Photo by Whitehorse Star
Photo by Whitehorse Star
More than 100 people dialed into a telephone town hall hosted by Kate White, the leader of the NDP, on Tuesday evening to discuss community issues and COVID-19.
“People are looking towards the future with an uncertainty they didn't have in January of this year,” White told the Star Wednesday afternoon.
“I’m just trying to ease some of those fears.”
White hosted the town hall in hopes of creating a platform to share ideas and ask questions regarding COVID-19 in the territory.
“The real important thing with tackling something like this, is there will be ideas all over and some are better than others,” White said.
“It’s making sure these ideas get out in the world.”
The leader said she receives dozens of messages a day from Yukoners, some voicing their concerns, others questioning how to apply for government programming and find support.
She said she is working to hear people out and provide as many answers as she can, though times are uncertain.
White answered approximately 10 questions during the town hall, which ran for an hour and 15 minutes, ranging from education to business supports.
When asked two questions about the territory’s climate change response, White accused the Yukon government of declaring a climate emergency without taking any real action toward change
She said sustainability should be considered with every government project, and she hasn’t yet seen this mindfulness in government decision making.
When asked about the unclear date of schools reopening and the lack of accessible financial resources for renters and businesses, White explained that the government is still working to make some decisions and announcements.
One caller noted that there are no financial supports available for start-up businesses that do not have historic profit records.
Another requested advice on how to apply for funding support while on a fixed income.
White said Yukoners are feeling uncertain, and waiting for the slow roll-out of government supports is adding to anxieties.
“One of the real challenges is … you just have to be patient, you just have to wait,” White said.
“When you’re unsure of what the future is, being told to wait is a really hard thing to do.”
In a conference-wide poll, during which participants were asked to answer multiple-choice questions through their keypad, more than 70 per cent of listeners said they don’t think the government is doing enough to support Yukoners.
Callers who didn’t get to ask their question within the hour were invited to leave a voicemail after the teleconference. White committed to responding to each of these questions personally.
When one caller expressed concern over mental health while being “cooped up” inside, White urged the caller to leave their phone number so she could commit to calling them regularly.
Many participants expressed gratitude for the teleconference, with one saying they are struggling to stay connected without computer access.
White noted that Yukoners excel at forging community even in challenging circumstances, and encouraged listeners to reach for support from fellow Yukoners.
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