Photo by Whitehorse Star
Premier Sandy Silver
Photo by Whitehorse Star
Premier Sandy Silver
Tuesday’s Speech from the Throne provided a case of déjà-vu.
If anyone listening to the nearly-hour-long speech outlining the direction of the minority Liberal government thought it sounded like something they’ve heard before ... it’s because they have.
The speech regurgitated a considerable amount of the Yukon Liberals’ election campaign, with a large dollop of the NDP’s platform.
As well, there was more than a smidgeon of the written accord between the two parties that will keep the Liberals in power for two years if it goes well.
To many, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, since Yukoners can enjoy some comfortable familiarity with no surprises.
The speech touched on virtually all of the major focuses of the two co-operating parties in this government.
Climate change, health care – both pandemic and opioid-related – mining, and economic development were the watchwords. All the old favourites made an appearance – save one.
Curiously, the speech didn’t mention rent caps set to initially take effect Saturday – an issue that is starting to heat up in the spring sunshine and warming temperatures.
“We can’t fit everything in,” a deadpan Premier Sandy Silver told reporters in a scrum after the speech was read.
The speech promised to:
• continue to provide COVID-19 support programs for as long as they are needed;
• increased resources to address opioids abuse;
• introduce the Great Yukon Summer Campaign to encourage in-territory travel;
• bring in the new universal early childhood education program;
• offer expanding housing options across the continuum;
• introduce a new immigration strategy to support the Yukon’s workforce;
• develop an Innovation Commission to attract new technology start-ups and grow the Yukon’s digital ecosystem;
• make a bid to host the 60th anniversary of the Canada Winter Games in 2027;
• start the construction of a new elementary school in Whistle Bend;
• create a Yukon First Nations school board;
• release the Yukon’s LGBTQ2S+ Action Plan;
• create McIntyre Creek Park;
• complete the Dawson Land Use Planning;
• continue the implementation of the Our Clean Future and the Putting People First reports; and
• constructing a new secure medical unit at the Whitehorse General Hospital.
“Today’s Speech from the Throne establishes a path forward for our second term in government,”Silver said.
“Building on the strong foundation established during our previous mandate, it outlines our plans to make the Yukon a better place to live. We look forward to working together with all members of the legislative assembly to continue serving Yukoners.
“It does give Yukoners an idea of what to expect over the next couple of years,” Silver added in the scrum. “Our priority in this sitting is to get the year’s budget passed.
“We will be tabling a budget that will be very similar to the one we introduced in March. It’s a strong budget, with a lot of new items, including our new universal childcare program.”
Silver said the over-riding message from the budget was that Yukoners wanted their political representatives to work together, and “to represent the kind of leadership they expect.”
He said the revised items in the budget wouldn’t be available for detailed discussion until the budget is presented. He did not provide a timeline for that.
Silver said he didn’t think Liberal supporters would have much of a problem with the revised budget and priorities that are an outgrowth of the agreement with the NDP reached April 28.
“What we platformed on will be in the mandate letter we will send out, and in the agreement as well,” the premier said.
“We’ve always said the moderate Liberal government has voices from both left and right. That’s how we try to do our platforming.
“It’s very grassroots, lot of ideas coming from all walks of life. Good ideas come from both directions, both left and right.”
Silver was also asked about the timeline for the ambitious plans in the Throne Speech and in the accord with the NDP.
He said NDP Leader Kate White would have to answer that, but added the agreement “wasn’t set up to fail.”
Debate on the speech began this afternoon.
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