Category: Stacey Hassard Letters

Government, industry and stakeholders working together to showcase Yukon mining potential

Stacey Hassard, MLA for Pelly-NisutlinAs submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, July 15, 2016
by Stacey Hassard, Minister of Economic Development

This week, our government co-hosted the annual Investment Forum and Property Tour with the Yukon Mining Alliance (YMA). This partnership between government and industry is recognized by global resource leaders as an enviable model for mining promotion. Now, more than ever, it is important to stand up for our resource industry and this government is ensuring that no one out-promotes Yukon as a great place to do business.

The tour has proven invaluable over the past several years. Other ministers, government staff and I have engaged with potential investors, resource media and local industry, as well as First Nation leaders and development corporations to discuss priorities for the mining industry and the future performance of the sector.

This year, we heard promising stories of mining’s emergence from the worldwide mineral downturn. Yukon supply and service businesses are seeing increased demand from clients and activity has picked up at the mining recorder’s office in Dawson. Investors are once again looking to Yukon as a great jurisdiction to invest in and to do business.

Just this past January, Kaminak Gold Corporation announced positive feasibility results from its exploration of the Coffee Gold Project, located south of Dawson City. Since then, the company has been acquired by Goldcorp Inc., one of the world’s largest producers of gold. Goldcorp’s confidence in Yukon has served notice throughout the mining industry that Yukon is ready for business and that we have done everything we can to prepare for the next upswing in mineral markets.

Our government has been focused on the things we can control, to best position the territory for the mining sector’s emergence from the global downturn. We have invested in training for Yukoners, built infrastructure so that workers with mining-relevant skills remain in the territory and projects can benefit, endeavoured to improve our regulatory and assessment regimes, and actively promoted Yukon as a great place to invest.

The forum and tour are key aspects of our government’s greater commitment to promote and support investment in Yukon. We have dedicated $1 million to the YMA over the next three years, allowing them to facilitate a number of events and conferences that will continue to showcase mining opportunities in Yukon to the rest of the world.

Our government takes the time to network with industry leaders, build relationships with investors from other countries and encourage more foreign investment in Yukon-based exploration projects. This approach has laid the foundation for future success in the mining sector. World leaders like Goldcorp understand the potential here and the great work of this government to make it happen. The mining industry wants to be in Yukon and this government will continue to partner to make it happen.

We have exceptional potential for future resource development, and with the combined efforts of our government, the Yukon Mining Alliance and Yukon First Nations development corporations, it is clear that we will be well-positioned when the inevitable upturn in resource markets occurs.

Our government understands business and will continue to encourage investment in the mining sector, while at the same time ensuring responsible development here in Yukon.

For Yukoners, a challenge is an opportunity

Stacey Hassard, MLA for Pelly-NisutlinAs submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, March 11, 2016
by Stacey Hassard, Minister of Economic Development

As Premier Pasloski noted in this space just three weeks ago, mining has been a cornerstone of Yukon’s economy and an important part of our culture for more than a century.

While the mining industry has faced some very real challenges over the past five years, metal prices are slowly recovering, and share values in the sector are on the rise as well.

This is good news for Yukoners, because mining is one of the industries that will drive our economy for the next century. When the inevitable recovery takes place, Yukon will be positioned to take full advantage.

For the past week the premier, Minister of Energy Mines and Resources Scott Kent and I were in Toronto for the annual conference of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC). Joining us were representatives from the Yukon Mining Alliance and the Yukon First Nations Chamber of Commerce.

The PDAC conference is the world’s largest mineral and mining event. Last year it was attended by more than 1,000 exhibitors and 23,000 attendees from more than 100 countries. It is known as the place where miners come to do business.

That’s why we chose this week to call on the federal government to renew the Canadian Mineral Exploration Tax Credit. The credit provides incentives to the junior mining companies that are the lifeblood of Yukon’s industry.

Events like the PDAC conference provide opportunities to promote our mineral resources and investment opportunities by building partnerships and connecting with stakeholders, key companies and prospective investors.

We were at the conference to highlight Yukon’s remarkable endowment of mineral deposits, its potential for future resource development and its investment readiness. We remain one of the most under-explored districts in the world, and the resources that have been identified remain largely untapped.

To help attract these national players north, the Yukon Government, in partnership with the Yukon Mining Alliance, will host the first-ever Yukon Investment Conference in Dawson City from July 11 to 15.

This conference will bring together investors, industry representatives and mining analysts for keynote presentations by the Yukon government, corporate presentations, geological and infrastructure updates, and site visits to six of Yukon’s most advanced and prospective mining projects.

And we were also in Toronto to let the industry know that we have not been sitting idle during the downturn. We have used the time wisely, focusing on what we can control and laying the groundwork for an economic recovery that will bring prosperity to all Yukoners.

We are focused on building a solid framework for sustainable mine development over the long term. Part of that framework includes an effective assessment and regulatory regime.

Along with Yukon First Nations, the Yukon Water Board and the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board, the Government of Yukon is working to achieve greater clarity in the mine licensing process through its Mine Licensing Improvement Initiative – an important message for attendees at this convention.

Our goal is to reduce the duration and cost of assessments, without foregoing the checks and balances that ensure projects are responsible.

Another important part of our long-term path to prosperity is infrastructure. Before we can grow, we need to build. In the year ahead, our focus will be investing in infrastructure that will be important to the mining industry.

Yukon’s road network is the North’s most extensive, but extending and improving that network would enable access to new resources.

We are now eagerly awaiting a response from the federal government to our recent application for funding towards the Northern Resource Gateway Project.

This project will improve road access to two of Yukon’s richest resource areas: the White Gold district, location of Western Copper and Gold’s Casino Project and Kaminak’s Coffee Project; and the Selwyn basin, home to the Selwyn Chihong project, Golden Predator’s Three Aces property, and Canada’s largest lead-zinc deposits.

Working in partnership with Canada to create new resource access roads will increase the probability that these game-changing projects will become viable and move forward.

When they do, the benefits will be far-reaching. They will grow our economy and reduce our dependence on federal transfer payments, and will potentially employ thousands of Yukoners for years to come.

Improved infrastructure in Yukon will also bring benefits and opportunities to Yukon First Nations. As a recently released study from the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board notes, there is an “infrastructure deficit” in the North that’s a barrier to improving the quality of life of remote First Nation communities. Better infrastructure will bring social as well as economic development.

Our government remains committed to raising the profile of Yukon mineral and mining prospects and turning challenges into opportunities. We will continue working to let the world know that now is the time to invest in Yukon.

Yukon government investing in technology & telecom to meet Yukon’s needs

Scott Kent, MLA for Riverdale NorthStacey Hassard, MLA for Pelly-NisutlinAs submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, November 6, 2015
by Stacey Hassard, Minister of Economic Development
and Scott Kent, Minister of Highways & Public Works

For the past four plus years, our government has been focused on making investments to create an environment that allows Yukoners to succeed in their business ventures and make life better in the territory.

Last week, we continued to build on that record with the announcement of two more major investments in Information Technology (IT) infrastructure and services. These most recent investments help diversify the Yukon economy and create new opportunities.

While investments in traditional infrastructure – like roads, bridges and buildings – remain a cornerstone of our economic strategy, IT investments will help the territory grow beyond the traditional sectors of government, tourism and mining.

In our next budget, we will increase the amount of capital spending on IT initiatives. Our annual investment will go up by $2 million, bringing the total yearly investment to $8.5 million, a 30 percent increase.

This means that people and businesses working in Yukon’s IT sector will have more opportunities for contracts and jobs. Examples of what Yukon IT firms have delivered on in the past include expansions to fibre optic networks and mobile radio systems, as well as development and maintenance of government IT systems.

What many people might not realize is that our IT sector is a significant contributor to our economy. We are proud of what our IT sector has already accomplished and we believe this new investment will support even more growth and exciting new opportunities.

By spending more on IT infrastructure projects, we accomplish two goals: 1) to provide better connectivity, mobility and overall improvements to government programs and services, and 2) to enhance opportunities for local IT businesses to bid on projects, help businesses grow and create jobs in the IT sector.

We also recently announced the route for a new fibre optic project to provide backup (or redundancy) to our critical telecommunications services. Everyone remembers the disruptions that occur during significant Internet outages, such as the one last September 23, and no one wants to see that repeated.

The recently-announced project will see the connection of Yukon’s existing fibre optic system to the NWT government’s Mackenzie Valley fibre optic line to Inuvik. This will create a fibre loop which will protect Internet, telephone, cellular and credit card services as well as government and emergency 911 services where available. It will mean data can flow in another direction, if the line is damaged at any point by fire, road equipment, or other causes.

Every Yukon community will benefit from this increased redundancy, with 10 Yukon communities along the fibre line gaining full redundancy.

Northwestel, as our partner in the project, will contribute funds to strengthen fibre infrastructure in Yukon, including extending the existing fibre line from Stewart Crossing to Dawson City. This means that in addition to redundancy, there will be an increase in the number of communities with reliable fibre service.

This enhanced reliability will provide the confidence for businesses to invest and expand, which opens up some very exciting opportunities.

By choosing this route, our government is also demonstrating that we believe the ownership and operation of internet fibre within Yukon is best left to the private sector, which has both the capacity and innovative spirit to make it happen. In the future, if there is a business case to be made, the private sector is able to bring yet another fibre route to Yukon.

This fully redundant fibre loop, along with our substantial investment in IT procurement, will set the stage for even more growth and opportunities for Yukon. It will continue to strengthen our territory as the best place in Canada to live, to work, to play and raise a family.

Health care, housing and continuing care for seniors: A Yukon government priority

Mike Nixon, MLA for Porter Creek SouthStacey Hassard, MLA for Pelly-NisutlinAs submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, October 2, 2015
by Stacey Hassard, Minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation
and Mike Nixon, Minister of Health & Social Services

The Yukon Party government has a proven track record of investment in the health and wellbeing of Yukon seniors and elders. Since forming government in 2002, we have made significant investments in health care for seniors, ranging from basic supportive services that help them remain independently at home to long term facilities for complex care.

We make every effort to help seniors stay in their own homes and in their own communities, with family and friends nearby. But when that is not possible, we are proud to offer them the finest in continuing care programs. Seniors and elders are an essential part of our families and of our communities. Many are parents, grandparents and great grandparents who are at the centre of family life. We want to give back and care for them, as they have cared for us.

There is broad agreement that remaining at home, or “aging in place” is the ideal strategy for most. For those who cannot do so, our government dedicates extensive resources to social housing through the Yukon Housing Corporation and to continuing care facilities through the Department of Health and Social Services.

Seniors’ social housing is primarily for low-income individuals who cannot obtain affordable and suitable housing on the private housing market. The Yukon Housing Corporation (YHC) has 200 residential units in its social housing stock that are exclusively for seniors and provide opportunity for those aged 65 years and older (or over 55 with mobility challenges) to live independently. The seniors’ buildings offer residents affordable housing that is safe and convenient. For example, the new Mayo seniors’ 6-plex includes wheelchair access, push-button elevating cabinets, way-finding and visual aids, large low-threshold showers, and common areas for socializing. The safe and comfortable units provide lower income seniors with the option to age in place in their community.

The design features of YHC’s newest buildings benefit from the input of an Accessibility Advisory Committee, comprised of Yukon Housing Corporation and Health and Social Services staff, along with community partners from groups such as the Yukon Council on Aging and the Challenge-Disability Resource Group.

Yukon Housing Corporation also prioritizes housing placement for those seniors that need to move from rural Yukon to a community with hospital services in order to be closer to critical medical care.

When medical needs are greater than can be managed at home, even with professional assistance, moving to a continuing care facility is often the wisest and safest option. And in many cases, it’s the only option. There are currently four continuing care facilities in Yukon: Copper Ridge Place, Thomson Centre, and Macaulay Lodge in Whitehorse, and McDonald Lodge in Dawson City.

Yukon continuing care staff endeavour to create a feeling of home and belonging for all residents. They are dedicated to understanding the unique needs of each and every resident. Employees work hard to create a community that respects and promotes dignity, individual freedom, choice, lifestyle and meaningful quality living while at the same time managing acute health care needs.

Copper Ridge Place is a 96-bed continuing care facility that provides complex care for seniors and non-seniors with chronic ailments or those who need extensive assistance with activities of daily living on a 24-hour basis. It also has a special care program providing individualized care in a therapeutic and secure environment for clients with dementia.

Thomson Centre is a 29-bed facility that also offers high level continuing care services, while Macaulay Lodge, with 47 beds, currently offers intermediate level residential care, in addition to respite care for seniors and adults with complex care needs.

McDonald Lodge, located in Dawson City, provides continuing care for those who require light to moderate assistance and personal care. It has 9 residential beds and 2 respite beds. It also provides home care nursing, home support services and meals on wheels to clients who live in their own homes.

In addition, we are building a new 150-bed continuing care facility in the Whistle Bend area of Whitehorse, designed to provide the highest levels of care for those who require 24/7 nursing care and monitoring. It will be a warm and comfortable home, while offering the necessary medical care, including community hospice palliative care, a specialized mental health unit, a community day program, a First Nation healing centre and a traditional food program.

As a government, we are proud of our legacy of consistently considering all aspects of health care for Yukon seniors and elders, as well as our record of timely investment in their well-being.

As Ministers of Yukon Housing Corporation and Health and Social Services we would like to thank each and every employee for their professionalism and their dedication as they contribute to the care of Yukon seniors and elders.

For more information on social housing go to http://www.housing.yk.ca/seniors.html.
For more information on continuing care programs go to http://www.hss.gov.yk.ca/residentialcare.php.

To speak with someone about housing options for seniors in Yukon, call 867-667-5712.

Mayo seniors’ residence officially opened

Stacey Hassard, MLA for Pelly-Nisutlin

As submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, September 4th, 2015
by Stacey Hassard, Minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation

I was honoured to open the new seniors’ residence in Mayo last week with Premier Darrell Pasloski and several members of the community, including Mayor Scott Bolton, and local seniors and elders. The $3.34 million project provides low income seniors with a new rental housing option, which in turn frees up units for other residents.

Seniors represent the fastest growing demographic in Yukon. In 2011, we made a commitment to build this facility and your government is very pleased to deliver it on time and on budget. This new residence will allow seniors to remain in their home and community longer, close to family and friends. It will help to meet the need in Mayo for years to come.

Internal and external glimpses of the new Mayo Seniors Residence.

Internal and external glimpses of the new Mayo Seniors Residence.

Accessibility features, such as low-threshold showers and barrier-free design, allow seniors with physical limitations to live safe and independent lives. The energy-efficient facility also features common areas that will allow for gatherings and visits. Special attention has been paid to the bathrooms, kitchens and mechanical systems, including light switches, door handles and plumbing fixtures.

This is the second completed seniors’ residence in Yukon to employ accessibility features as recommended by Yukon Housing’s Accessibility Committee. The objective is to build seniors’ housing that allows elderly people to live independent lives in comfort and with appropriate safety enhancements. These features help seniors do common household activities that many of us may take for granted, but which may become more difficult to perform as we age.

Mayo Senior's Residence

Minister Hassard, Yukon Housing Corporation Chair Janet Moodie, Premier Darrell Pasloski and Mayor Scott Bolton at the grand opening in Mayo.

The lead for the construction of this new residence was the Yukon Housing Corporation. The Village of Mayo played an important role, contributing to this project with its gracious donation of the lot. Through the Affordable Housing Initiative, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation contributed $450,000 to the cost of the $3.34 million project.

I would like to acknowledge architect Charles A McLaren, the designer of this building and its many features, and Ken Eby and his team at Cardinal Construction whose crew of talented tradespeople constructed this unique building, again, on time and on budget.

Approximately 30 tradespeople were employed – several of these were apprentices and locally hired in Mayo. Investments made by our government into new housing projects in Yukon mean jobs for Yukoners and lasting benefits for the entire community.

In recent years, the Yukon Housing Corporation has constructed new seniors’ social housing facilities in Watson Lake, Teslin, Faro, Haines Junction, and Whitehorse, including the new 34-unit Alexander Street residence. In addition, a new 48-unit seniors’ housing complex is under construction on Front Street in Whitehorse and is scheduled for completion this fall.

I am sure the new residence in Mayo will become a gathering place for many families coming to visit elder family members and friends. This residence demonstrates the government’s commitment to ensure more housing options are available to rural seniors and elders. We made this a priority and we are proud of our track record of delivering on our promises to Yukoners.