The last legislative assembly ended on a cliffhanger; the budget, whereas tabled, had not been passed, leave alone subject to fulsome debate.
The territory has been without a budget since that truncated session. However, that is because of change – and fast, Premier Sandy Silver told the media.
The assembly will resume session Tuesday at 1 p.m., and top the priority list is getting that budget passed, he said.
With no clear winner following the regional election, the Liberals and NDP struck an alliance. Part of that plan, called a “confidence and supply agreement,” means the Liberal minority government will get a needed boost to pass its budget and confidence bills.
Silver said the budget will be revised.
“There [are] going to be a few extra considerations here and there for the agreement, but for the most part it’s very similar to the budget that we tabled in March,” he said. “I’m really excited to get into the legislative assembly and get the spending authority for the year.”
“Yukoners have sent a clear message that we need to work together to the benefit of the territory and I hope to see that reflected in the House,” Silver added.
“We all need to demonstrate leadership that Yukoners expect from their elected representatives.”
Budget to reflect several NDP objectives
The plan includes many commitments copy and pasted from the NDP’s campaign platform. They constitute rolling out a safe drug supply program within 6 months and introducing a rent cap.
Another thing, aspirational at this point, involved cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 45%. The Liberals’s climate change plan, known as Our Clean Future, set an emissions reduction target of 30% by 2030.
“We need a plan to how we’ll get there and how they will work,” NDP Leader Kate White said, referring to the more aggressive reduction target.
“We’re really looking forward to some of the important measures that were negotiated in the confidence and supply agreement being implemented in this budget.”
She said the alliance between parties does not suggest the NDP will get soft on the Liberals, quite the opposite.
“It doesn’t change our ability to talk about things that are important to us.”
A dearth of housing, now an evergreen problem in most places in Yukon, is one matter the NDP will be pressing the Liberals on, according to White.
‘A lot of questions,’ Yukon Party leader says
Yukon Party Leader Currie Dixon said he wants to see how the Liberal-NDP alliance will work in practice.
“The Liberal-NDP coalition agreement is fairly comprehensive,” he said. “There’s a lot in that agreement and we have a lot of questions for what it’s going to mean for public policy for the Yukon government for the coming years.”
The agreement is going to mean new ways of doing business in the assembly, Dixon said.
“There’s these new joint policy implementation committees, which will allow a combination of cabinet ministers with NDP MLAs to give direction directly to public servants, to departments, so we’re curious to understand how that’s going to work and how those processes are going to unfold,” Dixon said.
“I think understanding how that direction is going to be given, who’s going to receive it and how it’s going to be implemented is a huge issue that we’re going to be digging into.”
As per Dixon, this alliance could drain resources.
“That’s going to create an issue from a public finance perspective,” he said.
“On top of that we know there are also significant implications due to the delay in having the budget in place as a result of the unnecessary election call that the Liberals did a few weeks ago.”