Yukon is increasing spending on health, education, energy retrofitting and dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in its latest budget.
Capital spending will grow by 27 per cent in the 2022-23 fiscal year, while total revenue is forecast to reach $1.46-billion, an $86-million increase from 2021-22. The government is predicting a surplus of $39.5-million.
Premier Sandy Silver, who is also the territory’s finance minister, said the economy exceeded expectations during the pandemic.
“Yukon’s economy is seeing tremendous growth that truly sets it apart from the rest of Canada,” he told the legislature Thursday.
It was the Liberal government’s first budget since forming a minority government last spring.
The Liberal government has earmarked $546.5-million for the territory’s roads, buildings, bridges and airports.
The government said its economic outlook has improved, with the labour market all but recovered to pre-pandemic levels.
“Yukon is leading the nation as we witness unprecedented growth of our territory’s population and economy,” said Silver.
But the government cautions there is a shortage of workers in the territory.
“The pandemic took a toll on our territory,” said Silver.
The government also warns of a dip in tourism for the next few years as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue to affect revenue.
Silver said improvements in the territory’s mining industry have helped boost revenue.
“Mineral production is expected to increase to more than $1.1-billion this year, a record high,” he said. “Mining remains a significant driver of our territory’s economy.”
Part of the boost in revenue comes from mining tax revenue through corporate income taxes or quartz mining fees and licences.
Yukon Party Leader Currie Dixon said his party was unimpressed by the budget.
“The budget is remarkable in its size,” he said, referring to the amount the government intends to spend. “It’s pretty unremarkable in its contents. The contents in the budget are a laundry list of projects from the last budget or the last campaign.
“This is an extended version of last year’s budget.”
Last year’s budget forecast a deficit of $6.6-million for 2021-22, but the government revised that estimate last October in a fiscal update to $18.2-million.
At the time, it said spending had increased by $72.2-million, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the cost of public health-care measures and financial relief programs.
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