Campaign trail notes: Here's what Yukon's political parties had to say March 18

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The Yukon coat of arms attached to the Yukon legislative building in Whitehorse pictured on Nov. 13, 2020. (Steve Silva/CBC - image credit)
The Yukon coat of arms attached to the Yukon legislative building in Whitehorse pictured on Nov. 13, 2020. (Steve Silva/CBC - image credit)

All three major parties had policy announcements Thursday ahead of the Yukon territorial election on April 12. Here's a roundup of those promises:

Liberals

The Liberals spent Thursday talking up their plans to expand public safety programs from Whitehorse into the communities. They promised to make the Sexualized Assault Response Team (SART), which offers victims access to support workers and on-call doctors, available in communities. It was launched last March but is currently only available in Whitehorse.

"We have done an internal review over the first year and made some tweaks to it and improvements and now is the time to expand into the rest of our Yukon rural communities," said Jeanie McLean, the Liberal candidate in Mountainview.

The Liberals also say they'll work with local leaders to introduce community safety programs similar to ones that exist in the Kwanlin Dün and Selkirk First Nations. Details were scarce, but the Liberals say such programs could include better environmental design and measures to prevent crime.

They also promised to expand rural EMS and provide supportive housing to women involved in the justice system.

Yukon Party

Yukon Party MLAs took frequent aim at the Liberals on education issues in the Legislative Assembly last fall. On Thursday, the Yukon Party announced its education platform.

They set a goal of an 80 per cent graduation rate for First Nations students within 10 years. In 2015, the graduation rate was 57 per cent. To do that, the Yukon Party would sign agreements with First Nation governments, start work on an Indigenous academy and support Indigenous languages.

"What we've seen in other jurisdictions is the idea of Indigenous academy working very effectively at both reducing dropout rates amongst Indigenous students and increasing graduation rates," said Leader Currie Dixon.

The Yukon Party also promises an "education recovery plan" that would offer help to students who are struggling because of pandemic-related disruption of classes. It would also offer financial help to students who lost scholarships due to the pandemic and expand experiential learning programs such as the music, arts and drama (MAD) program.

NDP

Flanked by fellow candidates in a vacant lot owned by the Yukon government, Leader Kate White unveiled a proposal to tackle some of the territory's chronic housing problems.

She said an NDP government would limit rent increases, build 250 rental units for Yukon Housing Corporation clients, and explore the creation of a housing authority model that would offer more affordable homes for sale.

"They're always capped at that affordable price" under a housing authority, White said. "So even if someone owns a house that is within that model, let's say, for 15 years and they sell it, they're not going to make $200,000 profit on top of what they paid for it, because the sale price will be controlled by the authority."

White said an NDP government would explore ways to limit rent increases, likely tying increases to inflation, while allowing landlords to collect more when they have to fund renovations or repairs.

The package of policies would also offer more help for unhoused people and expand rights for mobile home tenants.