Executive Director Message
Our longer spring days were highlighted by the announcement that the majority of COVID restrictions have been lifted! While we are far from out of the woods, these announcements provide a bit more certainty for many Yukon businesses who want to get back to normal.
Your YCC Committees have been very active and a summary of their recent activity is included in this newsletter. The YCC Committees are a great way for our members to get involved and contribute to the government hearing from businesses on programs, policies, legislation, and proposals that impact businesses. The YCC Committees include representatives from rural Yukon communities to ensure that our voice is the voice of all Yukon businesses. If you want to get involved, please contact us – we love it when members step up!
We have been meeting on a regular basis with the Premier and several Cabinet members to share the priorities of business to ensure that the voice of business is heard and considered in their deliberations. We have thanked the government for stepping up with relevant and timely programs that give businesses a hand up as they suffer the impacts of COVID. The business support programs they have delivered have led the country and have made a difference. At the same time, we have sat down with government in recent weeks to tell them that considering benefits like paid sick leave, funded in part or in whole by the private sector, are creating a burden on business at the wrong time. Businesses need programs that reduce their cost of doing business moving forward.
The key issues we are tackling over the next few months include:
Addressing the increasing cost of energy that is driving unprecedented increases in fuel prices, food, transportation, and is driving up inflation.
Advocating for a more sensible approach and industry best practice in wholesale liquor and cannabis pricing.
Bringing efficiencies and rigor to the electrical rate environment to mitigate costs that get passed on to ratepayers – like rate hearings that cost millions of dollars. There are more effective approaches being used by others.
Supporting the implementation of the Yukon First Nations Procurement Policy in a manner that mitigates any market disruption, encourages partnership with Yukon First Nation companies and creates employment opportunities for Yukon First Nation citizens.
Moving forward with Yukon Chamber 2025 – in particular how YCC works with its community chamber partners and their members.
Reviewing the governance model, financial plan, and staffing requirements of YCC.
Getting back to community visits!
Recruiting and retaining members.
We continue to be amazed by, and appreciative of, the sacrifices and resiliency of Yukon businesses. In spite of what could have been unsurmountable barriers to keeping doors open, many Yukon businesses have weathered the COVID pandemic. Acknowledging that many business owners are simply exhausted, we believe the support that can be found through the chamber of commerce network and our member businesses is one of the tools that we encourage all of our members to get involved in. If you had a good year, offer to help out – if your business is on the brink of failure – reach out. You have our respect and gratitude.
Denny Kobayashi, Executive Director
Joint Transportation & Infrastructure Committee
Reported by Kells Boland – Kells is the co-chair of the Yukon Chamber of Mines/Yukon Producers Group/YCC Joint Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.
The Skagway Port Access lease with the Borough of Skagway expires next year and the lease will not be renewed. Their focus is cruise ships and not cargo operations. Their plans are to reconfigure the ore dock and demolish the ship loader which immediately impacts Minto Mine.
The committee has been invited to participate at the ministerial level with Minister Pillai and Minister Streicker and the Borough of Skagway to find resolution.
In addition, there are Yukon Tidewater access concerns if Skagway is not available. Yukon will need to look at alternatives. Haines, Alaska has received a 20-million-dollar grant to rebuild their docks and has reached out to the Committee to explore a partnership.
The Committee is exploring electrical energy options that are on the near and far horizons including the recent agreement to purchase power from a micro-hydro project in Atlin. Tying into the BC power grid is gaining recent momentum.
Food, Beverage & Cannabis Committee
Reported by Rich Thompson, Chair
The Committee met with the Department of Economic Development in February and tabled a number of important issues for the FBC sector. Our issues crossed over three departments and we asked Ec Dev to respond to us in a “One Government” context – saving us setting up meetings with two other departments. Theses are the key issues we tabled with the Department:
Trusted Employer Program. Confirmation that the Trusted Employer Program for immigration being debated by the Federal Minister is on the Department’s agenda. We confirmed our industry’s support of the concept and proposed program.
Wholesale Liquor Price Reduction. The 25% price reduction was dropped to about 17%. The 25% was an appropriate discount to enable Yukon licensees to provide fair pricing and is competitive with wholesale pricing from other Canadian jurisdictions. We asked that consideration be given to reinstating the 25% discount and if so, when.
Wholesale Liquor Pricing Policy and Privatization. YLC undertook research exploring wholesale pricing models in other Canadian jurisdictions which highlighted the fact that the YLC Wholesale Pricing Model is flawed and unpredictable in many ways. Will they consider working with industry to develop a best practise Wholesale Liquor Pricing Policy for Yukon licensees? Some informative work was undertaken by YLC in regards to pricing that provided some great insight into best practice from other jurisdictions – we should continue to reference these findings. Further, can we start discussions for an even more robust discussion about changes that may ultimately lead to privatization which may have significant positive impacts for Yukon consumers and restaurant and bar operators.
Cannabis Pricing Policy. The Cannabis pricing policy restricts the ability of private-sector vendors to offer competitive pricing – 51% markup by GY and only allowing 22% margins will not support business operations. The other issue is that this pricing policy enables the black market to undersell the legal market by leaving margins of 75%+ to the black/illegal market. There needs to be consideration of the limited market share and volume thatrural retailers have. This is especially true when considering they are restricted to a scant 22% margin; this is not high enough to cover expenses with low volumes of sales. One of the stated objectives of GY was to displace the black market and ensure safe product. There has been little effort or enforcement to shut down this market and it continues to thrive.
Cannabis E-Commerce. GY has been considering authorizing retail cannabis vendors to use e-commerce for 18 months with no progress being reported to cannabis retailers. This has been on the table for 18+ months with no decision.
Minimum Wage Exemption for Liquor Servers. Exemptions are made in other jurisdictions for liquor servers and students. In Quebec they are categorized as ‘Tipped’ and there is a two-tier minimum wage. The Yukon’s own report on the minimum wage confirms that the majority of minimum-wage earners in the Yukon are students and part-time workers – it is not a poverty-reduction solution. Will the Yukon consider a dual-tier minimum wage for restaurant/liquor servers and students?
In the meeting we made it clear that the highest priority for businesses at this time is to see restrictions lifted and a return to full capacity. Businesses are united in their commitment to ensure that businesses are operating in a safety conscious manner that protects both their customers and their employees. In the words of one of the committee members “Businesses don’t want subsidies; they want to return to operating under normal circumstances and be in a position to turn a profit and contribute to the general wellbeing of the Yukon economy.” We see many jurisdictions worldwide moving to this stance, and time is of the essence. Our committee wants to see the Yukon move as quickly as other jurisdictions to drop restrictions now that it is clear that public health is not under pressure, as they moved to put the restrictions in place when it was legitimate to worry about such impacts.
Other businesses who are not members of the Chamber have also encouraged action on this front and we are hopeful that the government has their ears wide open to these pleas. Recent studies show the majority of Canadians are onside with relaxation of restrictions, and time is of the essence for businesses that have been moved close to the breaking point by restrictions that have been imposed.
We have had a preliminary response from the government and will continue to work on these issues in the coming months. The good news is that many restrictions are off and we can now focus on regulatory matters that will assist rather than hinder businesses’ return to normal.
Reported by Myles Thorpe, Chair
The YCC Energy Committee has been working on a number of important issues specific to Yukon businesses’ ongoing interest in energy production and utilization. We have identified the Yukon Utilities Board as an area of concern as it relates to the business community’s ability to raise issues of concern with rates and policy analysis. We recently had a meeting with Ministers McPhee and Streicker requesting that they invoke sections of the Utilities Act that provide the Minister with the authority to direct the Yukon Utilities Board (YUB) to evaluate policy issues. An area of significant concern to the Committee is the rules YUB has established for conducting rate application hearings. The cost and amount of human resource time required to intervene in the process precluded the YCC Energy Committee attempting to raise issues of concern. The Committee members present at the meeting felt that they were heard and the government is going to take a serious look at how the provisions in the act for providing direction to YUB may be applied. We have also raised a number of other issues that should be looked into. We can provide more detail if requested through the YCC office.
The Committee has engaged with the Energy Branch Director with regard to the development of the Clean Energy Act. We will be engaging with this process as it progresses and will be keeping an eye on any developing issues that may affect Yukon businesses.
We have recently become aware of a significant issue for small retail grocery and retails stores in Yukon communities with regard to the cost of transportation for delivery of consumer goods. The dramatic increase in fuel costs is driving the price of food and consumable goods so high that it could result in citizens seeking alternative sources for goods and services. We will be exploring this issue and may develop a response to government with regard to what needs to be done to ensure these businesses can continue to operate in their respective communities. This work will be ongoing over the next few weeks.
Procurement & Trade Committee
Reported by Eri Boye, Chair
Denny and Eri are actively recruiting Committee members. A meeting was hosted in February. Denny remains very active on the Yukon First Nations Procurement Policy (YFNPP) file and attends Monitoring Review Committee (MRC) meetings, Business Procurement Committee Meetings, the YFNPP sub-working group, and discussions on a Yukon Business Definition. The MRC ‘First Six Months’ report is due to be released in the next six-to-eight weeks; it provides an overview of the objectives and implementation of the YFNPP and Next Steps. YCC will share the link to this report with our members when it is released.
We are working with a member who has experienced challenges with GY making purchases online instead of looking to a local business – the department cited supply/delivery times as the rationale for not shopping locally. We are having some success in getting this addressed and will have more to report next month.
Regulatory Affairs Committee
Reported by Mal Malloch
The Regulatory Affairs committee continues to meet monthly. The Committee is preparing to approach individual regulatory agencies to share information from a survey the Committee conducted of Yukon businesses about their experiences with permits and inspections. Because of the negative impact a poorly-functioning regulatory system can have on the private-sector economy, the Committee decided it would be helpful to engage the economic-development leaders at YG and the City of Whitehorse first. The goal was to obtain their support prior to setting up meetings with individual regulators in those two jurisdictions. Members of the Committee have met with senior economic-development officials in both YG and the City and have been encouraged by the warm welcome and solid support. The Committee is following up with additional meetings with senior officials in YG and at the City and, armed with their support, will soon set up meetings with individual regulators to explore issues and seek common ground on resolving them.
The Committee seeks additional members to bolster their resources. Please see the notice elsewhere in this newsletter.
YCC's 2022 MEMBERSHIP CAMPAIGN HAS BEGUN!
Membership invoices will be issued in the upcoming months. Payment may be made through automatic payment, online or in person.
Office of Employer Advisor
As per the contribution agreement, YWCHSB will be conducting a program evaluation of the Employer Advisor program and has asked YCC to assist.
Mal has resigned and his last day was March 31, 2022. To ensure the Office of Employer Advisor continues to be available to employers, Mal has agreed to provide services on a part-time contract basis, as required, until the position is filled.
Please direct all inquires to the YCC office at (867) 667-2000.
Local Gift Card
WE NOW HAVE THE EQUIPMENT AND ARE SET UP TO LOAD CARDS HERE IN THE OFFICE.
This program has been incredibly well received! We sold $116,000 in gift cards before Christmas. Sales have continued into the spring and we will soon reach $150,000 in sales! Look for social media advertising in April including the launch of Shop Local videos. Thanks to all Yukoners for their support and all of the businesses that signed up to accept the Local Gift Card.
Would you like to sign on to accept the Local Gift Card at your business? Visit: https://zfrmz.com/QkN0rzUwPAXr5YySXciz
Great Yukon Summer Freeze Rebates
Yukon applicants receive a 25% rebate for enjoying what the Yukon has to offer by approved travel packages.
The programs ended on March 31, 2022 and the deadline to submit rebate claims is April 15, 2022.
The program has not been as well received as the Great Yukon Summer Rebate Program but has driven over $110,000 in sales of Yukon winter experiences.
We have been advised that the program will not continue past March 31, 2022.
Datapath Research is in market with a second-wave survey of Yukoners to determine the impact of the Buy Yukon program. The report will be presented to the Buy Yukon Management Committee and the Board in early May. We have applied to CanNor for funding to carry on the Buy Yukon program for the next two years. We expect to hear from them on our funding application in the next couple of months. Stay tuned…
The campaign wrapped up at the end of March but components like the Local Gift Card and digital marketing will carry on.
Yukon Chamber 2025
The objective of the Yukon Chamber 2025 project is to reenergize and reengineer YCC to address the current chamber environment, in particular how YCC works with our community chamber partners and businesses across the Yukon.
Another key component will be the 'digitization' of our association-management platform, processes, and communications. (Financial operations are pretty much already there thanks to work by our Treasurer Philip Fitzgerald)
Committee Members: Craig Hougen, Chair; Rich Thompson Vice-Chair; and Denny Kobayashi.
Executive Director – Ongoing – we continue to accept applications. Denny’s contract has been extended for another six months or until a new ED is recruited.
Employer Advisor – Job description is being revised in consultation with YWCHSB. Once that is complete, recruitment will begin.
Office Manager – This position is currently vacant. Recruitment will begin soon.
Regulatory Affairs Committee Looking for New Members
In late 2020, YCC established a new committee. The Committee endeavors to provide coordinated strategic advice, information, industry perspectives, and policy position recommendations to the Chamber Board and Executive as outlined in the terms of reference.
The purpose of the Committee includes but is not limited to the following:
Identify and review laws, acts, regulations and policies related to various industries;
Identify law, regulation and policy issues, impediments, needs, gaps, and opportunities as they relate to the respective application/inspection activities across the board;
Identify barriers to promoting and ensuring a Yukon-wide, healthy environment for businesses to develop, grow, and diversify, e.g., identify long-term needs, issues, and potential solutions as related to content of the rules and regulations, inspections, and enforcement without adversely compromising the intent of the regulations, i.e., safe and efficient operations;
Develop briefing notes, letters, surveys, reports, and position papers to address identified priorities;
Develop consensus on issues affecting regulation of industries and consult with governments on these issues.
The committee meets monthly by Zoom for about an hour. Last year the committee surveyed Yukon businesses to get a sense of what challenges they have with permits, inspections, and other regulatory matters. That provided important information about the current state of affairs regarding regulatory matters.
Recently, members of the committee have had very productive meetings with senior officials in the Yukon government and the City of Whitehorse. Plans are developing for subsequent meetings with both of these governments.
We currently seek new members who are passionate about building the Yukon’s private-sector economy while respecting the need for reasonable rules and regulations, applied fairly and consistently. If you would like to serve on this committee, let us know a little about you and how you think you could contribute. Please get in touch with us at email@example.com.
All submissions from interested parties will be reviewed by the committee who will select the new members to be recommended to the Executive of the YCC Board of Directors for approval.
NEW BUSINESS DIRECTORY – BIZZZ.CA: PAID MEMBERS – AN ADDITIONAL BENEFIT - A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE NATURE OF YOUR BUSINESS ALONG WITH YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION. ASSOCIATE MEMBERS – CONTACT INFORMATION LISTED. LOOK FOR MORE INFORMATION – VISIT: WWW.BIZZZ.CA
WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY!
LOOK FOR AN IN-PERSON BUSINESS AFTER HOURS IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE WHITEHORSE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE – COMING SOON!