yeah somethings definitely broke

A month after tabling its first $1-billion budget, the Yukon Party government has issued a survey on health care that suggests the system is nearly broke. It is a beautifully ambiguous statement, both true and false at the same time.

A month after tabling its first $1-billion budget, the Yukon Party government has issued a survey on health care that suggests the system is nearly broke.

It is a beautifully ambiguous statement, both true and false at the same time.

The system is, definitely, broke.

The health survey is a trial balloon. It suggests residents should prepare to whip out their wallets. Health services in the territory are too expensive. So expect treatments to diminish even as costs rise.

But perhaps there are other things the government could try first. Things that would save the system money in the long term.

Something groundbreaking, like attacking the root causes of poor health.

There are plenty of targets. Today, we’re going to suggest homelessness.

It is still a pervasive problem in Whitehorse, according to a recent poll conducted by the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition.

The coalition distributed a survey to a wide net of social groups around the city. They included the Salvation Army Thrift Shop, the Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre, Skookum Jim’s Friendship Centre, Yukon College Student Services, The Salvation Army, the Youth of Today Society and 12 others.

Over the course of one day, these agencies asked people to fill out the simple survey to get a snapshot of the need for housing in the community.

It asked three questions.

What is/was your housing situation during the week of January 26th to February 1, 2009?

Would you describe your housing situation as stable?

Where do you stay?

Over the course of that one day, 257 people took the time to answer the questions.

The results were startling.

Half did not have a stable place to live. And 61 people felt threatened every time they lay down to sleep.

Think about that for a minute. Consider what it would be like if, every time you lay down to sleep, you feared for your safety.

Another 61 had no place to cook a decent meal.

Seventy-one of the respondents reported inadequate housing—they couch-surfed, slept with friends in a hotel, lived in vehicles, tents or a shelter.

And 101 of the respondents said they couldn’t afford their current accommodation.

Half the respondents were men.

The coalition knew the poll wasn’t scientific, but it does suggest there is a profound need for housing in the city.

And the lack of such housing has a dramatic impact on health.

It’s hard to eat healthy foods if you lack a kitchen, or you’re blowing your food money to cover rent.

It’s hard to fight a substance abuse problem if you’re forced to bunk with your drunken buddies.

It’s easy to get exhausted and sick if you’re sleeping with one eye open fearing a rape or assault while you rest.

It all has an impact on the cost of our health and social service system.

In the Yukon, with a $1-billion budget, the system isn’t broke.

But, given the coalition’s survey, it is.

The system fixes people alright, but it doesn’t do a particularly good job of heading off problems before they wind up in hospital.

If you are committed to cutting health costs, there are plenty of places you can target to reduce the load on the system. Housing is but one.

It just takes a commitment to the people most in need.

Unfortunately, the people most in need are often not politically active.

They are too busy trying to survive. (Richard Mostyn)

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Team Yukon skip Laura Eby, left, directs her team as Team Northern Ontario skip Krysta Burns looks on at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary on Feb. 22. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Team Yukon reports positive experience at Scotties

Team Yukon played their final game at the national championship in Calgary on Thursday afternoon

A sign indicating a drop-off area behind Selkirk Elementary school in Whitehorse on Feb. 25. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Parking lot proposal for Selkirk Elementary criticized

Parents and school council are raising concerns about green space and traffic woes


Wyatt’s World for Feb. 26, 2021

Josi Leideritz, the executive director for the Yukon Quest International Association (Canada), poses for a photo in Whitehorse on Oct.1, 2020. The Quest announced plans for its 2022 race to start in Fairbanks on Feb. 5. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
2022 Quest planning gets underway

Race would begin Feb. 5 in Fairbanks

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read