28 days later is too late

It’s been one month since volunteer ambulance attendants in Watson Lake and Dawson City walked off the job in frustration.

It’s been one month since volunteer ambulance attendants in Watson Lake and Dawson City walked off the job in frustration.

Since then, both communities have been running on skeleton ambulance crews sent in by the government.

And, as Yukon government employees, those crews are taking wages from the territory. They will make between $55,000 and $58,000 in salary annually.

Meanwhile, their volunteer counterparts, who slogged away shackled to their radios 24-7 for years, have still not been afforded the same respect.

That’s insulting.

In Watson Lake, the government ponied up the cash to bring in two trained paramedics from Outside to cover the slack until the dispute is resolved.

It hired another attendant to cover Dawson.

How much has the government spent so far to pay the interim workers?

The News could not reach Health Minister Brad Cathers for comment on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.

Sending the interim crews to the two towns was a stopgap measure.

A month later it has worn thin.

And community members feel like “mushrooms” left in the dark on the government’s plans.

“We’re all in the dark here — they’re treating us like mushrooms,” Watson Lake CAO Rick Harder told the News.

It appears the higher-ups in government are in no hurry to find a solution to the volunteers’ concerns.

Since the walkout, a team of six attendants — chosen to represent volunteers in the territory’s 14 communities — has worked together to come to an agreement.

After weeks of talks, the group submitted a proposal to the government on July 30.

Ten days later, as of Thursday afternoon, the group hadn’t heard any response.

The government put out 21 news releases between July 9 — when the Watson Lake attendants walked off — and August 6.

None of them had anything to do with the ambulance attendant crisis the two towns were facing.

On August 6 — 28 days later — came a release promising the territory would “modernize” its emergency response system.

“The time has come to upgrade the Yukon government’s emergency services to provide a well-coordinated first response to emergencies in our communities,” Premier Dennis Fentie is quoted as saying in the release.

We’d say that time had come long before frustration forced ambulance attendants to walk off the job.

The release also called for more consultation with “First Nations, municipalities, ambulance and firefighting volunteers, and other stakeholders.”

It also said the government would canvass communities to entice new volunteers into service.

“Over the years, Yukon’s volunteers have done an excellent job in providing emergency services on behalf of the Yukon public,” Fentie said.

“It is time to take a more integrated approach that reduces the burden on them.”

That’s good to hear.

Fentie should have said it 28 days ago. (LC)

Just Posted

Teachers’ Association president placed on leave following ‘serious’ allegations

‘I’m going to let the membership decide what it is that they want to do about this’

Air North announces new flight to Victoria

‘We hope the new route helps families connect with families’

Whitehorse council squabbles over Robert Service Campground repairs

‘Is it going to be Disneyland or something?’

Closing arguments underway in Darryl Sheepway murder trial

Defence lawyers began closing submissions Dec. 7

Is the Yukon government reducing its emissions? Nobody knows

‘Before we go out and put out any data, I want to make sure that it’s reliable’

Celebrating 40 years of celebrating Yukon’s history

This year the Yukon Historical and Museums Association marks a major milestone

All about recalls

If your ride is subject to a recalll, take it in right away

Whitehorse tyke hockey program embraces half-ice setup

‘If they’re on half-ice, they get to touch the puck’

Yukon Men’s Basketball League expands in fourth season

‘Come playoff time, guys get a little more intense and the skill level increases’

The very long term view on commodity prices

A Long-Run Version of the Bank of Canada Commodity Price Index is as hot a title as it sounds

Appeal court hears case of Old Crow woman who says sentence unfairly factored in marijuana use

Lena Josie’s lawyer says she was denied discharge on assault because of unrelated marijuana use

Council of Yukon First Nations hosts training for Gladue report writing

CYFN hopes the training will be ongoing help build a reserve of Gladue writers in the Yukon

Imagine that: Yukon’s cannabis debate has been reasonable

Politicians here haven’t said anything blatantly insane, uninformed or stupid. That’s a win

Most Read