WHITEHORSE, Feb. 19, 2014 /CNW/ - The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development, today embarked on a five-day tour to learn first-hand about the territories' booming economy, meet with employers and training institutions to learn more about challenges like the skills shortage, highlight Economic Action Plan 2014 and explain and discuss recently announced changes to Employment Insurance (EI) for residents of Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
During his visit to Yukon College, Minister Kenney discussed how governments and employers can work together to create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity in the North. For example, the Ketza River Mine, the MacTung Mine and the Eagle Gold Mine will help boost the economy for years to come. To expand such projects and help businesses grow, Minister Kenney outlined government efforts to help employers find the workers they need and address the skills gap.
The Government of Canada has announced changes to the EI program to ensure it better reflects the northern economy as being among the strongest in Canada. Across Canada, regional unemployment rates determine how much, and for how long, a person receives EI. However, since the 1970s, the unemployment rate used for EI in the territories has been arbitrarily fixed at 25 percent. This outdated policy does not reflect the true state of the economy in the North.
With major resource developments on the horizon, the economic outlook for Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut is very promising, with significant income growth and job creation already realized and expected to continue in the coming years.
According to Statistics Canada, the unemployment rate was 6.3 percent in Yukon in January 2014. The latest unemployment rate estimated for Whitehorse is 5 percent, well below the current administratively set 25 percent unemployment rate. To align the administration of the EI program in Yukon with the rest of Canada, it will be split into two regions: Whitehorse and the rest of the territory. This change reflects the fact that it is easier for northerners to find good jobs in Whitehorse compared to remote areas of Yukon.
Minister Kenney also highlighted measures in Economic Action Plan 2014 that create jobs and opportunities and increase the quality of life for northerners including infrastructure investments, a new fund to improve health care services in the North, a commitment to enhance funding for the Nutrition North program and the Government of Canada's efforts to submit the strongest possible claim to the United Nations to protect Canadian sovereignty in the North.
- At 6.3 percent, Yukon has the third lowest unemployment rate in Canada, and has enjoyed ten successive years of economic growth.
- The economy in Yukon is expected to grow by nearly 6 percent next year, according to the Conference Board of Canada.
- The Government of Canada is advancing an integrated Northern Strategy that will strengthen Canada's sovereignty, protect our environmental heritage, promote economic and social development and improve northern governance.
"Our government's top priorities are creating jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity for all Canadians. The economic outlook for the territories offers a promising future, and economic growth has been forecasted to outpace growth in most other regions in Canada. We are helping equip Canadians with the skills and training to succeed in the northern territories' prosperous job market."
Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism
"Yukon's labour force is well-positioned for continued growth and economic prosperity. Building on our Northern Strategy to promote social and economic development, our government is helping Yukon, and all the territories, achieve their full potential."
Member of Parliament for Yukon
SOURCE: Employment and Social Development Canada
For further information:
Office of the Minister