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WHITEHORSE – The Yukon Party Official Opposition has requested that the territorial Liberals improve their tardy measures specifically designed to help seniors and elders.
The Liberal response has short-changed seniors, only offering a one-time 10 per cent increase to the Pioneer Utility Grant (PUG) payment that is not even available until February 2023. At the posted March 2022 rates, this only amounts to an additional $117.30 in Whitehorse or $125.70 for residents living outside of Whitehorse.
This is in stark contrast to the Yukon Party’s suggested doubling of the PUG payment from $1,173 for Whitehorse, and $1,257 for rural Yukon. If the PUG increase were actioned this past spring when it was first raised, seniors would have realized the benefit before winter.
Money left over for basic living expenses is dwindling for Yukoners on fixed incomes because of skyrocketing prices for vehicle fuel, groceries and services. Home heating fuel promises to be a challenge this coming winter due to the Liberals mishandling of fuelwood and the increase of the carbon tax on home heating fuel this past April 1.
“In April, the Yukon Party highlighted how the budget was already out-of-date and ignored the inflation crisis,” Watson Lake MLA Patti McLeod said. “We suggested the government help ease the inflation crunch by doubling the amount of the Pioneer Utility Grant, and increasing the amount claimed through the Home Owners Grant to a maximum of $1,000 for those eligible seniors and elders until the inflation crisis is over.”
After months of requests for action, the Yukon Party is relieved that the Liberal government has finally admitted that the rising cost of living is having serious consequences for Yukoners and announced some initiatives to address the issue.
“Yukoners want a government that will take action and provide a plan to make life more affordable,” McLeod added.