Yukon government plans to turn deficit into surplus by 2021 budget - InfoNews

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Yukon government plans to turn deficit into surplus by 2021 budget

March 01, 2018 - 3:58 PM

WHITEHORSE - The Yukon government is touting strong fiscal management in a budget with a deficit projected at a fraction of what was previously calculated.

Premier and Finance Minister Sandy Silver told the legislature Thursday that the territory's finances "were on an unsustainable path" and forecasted "significant deficits" for the coming years.

But in the $1.47 billion budget the Liberal government tabled, the deficit for the 2018-19 was set at $4.5 million — a marked improvement from the $49 million deficit initially forecasted last year.

This is the Liberal's second budget since being elected in 2016.

The deficit projected for 2019-2020 is also much smaller than forecast last year at $6.9 million instead of $58 million.

Silver said deficits are not expected to be as large as first thought "in part because of the fiscal approach our government is taking to fully account for costs."

Capital projects for the territory of 38,000 people were built "without thought to a long-term strategic approach," and operations and maintenance costs were not fully considered, he said.

In 2020-21, the government is now projecting a very slim, $1.8-million surplus, instead of a predicted $42-million deficit.

The majority of the Yukon's budgeted revenue is coming from the federal government.

Transfers from Ottawa have seen a modest increase from 2017, and now sit at more than $1 billion.

This includes a new $400,000 transfer resulting from the legalization of marijuana, expected to occur late this summer or early fall.

Revenue from a tax on legal pot is to be split with 75 per cent received by the territory and 25 per cent going toward the federal government.

There are no new tax changes introduced in this budget and territorial fees will also remain unchanged.

Carbon pricing revenues are absent from the budget, as the Yukon government waits for more clarity from Ottawa. The tax will not be applied in the territory until Jan. 1, 2019.

The largest spending increases are for health and social services, with investments announced for a continuing care facility, more hospital beds and the expansion to insured health programs.

The budget also commits $42 million for municipal and First Nations community infrastructure projects and another $42 million for housing.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2018
The Canadian Press

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