How the government works

Organization

Yukon is divided into 19 electoral districts.

During a territorial election, the candidate in each district who wins the highest number of votes becomes the Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for that district. The leader of the political party with the most winning candidates becomes the Premier of Yukon. The Premier and Ministers form the government.

Go the Elections Yukon website.

Legislation

A bill is a proposed law. MLAs debate and vote on bills in the Legislative Assembly. When a bill is passed by the Legislative Assembly and receives assent from the Commissioner it becomes part of the law of Yukon. Once a bill becomes a law it is called an act or statute.

Go the legislation website.

Mandate letters

The Premier presents a mandate letter to each Cabinet Minister outlining their responsibilities for implementing the commitments the government has made to Yukoners. The Premier sends mandate letters to Ministers to focus the government’s resources on specific commitments.

Find mandate letters.

Key positions

The Commissioner of Yukon

The Commissioner of Yukon is appointed by the Governor General of Canada and represents the federal government in Yukon in a largely constitutional and symbolic role. They are a senior member of Yukon’s governance system and generally act on the advice of elected officials.

The Commissioner is part of the legislative arm of government, along with the Legislative Assembly. Their constitutional duties include:

  • ensuring Yukon always has a Premier for the continuity of the government;
  • opening and closing each legislative session;
  • assenting to bills passed by the Yukon Legislative Assembly;
  • signing Orders-in-Council, Commissioner’s warrants, statutory appointments and dispositions of Commissioner’s lands on the advice of Cabinet; and
  • representing the distinct interests of Yukon’s people by acting as a symbolic head of Yukon, including attending official functions.

Angélique Bernard is the Commissioner of Yukon.

Go the the Commissioner of Yukon's website.

The Legislature

The Legislature is the territorial equivalent of Canada’s Parliament. Yukon’s Legislature is made up of the Commissioner of Yukon and the Yukon Legislative Assembly. The Premier and Cabinet belong to the political party with the most elected members in the Legislative Assembly.

Elections

A Yukon general election must be held within 5 years of the previous election. In a general election, Yukoners vote on who they want to represent them in the Legislative Assembly.

If a Legislative Assembly seat is vacated before the next election a by-election is called. This by-election is only held in one constituency. The winner becomes the MLA for that constituency until the next general election.

Elections in Yukon are conducted by an independent Office of the Legislative Assembly, under the direction of the Chief Electoral Officer. This ensures that elections are conducted in a fair and unbiased manner.

Elections Yukon conducts territorial elections of Members of the Legislative Assembly, in accordance with the Elections Act.

Go to the Elections Yukon website.

The Premier

The Premier is the head of the Government of Yukon. The leader of the political party with the most seats in the Legislative Assembly becomes the Premier. The Premier doesn’t need to be an MLA to lead the territory, but they do need to be an MLA to sit in the assembly and participate in debate.

The Premier is also the head of the Executive Council which is the committee of Ministers that forms the Cabinet and leads the government.

Sandy Silver is the Premier of Yukon and Minister of the Executive Council Office.

About Premier Sandy Silver.

Executive Council Office

The Executive Council Office provides support to the Premier and members of the Executive Council, also known as the Cabinet. This department is responsible for ensuring that strategic planning, policy development and public engagement are effective and coordinated across the government. The office is led by the deputy minister of the Executive Council Office who also serves as the Cabinet secretary.

The Cabinet

The Cabinet, also known as the Executive Council, comprises Ministers who are in charge of specific government departments and corporations. The Cabinet is the senior decision-making body in the government. It decides on policy matters, approves Orders-in-Council and is the final authority on issues related to the day-to-day operation of the government. The Premier chairs Cabinet.

The Speaker

The speaker directs debates and proceedings in the Legislative Assembly. The Speaker is an elected MLA. All MLAs vote for the Speaker at the beginning of the first legislative session after an election.

Nils Clarke is the speaker of the Yukon Legislative Assembly.

The Opposition

The Opposition is made up of MLAs who aren’t part of the governing party. The role of the Opposition is to critique government activity, propose improvements to legislation and present itself to the public as an alternative to the party in office.

The Yukon Party has the most opposition seats in the Legislative Assembly and is called the official Opposition. The remaining opposition seats are held by the New Democratic Party.

Members of the Legislative Assembly

Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) are elected by Yukoners to make the laws we live by in the territory. Each MLA represents an electoral district. The MLAs the Premier selects to represent departments and corporations are called Ministers and are members of the Cabinet. Those who aren’t in Cabinet are caucus members of their particular political party.

Yukon’s last general election was held on November 7, 2016. Yukoners elected MLAs to 19 seats.

Go to the Yukon Legislative Assembly members web page.

Departments and corporations

The Government of Yukon is made up of several departments and corporations. They deliver the programs and services mandated by Yukon’s laws. Each department is headed by a deputy minister. This is a member of the Yukon public service who reports to a minister. Ministers are elected officials and members of Cabinet.

Corporations are headed by a President who receives guidance and direction from a board of directors. Corporation boards report to the Yukon Legislative Assembly through a Minister.

Find a government department or corporation.

Boards and committees

Many members of the public support the work of the Government of Yukon by serving on boards and committees.

Boards and committees are outside the main government structure. They cover a broad range of topics and have different roles. They help with the delivery of some public services, make decisions or give advice to the government.

Around 1,000 people serve on the government’s 100 or so boards and committees. Any Yukon resident can apply to be a member.

Government committees

Government committees review and approve policy decisions, long-range strategic priorities and legislation to be tabled in the Yukon Legislative Assembly. These committees are:

Cabinet

The Cabinet is the government's most senior committee. It makes decisions about government policy, including legislation. The Premier chairs the Cabinet and all Ministers are members.

Management Board

The Management Board approves how the government allocates financial and human resources.

The Minister of Finance chairs the Management Board and two other Ministers are appointed as members. In Yukon, the Premier is also the Minister of Finance.

Cabinet Committee on Legislation

The Cabinet Committee on Legislation plans and approves the legislative work the government does.

The Minister of Justice chairs the Cabinet Committee on Legislation and all Ministers are members.

Cabinet Committee on Priorities and Planning

The Cabinet Committee on Priorities and Planning sets and monitors progress on the government’s priorities. It also makes decisions about how to deal with new policy matters.

The Premier chairs the Cabinet Committee on Priorities and Planning and all Ministers are members.

Meet the Ministers.

Public service

Government of Yukon’s public servants work for a department or corporation. They perform legal, policy, administrative and practical duties needed to deliver programs and services to Yukoners.