WHITEHORSE — The Yukon Liberals and New Democrats have extended a confidence and supply agreement that the party leaders say will improve housing, health care and education, while advancing reconciliation and addressing climate change.
Premier Ranj Pillai, who took over the job from Sandy Silver earlier this month, said the renewed agreement addresses the needs of all residents.
"Yukoners have dealt with a number of challenges throughout the pandemic and they want their elected leaders to work together to move the territory forward."
The original agreement was signed in April 2021 to secure the Liberals a minority government after the party tied with the Yukon Party at eight seats each in the territorial election.
The deal takes effect immediately and will remain in place until the 2025-2026 budget is passed or when a general election is called.
"This agreement is going to help a lot of Yukoners," NDP Leader Kate White said during a news conference in Whitehorse on Tuesday. "My vision and my hope is to make real changes that make life better for folks.
"I'm fiercely proud of this agreement and how it will affect people."
The Liberals and NDP have agreed on 33 initiatives.
"I think Yukoners overwhelmingly, partisan politics aside, people at the end of the day when you go to their door are going, 'Can you folks just work together for us?'" Pillai said. "That doesn't happen a lot, it certainly hasn't happened a lot in the last number of decades, but it's happened in the last two years and it's happening now."
White said priorities include opening a new walk-in health clinic in Whitehorse, establishing a managed alcohol program, covering some costs for fertility treatments and surrogacy, hiring wellness counsellors in schools, increasing child benefit and social assistance rates, making public transit free in Whitehorse, and banning no-cause evictions.
Other initiatives under the agreement are to allocate an additional $2 million under the next three budgets to recruit and retain health-care workers and an additional $5 million per year for renewable energy infrastructure.
Under the previous agreement, which expired Tuesday, the government increased the territory's minimum wage from $15.20 to $15.70 per hour and opened a supervised consumption site in Whitehorse.
The opposition Yukon Party has been critical of a rental price cap in the previous agreement, saying the linkage of residential rent increases to territorial inflation negatively affects rental owners.
The new agreement maintains rental cap increases tied to inflation but sets a minimum of two per cent and a maximum of five per cent.
White said the cap isn't intended to be punitive for landlords and noted the Liberal government has also committed to reviewing the territory's Residential Landlord Tenant Act.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2023.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
The Canadian Press