NDP caucus completes community tour

Drug and alcohol issues were among the top concerns of residents of Yukon communities during a recent series of meetings hosted by NDP caucus members.

Drug and alcohol issues were among the top concerns of residents of Yukon communities during a recent series of meetings hosted by NDP caucus members.

“We heard time and again that there’s a real concern about the movement of cocaine into communities,” said NDP Leader Liz Hanson in an interview Monday morning.

Opposition MLAs hosted meetings in 17 communities across the territory in February and March as part of an annual tour.

While there has been a major push by RCMP over the past few weeks to address organized drug crime in Whitehorse, the communities are feeling left out, said Hanson.

“There were an awful lot of concerns about the Whitehorse-centric focus of the Yukon Party.”

Lack of drug and alcohol treatment and aftercare in the communities is the flip-side of the same coin, she said.

The government built acute care hospitals in Dawson and Watson Lake before completing a needs assessment. When the needs assessment was completed – after the government had its wrist slapped by the auditor general – it found an urgent need for more alcohol and drug services in those towns.

The same pattern is repeating with the planned 300-bed continuing care facility in Whistle Bend, said Hanson.

She heard from community residents, “’I’m not going there, and how can they tell us that we have to go there for care?’” she said.

“I think the government’s lack of consultation on this has raised more fears than is healthy or necessary.”

Eroded trust of the government was another theme expressed at the meetings, said Hanson.

“We heard that being expressed on issues as diverse as the Peel watershed … to the ongoing challenges around legislation that many people are really worried about, such as the changes to the environmental assessment legislation.”

Visiting the communities provides the NDP a way of ground-truthing the government’s claims in the legislative assembly, said Hanson.

“It’s a way of being able to fact check what is blithely asserted by the Yukon Party when it says everything is fine, and all steam ahead.”

The NDP plans to host public meetings in Whitehorse over the coming months, said Hanson.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at jronson@yukon-news.com

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