Yukon government plans to extend state of emergency

·2 min read

Yukon Community Services Minister John Streicker says the territorial government will likely need to keep extending a state of emergency until a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available.

The current state of emergency is set to expire Dec. 8. Streicker said the government plans to extend for another 90 days. The last extension was in Sepetmber.

The government needs to renew it in order to maintain ministerial orders under the Civil Emergency Measures Act. Those orders give the government the authority to establish border controls and self-isolation requirements.

"I'll keep saying that if you want to have border control, if you want to have isolation requirements, if you want to have enforcement, those things are in place because of the state of emergency," Streicker told reporters Wednesday.

In the legislature, Streicker introduced a motion calling on MLAs to support the extension. That will allow MLAs to debate the measure.

All three parties say they support the state of emergency, saying it's needed for the government to handle the pandemic.

Yukon Party pitches MLA oversight of emergencies

But the Yukon Party says there needs to be more accountability when the government invokes states of emergency and uses the Civil Emergency Measures Act.

"We agree that some of the measures that they have in place are necessary and they are brought into force by the state of emergency. So we certainly don't oppose that," said leader Currie Dixon.

"What we do oppose is the government bringing [the state of emergency] forward outside of the legislature and without the democratic oversight that comes with it."

The Yukon Party has introduced a private member's bill that would give MLAs the power to review regulations and ministerial orders issued under the CEMA. It would also allow for public hearings.

It would not give the Legislative Assembly the power to overturn ministerial orders. Private member's bills rarely become law.

Streicker said the state of emergency will be needed until COVID-19 vaccines are widely available.

"I am hungry for the day when we end the state of emergency," he said. "Like all Yukoners, I don't want us to be in a state of emergency. It's just right now the best way to keep everybody safe."