Fire and flood relief will get a $20.2 million boost following a historic fire season and severe flooding, according to the premier.
Premier Sandy Silver unveiled the 2022-23 Supplementary Estimates, which takes into account unforeseen spending at the time of setting the $1.97 billion annual budget, in the Yukon Legislative Assembly on the first day of sitting autumn from October 6th.
In total, the supplementary budget is for $26.2 million in operations and maintenance, with no change in capital expenditures.
An Oct. 6 release highlights spending increases in response to the past fire season as well as mitigation and cleanup measures in response to flooding in the territory.
“This summer it started out very troubled,” Silver told reporters in the firm’s office.
“We have seen unprecedented fire activity, with major fire activity in every region.”
In July, the New reported that Yukon Fire Information Officer Mike Fancie predicted the $22 million budget may not cover wildfire costs.
The supplemental budget also includes $3.2 million to pay for the $150 rebate, announced in March 2022, on all residential and commercial electricity bills.
This increase is offset by $1.5 million in recoverable funds from the federal government and $18.2 million in new revenue, which includes a $2.2 million increase in the Canada Health Transfer, $15 million $1 million from the Federal Affordable Housing in the North Agreement and $1 million from land sale contracts.
Opposition parties criticized the supplementary budget for what was left out.
Yukon Party Leader Currie Dixon noted that the latest inflation-fighting measures announced by the Yukon government do not appear in the budget or supplementary estimates.
“Our concern is that there’s no real plan here,” Dixon said.
“It is clear to us that they found them on the fly.”
Yukon NDP Leader Kate White said the financial impacts of climate change — fires, floods and landslides in particular — should be a priority in the territory.
“We saw landslides like we’ve never seen before,” White said.
She was referring to the spring landslides in Whitehorse, as well as the latest series of more than 10 landslides along the North Klondike Highway just outside Dawson City.
White said the territory will “continue to see these things increase” over time, so increased spending is needed.
“It’s not something we can skimp on.”
White suggested the supplementary budget missed an opportunity to do something with the surplus to deal with the rising cost of living.
“We could have really done people some good with that surplus by trying to help with people’s reality right now,” she said.
This year’s surplus is projected at $33 million, which is lower than the March forecast of $39.5 million.
Projected year-end debt stands at $214 million compared to the March projection of $207.5 million.
Contact Dana Hatherly at [email protected]
budgetGovernment of Yukon