the good deputy

Last week, Premier Dennis Fentie appointed Stuart Whitley assistant deputy minister of Health. It’s a good hire.

Last week, Premier Dennis Fentie appointed Stuart Whitley assistant deputy minister of Health.

It’s a good hire.

Whitley was deputy minister of Justice through successive Yukon governments of the ‘90s.

The accomplished civil servant was widely respected.

Many were surprised when then-premier Pat Duncan summarily dismissed him. Non-disclosure agreements prevented the reasons for coming to light.

Those who knew Whitley considered the dismissal flimsy.

Now, Whitley has been lured back to the Yukon to run the troubled Health and Social Services department.

Whitley has his work cut out for him.

There are profound problems in the ambulance service, both in Whitehorse and in the communities, where two crews have stepped off the job.

There are well-documented problems at the hospital.

The Yukon has to step up its recruitment of nurses and doctors.

There are problems at children’s receiving homes.

There’s a badly needed Children’s Act Review that has gone dormant.

The Thomson Centre remains closed, and there’s a growing shortage of care for the elderly and infirm, many of whom are taking up beds in the hospital.

The list goes on and on.

Many question whether Minister Brad Cathers is up to the task of managing the crisis-plagued department.

In appointing the experienced and respected Whitley, Fentie is clearly propping up his rookie minister.

It’s a smart move.

Time will tell whether it will be enough. (RM)

n YUKON OBSERVER

The callous would

call it Darwinism

People who don’t wear bicycle helmets are idiots.

I speak from experience.

While biking, I’ve injured my noggin several times (yeah, I’m sure this answers many of your questions).

It’s nice having the air whipping through your locks, though it would be a lot less dramatic these days.

And it’s cooler — we’re speaking both fashion and temperature here.

But that joy evaporates when you’re sitting in a strange truck with the driver telling you, conversationally, “I nearly ran over your head,” while you’re struggling to remember who you are and where you live.

It’s worse to face those same questions while you’re drooling spit and blood as you haul the twisted frame of your bike out of a busy intersection.

Yeah, I’m a slow learner. But I now wear a helmet.

As bad as those experiences were, it’s worse when your child’s on the receiving end.

My youngest son rang his bells this weekend.

He arrived at the house muttering about how he hurt all over.

He was very confused.

He couldn’t remember where he’d been 10 minutes earlier. He couldn’t remember what he’d been up to all afternoon.

It was frightening, for him and us.

“Am I going to be like this forever, Mum?” he said. “Have I got amnesia?

“What’s going on?”

He’d been coming home alone from a buddy’s place, a seven-minute ride.

The accident happened somewhere in between.

He can’t remember where.

After the accident, somehow he pulled himself together and rode home.

His shoulder was badly bruised and rubbed raw. His side was badly scraped. His ear was bleeding. His chest hurt.

He was wearing a helmet.

It was cracked. There was gravel embedded in the foam.

It’s hard to imagine what would have happened if he’d not been wearing the thing.

There’s little doubt it would have been worse. Far worse.

Saturday night was spent at Whitehorse General.

It was frantically busy. There was no room at emergency and we were placed in day surgery (why the previous Yukon Party government built a new hospital smaller than the old one remains puzzling).

Nevertheless the care was prompt and compassionate.

The first question from the doctor: “Was he wearing a helmet?”

I presented it.

“Good,” he said, examining the impact damage and gravel.

My son’s going to be fine.

His memory of his afternoon returned, though he still can’t remember the accident or how it happened.

Returning home from the hospital, I saw three kids, around 13 years old, leaping off dirt mounds on Falcon Drive.

None of them were wearing helmets.

Whitehorse has a helmet bylaw. I was going to remind them of that fact.

Unfortunately, they pedaled off down a dirt path before I could get to them.

I worry about them.

I wonder about their parents.

Adults who refuse to wear helmets are Darwin award nominees.

But there’s no excuse when kids are lidless.

That’s a simple failure in parenting. (RM)