WHITEHORSE – During the 2019 Spring Sitting, the Liberal Government did not allow sufficient time to debate the departmental budgets for Health and Social Services and Education.
The Department of Health and Social Services is the largest area of government in terms of expenditures. This year, it has a budget of over $443 million (almost 30 percent of the government’s entire budget) and its current staff total is 1,414 full-time equivalent positions. The Department of Education budget is $214.5 million. The combined total budget for these two departments is $657.9 million, which is 45.8 percent of the government’s total expenses for the year.
The government determines when and how often a departmental budget can be debated as they set the business of the House on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.
Despite their significant place in the territory’s budget, the departments of Health and Social Services and Education were only debated for approximately 4.4 percent of the total hours in this Sitting.
In comparison, the government delivered 18 Ministerial Statements in the Spring Sitting. This means that up to approximately 3.5 percent of the Legislature’s time was spent debating these statements, which were often re-announcements, instead of debating the Health and Education budgets.
At the beginning of the Spring Sitting the Official Opposition requested the number of sitting days be set for 32 days. This request, along with the concern that there was not enough time to debate the $1.5 billion budget, was further reiterated in the House on March 26th and on April 15th.
With the same concerns at the end of the Spring Sitting, the Official Opposition brought forward a motion on April 30th, stating that an extra two days would allow enough time to finish debating the larger budget items. Unfortunately the government did not agree to the motion.
THAT the 2019 Spring Sitting of the Yukon Legislative Assembly be extended by two sitting days with Standing Order 76 taking effect at 5:00 p.m. on May 2, 2019, for the purpose of allowing additional debate on:
(1) the estimates for the Department of Health and Social Services, Vote 15, in Bill No. 210, First Appropriation Act 2019‑20;
(2) the estimates for the Department of Education, Vote 3, in Bill No. 210, First Appropriation Act 2019‑20; and|
(3) Bill No. 33, Yukon Government Carbon Price Rebate Implementation Act; and
THAT government-designated business shall have precedence on Wednesday, May 1, 2019.