Investing in science and knowledge – a new Science Strategy for Yukon

Darrell Pasloski, Premier, MLA for MountainviewAs submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, January 22, 2016
by Premier Darrell Pasloski

Supporting Yukon’s science, technology and research sectors is more important than ever before. Rapid changes to the North’s climate are affecting our environment, and the global economic downturn is challenging the way we do business and conduct our lives.

In the years ahead, we expect to see increased demand for land, housing, transportation and communications infrastructure, education and training. We will also see increased pressures on health care, social services and our environment.

That is why the Government of Yukon developed a made-in-Yukon Science Strategy, a guiding document that outlines our vision for developing and managing scientific knowledge in the territory. By increasing our scientific knowledge, we’ll be in a better position to tackle the unique challenges we face here in the North.

Our vision is to support strategic investments in the active pursuit of scientific knowledge. This will help us achieve our four priorities: a better quality of life, protection for the environment, a stronger economy and good governance.

Research, education and innovation are key to growing our northern knowledge sector, and are essential to continued economic growth, prosperity and competitiveness. This is why your government continues to make significant investments to encourage technical advancement and provide educational opportunities.

Since 2011, we have committed $10.78 million in support to the Yukon Research Centre. This funding supports important research and innovation programs focused on climate change, cold climate innovation, environmental science, society and culture, and technology innovation.

These funds also support the Cold Climate Innovation Centre, which builds on new research by creating commercial solutions that address cold climate issues affecting northerners.

Both institutions encourage and support Yukon’s creative thinkers and inventors, just the kind of people and companies whose ideas will help diversify our economy, create jobs and provide economic opportunities for all Yukoners.

The Yukon government has also committed more than $11 million over five years to the Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining, which provides Yukoners with the training they need to develop successful careers in the territory’s mining and other industries.

The centre also administers the Mobile Trades Training Trailer, which provides pre-apprenticeship training to high school and adult students in communities across Yukon.

As the mining industry recovers, our aim is to fill all new jobs with Yukon workers. Our funding will enable the centre to increase the diversity of courses offered, and to better provide the labour market with the skilled workers it needs.

One of the Yukon government’s goals is to make our territory a hub for the information and technology (IT) sector. To that end, we recently announced a $2 million annual funding increase to our IT capital budget – the money we use to procure local IT products and services.

This is a win-win for government and local industry. It will expand the opportunities for local businesses to bid on projects, and help them grow and create new jobs in the IT sector.

The Science Strategy will help the local science community access additional funding from other governments, agencies and universities to conduct new research projects. This will ensure that Yukon’s researchers and innovators have access to the facilities and financial support they need to succeed, and to share their successes with the global scientific community.

I would like to thank our Interdepartmental Science Committee and Yukon’s science advisor Dr. Aynslie Ogden for their work on the strategy. The committee’s next steps include developing a companion research strategy, cataloguing current research projects in Yukon, and working with the Northwest Territories and Nunavut to develop a pan-territorial approach to science.

The Government of Yukon will continue to support the active pursuit of scientific knowledge, and will apply that knowledge to sound, evidence-based decision making. Our ultimate goal is to ensure we address challenges and opportunities with smart innovative approaches and create advantages for Yukoners in the years ahead.