The Yukon has enjoyed economic growth every year since 2016, including during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the territory continues to have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. However, many Yukoners are feeling financial pressures due to inflation.
To alleviate these pressures, the Government of Yukon has introduced a number of measures to make life more affordable for all Yukoners.
Some of the ways that the Government of Yukon is making housing more affordable for everyone include:
- Opening new accessible, affordable duplexes in Mayo and Carmacks in August 2023, that will be allocated to Yukon Housing Corporation Clients through its housing programs.
- Investing in supportive housing options for low-income seniors and Elders by expanding the number of spaces available to Yukon Housing Corporation clients at Normandy Living. Normandy Living is the first private seniors’ supportive living community in the Yukon, filling a gap in the housing market by providing supportive housing for seniors who are not in need of long-term care.
- Launching the Yukon Home Ownership Loan Program in 2022 and expanding the program in April 2023 to include applications from Whitehorse residents. This program helps to address the growing need for safe, affordable and stable housing by helping eligible Yukoners build or buy a home.
- Supporting the construction of approximately 159 new affordable, energy-efficient homes across the territory by providing funding to eleven shovel ready projects through the sixth intake of the Housing Initiatives Fund (HIF). Since the Government of Yukon launched the HIF in 2018, the program has provided over $28 million for 56 construction projects, supporting the construction of 645 affordable new homes and 154 additional homes.
- Collaborating with provincial partners on housing development, exchanging best practices for creating investment-ready housing development and encouraging skills and knowledge sharing across the national housing sector.
- Delivering over 800 lots since 2016 in Whitehorse and rural communities for residential, commercial and industrial development.
- Being on track to deliver 1,000 lots over 5 years by fiscal year 2025-26.
- Introducing new protections for renters against above-market rent increases.
- Funding, alongside federal and municipal partners, the construction of Boreal Commons, an 87-unit rental development in Whitehorse’s Whistle Bend neighbourhood. Eighteen units in Boreal Commons have below-market rates, ten of which will be prioritized for young adults and newcomers to Canada. 12 of the 87 units are accessible, supporting seniors and people with mobility challenges.
- Providing $15.8 million, through the Yukon Housing Corporation, to fund the development at 401 Jeckell Street in Whitehorse of 47 new affordable homes for families, seniors and individuals on Yukon Housing Corporation’s waitlist.
- Building triplexes in Watson Lake, Mayo and Whitehorse through the Rapid Housing Initiatives.
- Partnering with the Government of Canada to provide the Canada-Yukon Housing Benefit, a direct-to-household benefit program helping low-to-moderate income Yukoners get help paying their rent.
- Creating, and then extending, a tipping fee holiday from July 28 to September 3, 2023 for brush, trees and clean wood brought to Deep Creek, Marsh Lake, Mount Lorne, Tagish and Carcross landfills, to make it easier for homeowners and residents to clean up their properties.
Some of the ways that the Government of Yukon is offsetting the costs of responding to our climate emergency include:
- Working with the Government of Canada to secure up to $5.9 million to support low-income homeowners so they can transition from home heating oil to low-emitting heating technologies.
- Working with the Government of Canada to secure up to $30.5 million, through the Low Carbon Economy Fund, to support mutual targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050.
- Providing funding to help residents pay for damages to their property and possessions caused by flooding, in 2022 and 2023. Yukon residents and businesses impacted by 2023 flooding in the Klondike Valley and Klondike area should apply for the 2023 Flood Recovery Funding Program before 4:30 pm Yukon Time on October 3, 2023.
- Expanding and then extending the Inflation Relief Rebate to reduce the impacts of inflation on Yukoners. This rebate is applied automatically to all residential and commercial ATCO Electric Yukon and Yukon Energy electricity bills for 3 months. Budget 2023-24 contains $5.3 million in funding to extend the Inflation Relief Rebate.
- Installing a new biomass heating system at Elijah Smith Elementary School. This biomass heating system will offset 180 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year – the equivalent of 65,000 litres of heating oil.
- Providing rebates for home energy upgrades, through programs including the Refrigerator Retirement Program, for insulation and air sealing upgrades, for qualifying energy upgrades to residential or commercial buildings, for installation of new ENERGY STAR® windows, for installation of heat-recovery ventilators (HRV), installation of a heat pump in a new home, installation of a domestic solar hot-water heating system, installation of a drain-water heat-recovery system and through the ZeroPath rebate for new energy-efficient homes, among other programs.
- Offering low-cost funding of up to 25 per cent of property value to reduce Yukoners’ home energy use by 20 per cent or more through the Better Buildings program.
Some of the ways that the Government of Yukon is looking out for the most vulnerable Yukoners include:
- Raising the territory’s minimum wage in April 2023 from $15.70 to $16.77 per hour and tying future yearly increases to the Consumer Price Index for Whitehorse.
- Creating, in April 2023, a new Paid Sick Leave Rebate program, providing up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per 12-month period for Yukon workers earning less than the average private-sector wage of $33.94 per hour. This includes self-employed Yukoners. Employers with existing sick leave programs can add up to an additional 40 hours of paid sick leave per employee to those programs. The goal of this program is to keep Yukoners healthy, encourage workers to stay home if they are sick and ensure supports are available to lower wage earners across the territory.
- Launching the new Yukon Dental Program in 2023, which provides $1,300 per year in dental benefits to Yukoners without dental coverage, and $600 per benefit year for people who are eligible for Pharmacare and Extended Health Care Benefits.
- Increasing the Yukon Child Benefit for modest and low-income families by $1.5 million in July 2023 and tying the maximum benefit per child to inflation, to ensure a stronger labour market does not penalize families earning higher wages due to inflation.
- Adding an additional $1.5 million to social assistance payments through Budget 2023-24.
- Announcing, in September 2022, top-ups to support Yukoners affected by inflation, including:
- A one-time $150 payment to social assistance recipients and Yukon Seniors Income Supplement recipients, in October 2022;
- A one-time 10 per cent additional payment to Pioneer Utility Grant recipients, in February 2023;
- In April 2023, an additional $100 per social assistance recipient implemented while the rate review is being completed; and
- in April 2023, a 37.5% increase in the monthly payment for Yukon Seniors Income Supplement recipients implemented until March 2024.
- Family and Children’s Services also provided a temporary six-month extension of $500 per month to caregivers of children in out of home care until March 31, 2023, and the Government of Yukon approved a permanent increase to the caregiver rates by ten percent starting August 2023.
The Government of Yukon will continue to work hard to make life more affordable for Yukoners while addressing the climate emergency, looking out for our most vulnerable citizens and adding to the territory’s housing stock. Through Budget 2023-24, the upcoming supplementary estimates, and the tremendous work underway by our talented public service, the Government of Yukon is moving forward on reconciliation; building our clean, green future; growing a strong, resilient economy; and making it so that in the Yukon, everyone has a place to call home.
Premier Ranj Pillai