We will be posting responses from the parties as we receive them....have a look!
November 1, 2016
Dear Yukon Status of Women,
Thank you for your inspiring letter raising issues of critical importance to Yukon women. You have very cogent questions, based on your insightful and grounded understanding ofthe circumstances of Yukon women.
Our Yukon New Democratic team shares your vision and objectives. We have been addressing so many of these matters in the Yukon Legislature in hopes of moving things forward. Unfortunately, through most of the last 15 years of successive Yukon Party governments, there has been little real progress. We believe that our Yukon New Democratic team offers the better choice for real change. Consider our full platform @ www.yukonndp.ca.
To your specific questions,
Access to childcare is essential to ensure women can return to the workforce and develop their careers after they have children. The most recent statistics show that there are only spaces for 29.6% of the children aged 0-12 years available in Yukon, and that monthly median daycare rates for infants is $739 and $649 for preschoolers, per child. Even when families qualify for daycare subsidies, the largest available subsidy falls short of these costs. What will your government do to increase availability of quality, affordable childcare that works for Yukon families?
Under a Yukon New Democratic government, following extensive community consultations, Yukon’s first comprehensive child care strategy was implemented, leading the country. Since then, it is disheartening how things have declined.
Yukon New Democrats will act on the overwhelming evidence that shows universal childcare helps families, supports the economy and reduces both income and gender inequality and will pay off for future generations. Investments in early childhood education upfront improves futures, though not everything requires new resources as leadership and better coordination can do a better job. Under a Yukon Party government the Auditor General has spoken repeatedly to the silos within and between Yukon Government departments. Early childhood development programs and services can do so much better.
As part of our platform commitments to action, your Yukon New Democratic team will:
- create a ministerial task force including all relevant stakeholders within our first year in office to review child care needs and challenges, existing programs and levels of funding to develop implementable recommendations for a made-in-Yukon solution to make child care universal, affordable and accessible.
Recommendations will be phased in with Government of Canada support and include:
- accreditation of child care workers
- improving compensation of qualified and accredited child care workers
- maintaining and increasing child care spaces to meet requirements
- operator grants to sustain child care operations and stabilize or reduce parent fees
- other measures to make child care affordable for Yukon families
- addressing the unique challenges faced in rural communities, and
- facility related requirements for safe, quality child care services.
- work with the Government of Canada’s new National Early Learning and Child Care Framework and Social Infrastructure Fund to reflect the needs of Yukon families and northern communities.
At the same time, we all know that a lot of resources are being invested in early childhood development, including child care, through a number of Yukon Government departments, hence there are opportunities to ensure efforts and resources are more effective and eliminate gaps and overlaps. A lot of the money is already there, it just needs better focus to achieve the objectives and results we share.
We will support continued implementation of “On the Path Together: A Wellness Plan for Yukon’s Children and Families” for healthy child development beginning at birth and onword. And ensure there are concrete steps ahead along with public accountability reporting.
We also commits to cut costs to families by 25% and deliver better and more services within their first mandate. The Yukon NDP plan will save a Yukon family over $2000 per family per child.
Violence against women
Yukon continues to have violence against women rates that are three times the national average. This is a crisis that needs to be addressed. How will your government take a leadership role in addressing this pervasive issue in a comprehensive way and what resources will you commit?
Family violence remains a pressing concern. This is unacceptable. Yukon New Democrats don’t have all of the answers, but in the past we did substantive research, engaging people and organizations to develop ideas and work collectively on family violence strategies, services and interventions. That led to a ground-breaking family violence strategy.
Under three terms of Yukon Party government there has not been sufficient support and leadership.
Many of our Yukon New Democratic team come from working in education, health and social services. We get it.
It will be a challenge to recover from 15 years of Yukon Party government inaction, but we will do the best we can. Change may not be feasible overnight, but if you’re working with equally committed people, you/we know substantive progress is possible.
Sexual assault centres
Yukon does not have a designated sexual assault centre, while every other province does. Given our high rate of sexual assault, one in every four women in the Yukon, the community has been calling for the creation of a sexual assault crisis centre is this a priority for you and how and when do you plan to address this?
Yukon New Democrats understand the need and the imperative. However, we need to collectively discuss the options to figure out the best way to proceed.
The cost of setting up a stand alone sexual assault crisis centre would be significant, and not necessarily the best way of meeting needs. If a centre were set up, it would no doubt be in Whitehorse, and have difficulty meeting the needs of rural women, girls and boys.
A better approach might be to continue to embed a trauma informed approach into existing medical, health, social services, and justice approach and resource an existing NGO to develop the expertise, play a lead role in coordinating services, training, etc. across sectors. We could dedicate resources on a model that builds on existing services, uses technology and addresses a decentralized territory serving clients/victims where they are at physically, emotionally, culturally.
Our platform also commits to support mental health initiatives in a big way.
Yukon New Democrats celebrate Anne Williams’ legacy. She was a strong advocate and worked tirelessly across sectors to build relationships and improve sexual assault medical assessments. This same approach could be applied to other aspects of better meeting the needs of sexual assault victims.
As you know, the late Dr. Anne Williams is recognized for her commitment to improving responses for survivors of sexualized violence and young victims or witnesses of crime. Williams was a public advocate for dignity and choice during medical examinations for victims of sexualized violence. She was instrumental in organizing sexual assault nurse examiner training in Yukon.
Yukon women’s groups have been operating much-needed programming on temporary or project-based funding for decades. Staff of these programs must spend tie that could have spent delivering programming writing reports or funding applications, and cannot count on stability of employment. If your government is elected, will you commit to increasing that funding in pace with inflation, so that the staff may earn and living wage, have job security and provide consistency to their vulnerable clients?
We recognize these realities. They are shared across the non-profit sector including arts, culture and heritage, recreation, fitness and sport, health and social services and more.
For effective innovative programs and services that meet needs in ways that no other agency or government could, Yukon non-profits and community-based organizations step up to the plate. Yukon New Democrats believe the non-profit sector provides an essential and important part of the glue that helps our Yukon to progress.
We are committed to doing what we can. There are various levers that can be put to work to strengthen the Yukon women’s and non-profit sector.
“Affordable housing” has been classed as anything that is below or at the median rent in Whitehorse. With our current lack of affordable housing, median rent is $900 per moth. This is not “affordable” for the most vulnerable in our population, many of whom are women and children. 73% of lone parent mothers living below the low income cutoff. Women are forced to endure abusive relationships or leave with no assurance of a stable roof over their children’s heads. Those in the rural communities outside of Whitehorse have even fewer choices. What will our government do to ensure that these most vulnerable among us have safe, secure housing that they can count on?
Our platform includes commitments to healthy people, healthy communities addressing community well-being, poverty reduction, reconciliation, equality and social justice.
Over the past five years, Yukon New Democratic MLAs have heard directly from Yukoners about what is working well, what could be improved, and what is missing. We believe fundamental changes are needed to services and programs in order to provide Yukoners with more dignity, opportunity and options, and that they have the supports they need, when they need them, wherever they may live in the territory. Our goal is to create an inclusive society where all Yukoners can participate in meaningful community work and life to build a stronger and better Yukon.
Poverty is consistently linked to poor health, lower literacy, poor school performance for children, more crime, greater public health care costs, increased policing costs, lost productivity and foregone economic opportunities – in short, poverty costs our economy millions. The things that have the greatest influence on our health – including early childhood development, healthy families, housing, nutrition, education, employment, income and reconciliation – need to be addressed.
Affordable housing is an ongoing concern for many Yukoners, including in the communities. People who are securely housed are better able to address other issues in their lives as well as participate more fully in society. This is hurting our economy too as employers cannot recruit and retain the staff necessary to run their businesses.
Among our platform commitments, Yukon New Democrats will work to
- expand the supply of affordable rental, social and staff housing working with the Government of Canada, Yukon communities, Yukon First Nation governments, local landlords and industry
- work with communities to provide the option for, and to provide access to, or develop land for, tiny houses
- commit to ending homelessness through a “Housing First” approach to homelessness and housing insecurity
- develop a home warranty program so that new home purchasers, and home owners who have had renovations, have more protection for addressing building deficiencies
- recognize the differences between mobile home owners and renters and protect mobile home owners by putting a cap on pad rental increases and ensure all renters have security of tenure by removing evictions without cause.
A note of caution. As a territory, we will need to set priorities to make the important decisions about available resources. The needs are so great in so many areas. For various reasons supported by evidence, we do not have full confidence in the actual health and management of Yukon’s financial affairs under successive Yukon Party governments.