Community Services Minister John Streicker says the government will invest up to $30 million per year, than says it will be $30 million annually. A mandate letter from EMR says $30 million yearly.
The Yukon Liberals are starting to show how “old” they are, so young into their first mandate in government. Cabinet is either misremembering what they’ve committed to on investments into energy retrofits, or moving the “goal posts” to suit that day’s narrative. In October 2016, during the election campaign and contained in their platform, the Liberals promised they would allocate “up to $30M per year to implement an energy retrofit program for residential, government, and commercial buildings, working with federal agencies to access funding sources.” During that same press conference, candidate John Streicker stated it would be $30 million a year, helping to build up the trades in that sector.
In the Liberals first two budgets since taking office in December 2016, they have come nowhere near that target amount, peaking in budget two 2018-19 at $11.7 million. Yet in a January 2017 mandate letter issued by Energy, Mines and Resources Minister Ranj Pillai he committed the government to “allocating $30 million annually for an energy retrofit program for residential, commercial and government buildings.”
Now fast forward to March 5, 2018, where the New Democrats are asking where the money is. Kate White (Takhini-Kopper King) says the government is starting to lose credibility on this file. “To top it off, they are once again breaking their promise to invest $30 a year in new money for energy retrofits. The fact that this government tries to spin the decade-old appliance rebate program as proof of their commitment to energy retrofitting is an embarrassment. It highlights how weak their commitment to fighting climate change really is.” White stresses the government is showing a lack of leadership, pointing to the demand of fossil fuels Yukoners need for energy consumption. “From solar panels in Old Crow and Mount Lorne to the wind power project of the Kluane First Nation, we know that Yukon has potential when it comes to renewable energy, and these projects all have one thing in common. That is that they came from the communities and eventually, in some cases — after many delays and pressure — the government came on board. This is what I mean when I say this government shows no leadership. This is no proactive government initiative to invest in renewable energy in this budget, yet the need is there. Just this past December, Yukon Energy had to burn fossil fuels every single day to meet Yukoners’ basic energy needs. While the rest of the north is innovating to decrease their dependence on fossil fuels, Yukon seems to be stuck in a rut.”
Community Services Minister John Streicker (Mount Lorne Southern Lakes) attempted to clarify the government’s committed to energy retrofits. “We will be investing more money. Our platform commitment is to invest up to $30 million over the time of our tenure here. I looked backed at the Third Party’s platform and I noted that they said they would invest $10 million in renewable energy — so we’re ahead at $11.7 million.” “By the way, our platform said that we would invest $30 million every year but we would build up to it over our term.”
Streicker stated. Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn entered the debate to support Streicker’s position. “Our commitment was clear during the campaign that we would allocate up to $30 million per year for energy retrofits by working with federal agencies to access funding. We are delivering on our commitment to fund energy retrofits and will be announcing more funding in the coming months as we ramp up toward $30 million.”
White fired back suggesting if the government were serious about renewable energy it would reflect in their Thursday budget. “I appreciate that the minister says renewable energy is a priority, but he would be a lot more credible if the budget his government tabled last week didn’t directly contradict him. This government’s refusal to invest in renewable energy and its budget show that climate change is, at best, an afterthought.” Following Question Period Monday, Streicker again tried to clarify the retrofitting position. “We will be investing $30 million a year. We won't be starting at $30 million a year. We're going to ramp up to $30 million a year. It will be $30 million and we will be ramping up to it.” “What we said was we wouldn't start at $30 million, it would build to $30 million a year.”
With differing opinions from two Cabinet Ministers the government’s commitment to energy retrofits is clear as mud.
(Dan Jones Whitehorse March 5, 2018)