NDP Leader Kate White says government cutting social spending to pay for infrastructure for mining industry
Yukon NDP Leader Kate White accused the territory’s Liberal government Monday of cannibalizing social spending to cover the cost of upgrades to the dock in Skagway, Alaska.
The government plans to spend as much as $44 million over the next two years on what it calls a marine services platform. The first instalment of that expense is around $21 million this year.
In Question Period, White said that $21 million is equal to what she calls cuts at the Yukon Housing Corporation, as well as the community services, and highways and public works departments.
“In this year’s supplementary budget when you add up all the cuts from various departments, they add up exactly to this year’s budget for the ore dock,” she said, citing a $6 million drop in funding for construction at the housing corporation.
“There is no pretending those cuts are not financing this government’s new project.”
Budget changes are normal adjustments: Premier
Premier Ranj Pillai said those budget changes are normal adjustments. While governments present budgets every spring, those figures are usually tweaked throughout the year through supplementary budgets. For example, Yukon MLAs just passed a supplementary budget bill for fiscal 2022-2023 last week.
The $6 million in housing money, Pillai said, is from the federal government and can’t be spent this year, so it’s being moved to fund construction next year.
“It’s a good spin from the leader of the third party,” Pillai said of White’s claims. “I would say that every year we rebalance and we then look at our priorities.”
White also said it’s not clear the Yukon even needs to build the facility. Since the Minto copper mine shut down, there are no mines operating in the territory that need access to a bulk export facility.
Earlier this year, the Skagway Borough Assembly regained control over the town’s waterfront after a 55-year lease with White Pass and Yukon Route ended. The town plans to expand its facilities for the lucrative cruise ship industry, but the Yukon is looking to maintain access to a nearby port to make it cheaper and easier to export base metals.
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: Victoria Gold fined $95K for violating mining licences in Yukon, CBC News
Norway: World’s northernmost coal power plant shuts down, The Independent Barents Observer
Russian: Russian Arctic coal is looking for way out of sanctions, The Independent Barents Observer
United States: BLM proposes allowing ConocoPhillips to drill most of its Arctic Willow project, Alaska Public Media