Category: Darrell Pasloski Letters

Premier Pasloski represents Yukon at historic First Ministers’ Meeting

Darrell Pasloski, Premier, MLA for MountainviewAs submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, November 27, 2015
by Premier Darrell Pasloski

On Monday I was privileged to represent Yukoners at the first meeting of premiers and the prime minister in nearly seven years, and to chair a meeting of Canada’s Premiers. This made November 23rd a significant day for me as Yukon’s leader, and an important day in Canadian politics.

Prior to the gathering with the prime minister, premiers held a meeting of the Council of the Federation (COF). COF comprises all 13 Canadian premiers and given that its present chair, Premier Paul Davis of Newfoundland and Labrador, is currently in an election campaign, I as incoming chair led the meeting and spoke afterwards on behalf of all premiers.

Our discussion focused on formulating joint priorities for the meeting with the prime minister. I shared Yukon’s priorities for the year ahead, stating that we are focused on economic opportunities, building relationships with First Nations and developing the foundations for Yukon’s long-term economic growth, such as the Next Generation Hydro initiative.

Following the meeting of premiers, we joined the prime minister for a First Ministers’ Meeting – a formal engagement amongst Canada’s Premiers and the Prime Minister of Canada.

There are many things that premiers can do to help make this an even better country, but we need to work in cooperation with the federal government. The First Ministers’ Meeting focused on climate change and Canada’s united approach in advance of the fast-approaching COP21 in Paris, the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Canada’s Premiers are not looking to the federal government for a standardized climate change regime across the country. Rather, we agree that we can be united in our goal but achieve it in different ways. The prime minister recognized that we are all committed to combating climate change, as evidenced by the Premiers’ Canadian Energy Strategy and the Quebec Declaration, and that the diversity of our efforts reflect the diversity of our geography and economies. The federal government’s job in this regard will be to provide the provinces and territories with the tools and supports we need to deliver on our diverse climate change policies, rather than dictating a “one size fits all” approach.

I also had the opportunity to share Yukon’s unique perspective with the prime minister, other premiers and the national media. Although the North’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is very small, we are among the first to feel the serious consequences of climate change. I mentioned Ross River as an example, sharing the story of how its school was shut down as a result of structural damage caused by melting permafrost.

Leaders also agreed there is an opportunity for us to do some re-branding. Canada is number three in the world in oil reserves, but many people don’t realize that we are also number three in the world when it comes to renewable energy. That is a story we need to continue to tell the world. Our territory is a leader in renewable energy, with 95 percent of our power coming from hydro.

Also on the agenda were the next steps needed to support the successful resettlement of 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada. We are a country of immigrants and have a long and successful story of embracing people from other countries at a time of need. We all agreed that stability is needed for these refugees, so that they will achieve success here, not just in the short term but in the long term as well.

Premiers are looking forward to the next First Ministers’ Meeting, which the prime minister committed to hold three months after COP21. The agenda will include items such as the economy, health care, and a National Inquiry on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls.

I look forward to representing Yukoners both at the next First Ministers’ Meeting and at the COP21 conference in Paris. All of Canada’s leaders agree that climate change is real, and that we must act now to find solutions to create a better future for generations to come.

Premier outlines priorities as fall sitting of Yukon Legislative Assembly begins

Darrell Pasloski, Premier, MLA for MountainviewAs submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, October 30, 2015
by Premier Darrell Pasloski

With the Fall legislative session underway, I wanted to share our government’s plans for legislation with all Yukoners. While new bills and amendments to existing acts don’t always make the morning news, they represent the real work of government and help us, your Yukon Party government, act on priorities that Yukoners have told us are important to them.

This session, we tabled significant amendments to four major pieces of legislation – the Elections Act, the Land Titles Act, the Municipal Act and the Oil and Gas Act. We also tabled minor amendments to the Education Act and the Travel for Medical Treatment Act.

Every Yukoner who casts a ballot will be affected by the modernization of the Elections Act. Given the importance of the legislation, the process used to amend the act was amongst the most open and transparent processes ever used by the Yukon government. The amendments were developed after an open review by the Chief Electoral Officer. That review was shared with the all-party Member Services Board (MSB), made up of representatives from all three parties. And before the legislation was tabled, the new legislation was once again shared with the MSB, a briefing from departmental staff was provided, and consent to table the bill was sought and given. Every party knows what is in this bill and has indicated support for the bill, before it is even tabled.

Modernizing the Land Titles Act is something we are very excited about. While land titles may not appear to be significant at first glance, these amendments will benefit every person who sells or buys a home or piece of land. Gaining information on a property will be easier, and as the act is implemented over the coming months and years, it will make title information more accessible and reliable. In a first for Canada, this new legislation will also allow for registration of First Nation Settlement Land in the Yukon Land Titles Office while safeguarding aboriginal title. This change will create opportunities for First Nation governments that may want to use settlement land for economic development. Nothing in this act requires any First Nation to take any action. Rather, it enables the registration of settlement land, if a First Nation so chooses.

Another act that many residents may not be familiar with but which has a significant impact on daily life is the Municipal Act. This legislation sets out the broad parameters of local government powers, authorities and processes. The amendments strengthen the act by incorporating feedback gained from an extensive three-year review process involving the Association of Yukon Communities, municipalities, Local Advisory Councils, First Nations and the public. Communities have asked for these changes. We listened and are delivering on our commitment to change the legislation before the next election.

As a government focused on balancing economic opportunities with strong regulatory oversight, we are proud to be tabling amendments to the Oil and Gas Act. The amendments will add clarity, stability and certainty to the responsible management of oil and gas resources. The revisions will ensure that Yukon remains able to attract and retain industry interest while strengthening the Yukon government’s ability to protect people and the environment. The amendments allow the Yukon government to continue its commitment to improve transparency while ensuring Yukon residents and First Nations continue to benefit from the oil and gas sector’s growth opportunities. During the consultations, First Nations identified issues within the act regarding benefits agreements. In response to those concerns, we removed those amendments from the legislation. We recognize the resource development is a partnership, so when we make amendments like these, we strive to find common ground with other affected governments.

We are also amending the Education Act to better define the authority of the Education Appeal Tribunal and provide greater transparency and certainty to parents concerning the Tribunal’s powers. And we are making changes to the Travel for Medical Treatment Act to better align the legislation with its regulatory framework, clarify who may authorize pre-approved travel and emergency transportation, and modernize the act to better reflect evolving practices.

As I noted earlier, we recognize that legislation doesn’t often make the headlines. But the reality is that these legislative changes will have a direct impact on many Yukoners. They will enable responsible development, empower regulators, affect our education and health systems, and improve local governance.

That’s the real work of government. We are proud to table these amendments, as our government continues our work to make Yukon the best place to live, work, play and raise a family.

Premier Engages Yukoners in Wide-Ranging Community Conversations

Darrell Pasloski, Premier, MLA for MountainviewAs submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, October 9, 2015
by Premier Darrell Pasloski

It is the hallmark of a conscientious government to listen to its constituents. The Yukon Party government, chosen by Yukoners in 2002, 2006 and 2011, has engaged with citizens in countless ways on many topics and all Yukoners have benefitted. Through dialogue, Yukoners have influenced government action and life in Yukon.

This fall, as Premier, I am reaching out in a new way to ensure Yukon voices are heard on a number of important topics.

In the coming weeks, I will undertake a series of “community conversations”. I’ll meet with small groups of citizens, all of different backgrounds and political affiliations, and many of whom do not usually have the opportunity to speak directly to government or to the Premier. These small, private and informal conversations have been designed in a way that will allow participants to speak freely and frankly. I am looking forward with great anticipation to hearing from all the individuals who have agreed to meet with me.

These conversations will allow Yukoners to speak directly with me about their experiences within their own communities and will be a forum for gathering potential ideas for improvement. They will also help our government identify programs and policies that are working well – and to determine why that is. The information gathered will assist in the development of the 2016-2017 budget and with our planning for Yukon’s future.

Invited participants will be asked to bring forward ideas that could be implemented over the short-, medium-, and long-term. They may suggest changes to policy, legislation or operations, as well as in areas of financial investment.

To be most efficient, the coordinator of this project is inviting a cross-section of Yukoners to share their ideas on a number of different topics. By targeting a diverse group of voices, especially those not often heard from, our government hopes to tap the wellspring of Yukoners’ creativity, intelligence and experience.

These small, face-to-face discussions are meant to encourage honest and open sharing of ideas, in a welcoming environment that is respectful, constructive and focussed on solutions. Our plan is to meet with high school students, adults and seniors in the Whitehorse area, as well as hold meetings in Dawson City, Haines Junction and Watson Lake.

The wide range of topics includes building for tomorrow; economic development; sport and recreation; arts, heritage and culture; the social economy; supporting vulnerable Yukoners, entrepreneurship and innovation; and others.

Listening to input from Yukoners is invaluable as we chart a course for the future together. While it is likely that we will not be able to implement every idea that is put forward, we will give serious consideration to everything we hear.

As Premier, it will be a great experience to hear directly from each and every Yukoner participating in this project in this kind of intimate setting. Of course, the small group format of these meetings will mean that not every Yukoner will be able to attend. In order not to exclude others who have comments and ideas, we are inviting Yukoners to participate by making written submissions to community.conversations@gov.yk.ca.

I should also note that this project builds on work already being done to solicit input from Yukoners. There are many ways that Yukoners offer comments and assistance on how to improve the economy and quality of life in our territory, including our numerous well-established consultation processes. In addition, boards and committees are a way for Yukoners to participate meaningfully in the territory’s governance by providing valuable advice and recommendations. Over 1,000 Yukoners contribute their expertise by sitting on Yukon boards and committees. There are currently ten boards and committees seeking members. You can learn more about whether one might be a good fit for you by going to: http://www.eco.gov.yk.ca/boards_and_committees.html.

I am excited about this new opportunity to listen to Yukoners who have ideas for Yukon’s prosperity and our future. Together we can make our territory the best place in Canada to live, work, play and raise a family.

Premier sets direction to end of term and beyond

Darrell Pasloski, Premier, MLA for MountainviewAs submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, August 14th, 2015
by Premier Darrell Pasloski

It’s been nearly four years since our government was elected. As Premier and leader of this team, I am very proud of the work we have been able to accomplish so far in our mandate. This government has already delivered on most of its commitments made to Yukoners at the beginning of this term, but we must continue to build on this momentum.

With that in mind, I have issued new mandate letters to your government ministers and their departments that set out a long-term vision for Yukon’s future.

I have set four strategic goals that I believe will chart the course for continued growth and prosperity in our territory. Our first goal is to make strategic investments in Yukon’s infrastructure. This goal supports economic growth and ensures strong healthy communities today, while creating infrastructure for Yukoners for years to come.

Our second goal is to improve Yukon’s regulatory regime. We must continue to protect our clean air and water, and our quality of life, while also focusing on economic growth and prosperity for Yukoners.

Our third goal is to make Yukon the best place to live, work, play and raise a family. To do this, we’re investing in health care, education, recreation and community facilities.

Our fourth goal is to strengthen First Nation partnerships. We want to continue working together with First Nations on building a strong economy and achieving a high quality of life in Yukon.

The mandate letters also outline specific tasks that are to be completed by the ministers and their respective departments. You can see the letters by visiting the Yukon government website at www.gov.yk.ca.

Our vision is to grow Yukon into a region that contributes to the economy of Canada, so that our children will have the same opportunities and advantages that we have. I look forward to working with my ministerial colleagues, deputy ministers, and our hard-working public servants to continue toward this shared goal.

While elected people set the vision, we count on the talents, dedication and hard work of a professional and non-partisan public service to turn our vision into reality. I would like to take this opportunity to thank those individuals for all their contributions to date. I have the utmost confidence that everything I have outlined in these new letters is achievable, with the help of the public service.

Great news across the board for Yukon athletes

Darrell Pasloski, Premier, MLA for MountainviewAs submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, August 7th, 2015
by Premier Darrell Pasloski

Yukon is known for producing world class athletes, despite our small population. Another season of summer sport is upon us, and this year is no different. Yet again, we have so many reasons to celebrate.

As I’m sure you’ve heard, Whitehorse’s Darby McIntyre, one of a very select few Yukoners to ever compete at the Special Olympics World Games, managed to claim a place on the podium at the Games last week in California. At 15, Darby was one of the youngest athletes on Team Canada, yet he won gold in the 5,000-metre race on Friday and bronze in the 1,500-metre on Saturday.

With a large group of McIntyre’s family and friends making the trip to L.A. for the Games, it’s easy to see why so many of our home-grown athletes have been so successful in their careers. This is a community committed to healthy living and healthy competition, supported by a wide range of people including family, coaches, mission staff, officials, volunteers and of course our athletes. We believe in each other and that makes an incredible difference.

The celebration is far from over, as in just a few days we will have the opportunity to cheer on another local talent as she takes the national stage. Thanks to five medals at the recent Canadian Track and Field Championships in Edmonton, Whitehorse athlete Jessica Frotten was able to secure a position on Team Canada for the Parapan American Games. She will compete in 100-, 400- and 800-metre wheelchair races which run August 7-15 in Toronto. Jessica has already made us so proud, I have every confidence she will represent us well at these games.

The opportunity to represent Canada is an incredible honour. Congratulations to both Darby and Jessica on their accomplishments.

The next generation of Yukon’s world-class athletes kicked off the 2015 Western Canada Summer Games on August 3 with a pep rally held at Shipyards Park in Whitehorse. Approximately 140 youth from across the territory travel to Wood Buffalo, Alberta this week to compete in the Games.

This is an amazing opportunity for our Yukon athletes to showcase their skills, further their athletic development, and compete against some of Canada’s best athletes. The Western Canada Summer Games, held every four years, were established in 1975 to provide development opportunities for amateur athletes from the four western provinces and three territories. This year’s Team Yukon includes athletes competing in 12 events including soccer, basketball, judo, and beach volleyball.

The Government of Yukon provided $325,000 to support Team Yukon’s attendance at this year’s Western Games, and provides additional funding for other games like these, including the Arctic Winter Games, as they are vital to athletic development. These opportunities are another way to nurture our athletes and help them reach new levels of achievement.

We’ve also recently announced more than $1.4 million in funding this year for Yukon’s sport and recreation community, which benefits athletes, coaches and officials. It was made possible through partnerships which include the Government of Yukon, the Yukon Lottery Commission and Sport Canada. This supports sport and recreation programs for Yukoners of all ages and helps build healthier, more active communities.

We are proud of each and every Yukon athlete. I would like to thank everyone who contributes to healthy active living for Yukoners of all ages for their hard work and dedication. Again, congratulations to Darby on his monumental performance last week, and best of luck to Jessica in Toronto, and to all our athletes participating at the Western Summer Games in Alberta. Go Yukon, Go!