads.

There is some good news, though: the territory’s unemployment rate is forecast to remain low for the next decade, while wages are expected to increase a bit by 0.3 percentage points per year faster than inflation.

The report does point out, though, that the Yukon’s population will age more quickly than both the Northwest Territories’ and Nunavut’s – something that the government should be proactively looking to address sooner rather than later, said Bernard.

“It’s still manageable,” noted Bernard of the territory’s aging population, as “there are regions in Canada that will be a lot older than Yukon,” like the Atlantic provinces.

“They have trouble growing their labour force, because young workers leave for other job opportunities.”

An older population means the government will have to put more resources into planning for health care services.

However, Bernard acknowledged that the Yukon seems to be in relatively better shape to attract a younger workforce.

One thing the territory has got going for it in this pursuit, Bernard pointed out, is that it has fewer fly-in communities than the other two territories. But the government must use this leverage to draw in fresh faces.

“A good portion of Yukon’s mining and construction jobs are filled by workers who don’t reside permanently in the territory.

“But that is not as much the case in the service sector, where more jobs tend to be locally filled,” the report reads.

“Between now and 2040, the number of Yukoners aged 65 and older will more than double,” it continues, adding that the working-age population “will have to shoulder the costs of meeting the increased demand of health care services.”

Bernard added that these trends are on par with those of the rest of Canada.

“The tight labour market is tight for everyone,” she said, likening it to a “global phenomenon making it harder and harder to attract skilled workers.”

She went on to list training programs for mine workers, increased funding for health care services and continued efforts to attract young workers as top priorities the government should address in its agenda.

Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Ranj Pillai, who also serves as the Economic Development Minister, was unavailable for comment this morning.

Meanwhile, the report projects the Northwest Territories’ economic outlook as “grim,” thanks to declining diamond production.

Nunavut will benefit from planned mineral production, but economic growth will be stalled after large infrastructure projects come to an end in the coming years.

Comments (14)

Up 1 Down 0

ProScience Greenie on May 7, 2018 at 12:38 pm

I would like to think that the real Wilf Carter isn't going around calling people gutless and instead a troll is hijacking his username to do so. If the real WC is doing that then it is as just sad as can be.

As far as user anonymity goes, it's a small territory and speaking out against all misuse of power, poor policy and planning, greed, scamming and corruption by some in governments, business and NGOs (right, left, center and green) can have negative repercussions on income and can lead to harassment (being called gutless for example) to oneself and/or family and friends. Or worse.

Up 0 Down 2

Wilf Carter on May 4, 2018 at 4:03 pm

Pro science greenie. What is that? Why don't your put your name out there.

Up 1 Down 1

Wilf Carter on May 3, 2018 at 11:04 pm

The problem in the Yukon is we don't know how to manage growth like FM did.

Up 1 Down 1

Wilf Carter on May 3, 2018 at 11:03 pm

It is about what we want or don't want.

Up 3 Down 1

ProScience Greenie on May 3, 2018 at 3:29 pm

Never been to Fort Mac WC as I've had no reason to but a whole lot of friends, neighbors and relatives have spent a lot of time there and the vast majority of them want that mentality and economics kept out of our Yukon. We can do better than look to Fort Mac for economic inspiration.

Up 4 Down 4

Anonymously on May 3, 2018 at 6:15 am

Juniper Jackson.... really? You think that person actually dragged her senior family member up with the scheming intention of using the Yukon’s “vast” resources to live. This senior doesn’t have a pension after working all her life? Oh and her reason for moving might not be that she wanted to live by her child and grandchildren for the last part of her life? Sometimes people see devious intents in the simplest of explanations.

Up 4 Down 3

Ivy on May 2, 2018 at 4:56 pm


JJ is a chronic complainer. Do you honestly believe some one can roll up to Yukon housing off the plane and get an apartment?
For a woman who knows everything she must have missed the class on financial planning. Having worked for YG and into her 70s she still can’t make ends meet.

Up 1 Down 2

Wilf Carter on May 2, 2018 at 4:53 pm

Pro science do you understand economics? We need to be a competitive community and FM has past experience we can learn from. Have you spent time in FM? A lot people have lived there for many years.

Up 2 Down 5

Politico on May 1, 2018 at 6:50 pm

Hey JJ, any facts to back up your "statement" or just more flummery from the right?

Up 8 Down 5

drum on May 1, 2018 at 4:19 pm

I may add that even although I am collecting a pension I am still paying taxes and supporting this territory and country. Look at what the illegal migrants are costing the taxpayers of the this country (housing, dental, medical, welfare, clothing and are able to go anywhere in this country until their hearing which will probably take two years because of the volume - they also qualify for a working visa and probably get to vote)- they are poring over the border every day and the government is doing nothing to stop it.

Up 9 Down 3

ProScience Greenie on May 1, 2018 at 12:16 pm

This is the Yukon, not Fort Mac. Better to have a strong, stable and diverse economy that leans towards compassion and sharing rather than one all about quick money for a few and poorly planned greed-based growth. We can do way better than that.

Very true Juniper J. Funny that it is not reported on more but perhaps it's part of the "I'm getting mine so don't rock the boat' mentality that is starting to get out of control in this territory.

Drum, neither your concerns or contributions over the years are on the radar of the powers that be. Wish it was different.

Up 5 Down 2

What a great piece on May 1, 2018 at 8:42 am

Low mineral prices was the problem over the last five years not the Yukon Party Government as the liberals stated during the last election.
Labor training and permanent recruitment is key to Yukon future.
City of Whitehorse needs to let developers take over land development not government.
Government cost development of land is too costly and not competitive.
As a person who worked in Alberta on land and housing development in place like Fort Mac, Yukon has to get ahead of the curve not behind it.
Government get out of private sector business like it stated.
Wilf Carter

Up 8 Down 3

Juniper Jackson on Apr 30, 2018 at 9:39 pm

I wonder how many southerners have hauled their senior parents up here to chew up Yukon benefits? I talked to a senior not long ago who mentioned that her daughter got a job here, and convinced her to leave her family and friends, her seniors groups to come here and save a few dollars and baby sit her grandkids... she got senior housing 4 months after she got here, and while she didn't like the cold, didn't like being stuck with her grand kids all day, every day, didn't have any friends, she does like the freebies.. well..don't we all.. how common is this woman's tale? Is there even a residency requirement here? There used to be, but these days, you can get right out of your car at the welfare office and pick up a check, you can go right to Yukon housing and get an apartment..I don't know what the criteria is, I know of a woman whose husband has amputations and is in the hospital in Whitehorse, but when they applied for Yukon Housing were told it was Carmacks.. these long time Yukoner's were told there was no housing in Whitehorse.. Like everything else in the Yukon..is it who you know?

Up 11 Down 1

drum on Apr 30, 2018 at 5:18 pm

The Seniors in this Territory helped to build it and we worked and paid our taxes. I have several pensions that I paid into and worked hard to earn them. I have cost this Territory nothing so far on Health Costs. Do not make it sound as if I am a burden to this Territory,

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