The devil and the damage done

Auditor general Sheila Fraser's latest probe makes for painful reading. She was examining the operation of Health and Social Services, the territory's largest department.

Auditor general Sheila Fraser’s latest probe makes for painful reading.

She was examining the operation of Health and Social Services, the territory’s largest department. And the mismanagement, operational failures and negligence are too plentiful to delve into here. It is, in a 16-year-old’s parlance, a massive fail.

Which is great news for the Fentie government.

After all, one cockup is a tragedy. A million of ‘em is a statistic.

Fraser’s exhaustive investigation becomes a blur, vague and insubstantial. As compelling as a tangle of yarn.

It’s far more pleasant to don your new jersey with the Pat Quinn and Trevor Linden autographs and replay highlights from Hockey Day in Canada from your personal video recorder. (It was, after all, a terrific accomplishment for the city.)

Most folks aren’t sick. Most of those who are, get help. And Ottawa foots the bill.

So what’s the problem?

The waste is, of course, something to frown upon. But it’s not costing us anything personally. Not yet.

The failure to share information between, say, the Yukon Hospital Corporation and Health and Social Services is crazy, isn’t it? But that’s just government. If it needs fixing, someone will do it. Sometime.

Also, the department doesn’t properly track diabetes, which has troubling implications.

Like what?

Well, it may not be delivering the right programs to the sick. And the programs it is delivering may not be working. There’s no way to know.

But most people don’t have diabetes. And those who do, will deal with it, or live with the consequences.

Alcohol and drug services no longer prepares reports – it’s impossible to gauge a counsellor’s caseload or how many people are attending a government-run program. And that affects me how?

The Yukon Hospital Corporation deals with alcoholics every day, and has information on drug and alcohol abuse. It does not share that information with Health and Social Services. The department has not asked for it.

But the government just announced it is building a new facility at the prison for alcoholics. The facility will cost millions.

It’s funny cabinet would proceed with that plan without gathering relevant information from sources like the hospital, which, you might think, would be affected by the operation of such a drunk tank.

Talking to the hospital might make the plans better. More efficient.

But we’re not paying the shot. Ottawa is. If it bothers someone in the capital, they’ll deal with it.

Really, this type of thing makes one’s head hurt. Truly.

And, frankly, it’s a downer. It prompts feelings of guilt.

And helplessness.

Even if you wanted to do something, what could you do? The problem is simply too big.

Besides, officials have promised to do better.

And they probably will. You can hope so.

Frankly, it’s better to hope the problems will be solved.

Because confronting the problems before us, which are too numerous to recount here, is painful indeed.

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