Category: Mike Nixon Letters

Support local business and shop Yukon

As Submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, December 12th, 2014 by Mike Nixon, Minister of Tourism and Culture

December is a busy time for Yukoners. Juggling staff parties, children’s concerts and family dinners can push your Christmas shopping to the back burner. But whether you are one of the few who is ahead of the game with just a few last-minute items to pick up, or are like the majority of us who perhaps haven’t even gotten started, there is still time to consider where you’ll be making your purchases. I encourage all Yukoners to consider shopping locally.

Small businesses play a crucial role in creating jobs, strengthening community cohesion and enhancing local character. They are an essential part of Yukon’s economy. The benefits of shopping locally can help build a lasting culture of support for small business and can serve to inspire local entrepreneurs. Indeed, if you’ve heard this week’s news, you will see that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the territory. Five-year-old Yukoner Huxley Briggs has taken it upon himself to build and sell his own product at a Whitehorse toy store. The young entrepreneur has crafted wooden blocks from his father’s spare wood, approaching the store in person to get them on the shelves. Part of the sales will go to Big Brothers Big Sisters, thanks to the help and encouragement of the store owner.

While Briggs embodies the creativity and drive required to get a product to market, success is largely dependent on a supportive community. This is why the Yukon government undertook initiatives to create an environment that better enables small business and local products to succeed. We recently amended the Income Tax Act, reducing the small business corporate tax rate from four per cent to three per cent, allowing businesses to retain a greater portion of their earnings.

We remain committed to working with farmers and industry associations to increase the production and sales in the Yukon agricultural and agri-food industry, including supporting local markets. See if you can land some local meat or vegetables on your table for Christmas dinner.

Shoppers can also look for the Created in Yukon snowflake symbol, which raises awareness of the wide range of Yukon-made arts and crafts products. The symbol helps consumers quickly identify locally-made or locally-produced items. Purchasing these items directly supports Yukon artists and craftspeople. We are fortunate to have such a vibrant arts and crafts sector working in our territory.

I’m pleased to see the number of local businesses cropping up in Yukon. Yukoners making special trips into Whitehorse may be surprised at all the new options for Christmas shopping in our capital city.

Local businesses are owned and operated by people who live here, and are invested in our community’s future. They hire other Yukoners, sponsor events and contribute to our charities. In fact, donations to local charities and non-profit organizations also make great gifts. To find a list of Yukon non-profit organization names and contacts, you can visit this website, that Yukon College’s research helped compile.

On behalf of the Yukon government, I wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday season, and encourage all Yukoners to consider local options when celebrating this Christmas.

Mike Nixon

Minister of Tourism and Culture

Marketing Yukon: the best place to live, work, play and visit

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, October 31st, 2014 by Mike Nixon

Given Yukon’s incredible natural assets, rich heritage and culture, wilderness, wildlife, northern lights, midnight sun and the welcoming spirit of Yukoners, our impressive tourism statistics come as no surprise. We offer tourists an unparalleled travel experience.

Since 2009, Yukon has outperformed the national average for international visitation. Between 2004 and 2012, visitation from other Canadian jurisdictions increased by an astounding 127 per cent. The total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) attributable to tourism was about $114 million in 2012, or 4.3 per cent of Yukon’s total GDP. That means tourism in Yukon makes a larger percentage contribution to the economy than in any other province or territory, with the exception of Prince Edward Island.

This government is committed to diversifying Yukon’s economy, and we believe tourism plays a large role. As announced on September 4, we are launching a new marketing program that will build on existing momentum to raise awareness in Canada of Yukon as a year-round travel destination.

Last week at the annual Tourism Open House at the Whitehorse Visitor Information Centre, we unveiled details about the initiative we are calling Yukon Now. The Yukon Now program is being jointly funded by the Yukon government and the federal government’s Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor). This is the territory’s largest tourism marketing initiative to date, with each government investing $1.8 million over two years, increasing the tourism marketing budget by $3.6 million.

Yukon Now will take an integrated approach and will use a diverse set of marketing tools. A key component of this will be the development and airing of highly engaging television commercials promoting Yukon as a winter and summer travel destination.

An innovative aspect of Yukon Now will be the direct involvement of Yukoners in telling their own stories to market Yukon. Who better to promote our territory than the people who experience it for themselves every day? Through digital
technology and social media, we’re enabling Yukoners to tell the world what they think is special about their home and why the world should visit.

A digital storytelling component coordinated with the Screen Production Yukon Association (SPYA) will engage local producers in the development of web series. Community meetings in Whitehorse, Dawson City, Haines Junction and Watson Lake are providing more opportunities for the public to provide input about what makes Yukon special.

This program is taking us in a new and exciting direction and I believe it will put Yukon on the map like never before. Yukon’s fastest growing market is Canada, and it continues to show potential for even more growth in both the summer and winter seasons. The program will focus primarily on the Canadian market but includes strategic investments in overseas and U.S. markets.

This is an exciting time for Yukon’s tourism industry, and I encourage you to get involved. Visit www.yukoncontent.ca to see how you can submit your photos, stories and videos to become part of the Yukon Now marketing initiative. You can find out more about it on our Travel Yukon website, travelyukon.com, and you can follow us on Twitter at both @TravelYukon and @insideyukon.

Help us showcase our beautiful home and bring in more visitors than ever before.

Mike Nixon

Minister of Tourism & Culture

The world is taking notice of Yukon

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, September 5th, 2014.

by Mike Nixon, Minister of Tourism and Culture

Did you know that millions and millions of dollars of total private sector revenue, attributable to tourism, go directly into our local economy? This includes money spent on hotels, restaurants, tour operators, suppliers, and so on. The dollars I speak of total $250 million, to be precise. Based on these revenues, the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) attributable to tourism was about $114 million in 2012, or 4.3% per cent of Yukon’s total GDP. That means tourism in Yukon makes a larger percentage contribution to the economy than in any other province or territory, with the exception of Prince Edward Island.

Our 2013 visitation numbers were exceptional. Yukon attracts adventurers looking for authentic experiences they can get nowhere else. We are now attracting visitors like history buffs, nature-lovers, and extreme sports adrenaline junkies from all over the globe! We also attract seniors on bus tours and families with young children.

We really do offer something for everyone, which is partly why we are starting to get the national and international attention we need to continue to build on our flourishing tourism industry.

The other, equally important reason we’re attracting so much interest is collaborative, strategic investment. The Yukon Party government sees the tourism industry as a critical component of a strong and diverse economy. We also recognise that working together with local operators, businesses and stakeholders plays a huge role in our tourism outcomes. The success we are experiencing is directly linked to the government’s commitment to promoting Yukon as an attractive year-round destination, and our vibrant and capable private sector.

Since 2009, Yukon has outperformed the national average for international visitation. So, in this fiscal year alone, your Yukon government increased the annual overseas markets investment to $590k. Overseas markets have demonstrated that they provide significant and sustained growth opportunities for Yukon. The funds will be used for consumer marketing in German-speaking Europe and Australia, cooperative marketing agreements with key tour operators, and maintaining General Sales Agents in Germany, Japan, the UK, and Australia, among other initiatives.

Yukon’s visitation performance is truly exemplary. Between 2004 and 2012, visitation from other Canadian jurisdictions increased by an astounding 127 per cent, while visitation from overseas markets grew by 79 per cent. More record-breaking statistics reveal that private vehicles and motor coach traffic, crossing the border into Yukon increased by eight per cent in 2013 over 2012.

This is why just this week I joined Yukon’s MP Ryan Leef to announce the single largest investment in tourism marketing in the Yukon government’s history. The Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) and the Yukon government will each invest $1.8 million over two years for an enhanced tourism marketing program, which will help draw more visitors to Yukon. This joint initiative will increase Yukon’s tourism marketing budget by $3.6 million.

The initiative will take an integrated approach and include a diverse set of marketing tools including new Yukon television commercials that will be strategically broadcast in the Canadian market.

In addition, this coming February I will lead a tourism trade mission to Japan, Yukon’s fastest growing tourism market. The Asian marketplace includes countries like China, an under-served emerging market with vast promise for growth. This visit will enable the research we need to continue to ensure our investments are strategic, and reflect what each market is seeking. This is just one more opportunity in an industry with truly limitless potential.

Your Yukon government is committed to a Yukon tourism strategy that remains industry led, market driven, and research based. The world is starting to take notice of us. There are more opportunities for Yukon on the horizon, and with our combined efforts we can attract more visitors to experience why we are so very proud to call this place our home.

Minister of Tourism & Culture

Mike Nixon

Straight facts on operations at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre

Straight facts on operations at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, August 29th, 2014.
by Mike Nixon, Minister of Justice

Dear Yukoners,

I would like to share with you why I am proud of the programs, services and staff at Whitehorse Correctional Centre (WCC).

WCC staff provides primary day-to-day contact for inmates – 24 hours a day – 7 days a week — delivering the majority of programs and services to inmates. When I speak with WCC staff about their work, it is abundantly clear that they truly care about the inmates. I am also impressed by how professionally and efficiently staff deals with the challenges of their daily responsibilities.

Either the Court or the Yukon Review Board (YRB) determines who is sent to WCC. This decision is based on the available options and on the fact and circumstances submitted by various parties. The correctional centre is responsible for managing the inmates under the conditions specified by the Court or the YRB. This includes remand inmates, and those individuals who are deemed not criminally responsible for their crimes.

Many inmates have complex needs and issues, and WCC is committed to public safety and the rehabilitation and healing of individuals placed into its care. The programming at WCC is available to men and women. Sentenced offenders have case plans that direct programming to address criminal behaviour. Remanded inmates (those awaiting sentencing) can volunteer for any programming offered in the facility. Programming addresses rehabilitation needs, spirituality, First Nation cultural activities, life skills, work, education and recreation.

WCC provides medical and dental services to all inmates. Upon being admitted to WCC, each inmate is screened for physical health concerns and is referred to services as required. Nursing staff are available 16 hours a day, 7 days week. There is a doctor, a dentist and an optometrist on contract to the facility, and they are available for regular scheduled appointments and emergency care. If services can’t be provided on site, inmates can be transferred to Whitehorse General Hospital.

All WCC inmates have access to mental health services. Upon admittance, inmates are assessed for mental health concerns. There is a psychologist and a psychiatrist on contract to the facility.

The psychiatrist provides psychiatric services including medication management for inmates who require it. The psychologist visits WCC a minimum of once a week and does screening, assessments, and one-to-one counselling. The psychologist also works closely with Mental Health Services to make referrals for community treatment and inmates will see the psychologist within 1 week of making a request. In addition, WCC staff receives basic training on recognizing symptoms of mental illnesses and cognitive delays.

WCC was not built to be a mental health facility. However, when the situation demands secure custody, the Court may order WCC to house people with mental health issues who have committed crimes and are found unfit to stand trial or not criminally responsible until the YRB can assess the case. YRB hearings are required to take place within 45 days of a person being found not criminally responsible. This process does take time because it is rare that a person is found unfit to stand trial or not criminally responsible during the person’s first court appearance.

Yukon Corrections has a complaint process for all inmates. If an inmate’s concern cannot be resolved by WCC, the inmate can take the concern to the Investigations and Standards Office (ISO). The ISO is an independent body, established under the Corrections Act, which investigates all manner of complaints and undertakes inspections at WCC.

Yukon is a small jurisdiction, and at times WCC must provide services that would be provided by another facility in a larger jurisdiction. Inmates at WCC include those who are serving a sentence, on remand, federal inmates serving out a sentence, as well as persons held for immigration detention, and persons not criminally responsible or unfit to stand trial.

WCC staff is tasked with many responsibilities and I am confident that they are delivering services and programs that benefit the inmate population, while at the same time meeting the requirements set out by the Court, the Corrections Act and the WCC policies and procedures.

I welcome you to visit the Justice website for more information about the Corrections Branch and Whitehorse Correctional Centre, www.justice.gov.yk.ca

Mike Nixon

Minister of Justice

Gratitude for their service and sacrifice

Mike Nixon, MLA for Porter Creek South As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, July 11th, 2014 by Mike Nixon, Minister of Justice

Just a few short weeks ago, the nation was shocked to hear about the tragic series of events in Moncton, New Brunswick, which took the lives of RCMP Constable David Ross, Constable Fabrice Gevaudan and Constable Douglas Larche.

This great loss reminds us of the continuing service provided by RCMP members and police officers across our country. Here in Yukon, we are extremely grateful for the police service provided throughout the territory to our citizens. Sadly, this service sometimes extends to serious injury and even the loss of life. For this sacrifice, we offer our thanks and gratitude.

The role that RCMP members play in Yukon to preserve the peace, uphold the law and provide quality service in partnership with our communities is much appreciated. In our travels across Yukon, we hear time and again how much Yukoners appreciate RCMP members’ contribution individually and collectively to our territory.

As Minister of Justice, I have the opportunity to hear these comments and to pass them along to our partners at the RCMP. Yesterday, I was honoured to attend the RCMP “M” Division Awards Ceremony in Whitehorse, together with RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson, who is visiting the territory, and the Commanding Officer for “M” Division, Peter Clark. It was a privilege to be part of an event which recognizes the excellence in service offered by our local RCMP members.

It was also a wonderful opportunity to welcome the Commissioner to Yukon, as he spends time meeting with Yukoners, including myself, Justice officials, other leaders and RCMP members.
Here in Yukon, the RCMP, the Yukon Department of Justice, First Nations, women’s organizations and other partners have a strong working relationship that has allowed us to implement a number of initiatives that have already had a positive impact on Yukoners’ connection with the RCMP. Harmonious relationships are the foundation for safe, healthy and peaceful communities, and the RCMP has been thoroughly committed to improving policing and gaining a greater cultural understanding of our territory.

Mounties have a special place in Yukon’s history from before the creation of the territory as a separate administrative region. From the time of Inspector Charles Constantine and Superintendent Sam Steele to today, Yukoners have had a deep and enduring respect for the RCMP. The outpouring of support across the nation and here in Yukon, after the events in Moncton, reflects that gratitude.

Yukoners are well aware of the work done by all members of our local “M” Division, as well as their RCMP counterparts stationed across our nation. Thank you for what you do each day and the sacrifices you make to help and protect your fellow citizens in times of need.

Our territory is grateful for the RCMP’s legacy of outstanding officers, guided by bravery, honour, courage, integrity and leadership.