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Earlier this week, Statistics Canada released the latest national inflation numbers. They showed that inflation continues to persist at levels more than double the Bank of Canada’s target.
Particularly concerning to Yukon families, is the dramatic increase in food prices.
According to this recent data, the cost of groceries has risen by 10.8 percent since August of 2021. In the North, where the vast majority of food is trucked up the highway from the south, the hit is even harder. It is yet another example of the cost of living in the Yukon becoming increasingly unaffordable.
Despite suggestions from the Yukon Party to address this deepening challenge facing Yukoners, we have seen shockingly little action from the territorial Liberal government. As jurisdictions across the country roll out a variety of measures in response, the inaction here in the Yukon has made it an outlier.
In BC, the NDP government has announced a $600 million tax rebate package to help citizens respond to inflation. In Alberta, the UCP government has cut the fuel tax, and introduced home heating fuel rebates to shield consumers from price spikes this winter. Both Saskatchewan and Quebec are providing direct cash assistance to their citizens, among several other measures. Even the federal Liberal government has recently announced a pack of inflation relief measures aimed at helping Canadians respond to inflation, including a doubling of the GST Tax Credit for six months.
Here in the Yukon, the territorial Liberal government managed to muster a temporary rebate program for electricity worth $150 over three months per ratepayer. That rebate ended this past summer and they have not introduced a single new measure, instead citing programs that began well before Yukoners were facing an inflation crisis. When the Yukon Party proposed cutting the fuel tax, increasing the Pioneer Utility Grant for seniors, and holding off the increase to the carbon tax, or suspending the carbon tax altogether, the Premier dismissed these as “parlour tricks” and maintained that no additional action was needed.
Making matters worse, Sandy Silver has now announced his intention to resign as Premier pending a leadership election of the territorial Liberal party. This means that the Yukon now has a lame duck Premier and convention suggests he should avoid implementing any new policies or major changes of government direction. That convention respecting our democracy means that Yukoners hoping the Liberals will change course and offer some sort of relief, will be left waiting until the Liberal leadership election is concluded and a new Premier with the authority to act is installed.
This is far from ideal for Yukoners struggling to get by in the face of rampant inflation.
With that in mind, I would encourage contestants in the upcoming Liberal leadership election to offer concrete proposals for addressing inflation. I do not expect that they will agree with all of the measures that the Yukon Party has offered but hope that they give serious consideration to breaking with current Premier’s ‘do-nothing’ position.
In refusing to take action and ignoring the problem, the current Premier has made Yukon an outlier, and Yukoners deserve better.
Leader of the Yukon Party