Letter to the Editor

Cities should belong to people, not cars Re Money and the bus-riding vote (the News, June 16): Your June 16th editorial on the need for a good…

Cities should belong to people, not cars

Re Money and the bus-riding vote (the News, June 16):

Your June 16th editorial on the need for a good transit system has got me thinking.

I remember once visiting a city about the same size as Whitehorse, which had no local transit system. It was Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

But there was no problem. That city is more compact in area as contrasted with Whitehorse, which is sprawled all over the place.

Urban sprawl is a common problem in many cities and towns. It happens largely because developments are especially planned for the convenience of people who drive cars.

A good location is usually defined as one with lots of parking spaces, even if people have to travel farther from home.

Some planners and developers have a fixed idea in their minds so that the only kind of progress they can imagine means wider roads, more parking spaces and more cars. They should guess again.

Making things easier for more cars only increases the need for more cars and more driving while making things worse for people who don’t drive.

It is stupid to have to push a button to get a walk signal in the downtown area. Even when the light is in your favour you may have to jump for your life to avoid getting hit by motorists who run red lights and don’t watch where they are going.

The corner of Second Avenue and Lowe Street is especially bad for that sort of thing and it has been that way for years.

On the plus side, it really is possible to get along just fine without a vehicle. I haven’t driven in years and I don’t even have my licence anymore.

Most of what I usually need is available within walking distance. That’s the way it should be.

Cities and towns were originally invented to reduce the need for transportation.

Imagine that.

Stewart Jamieson


Got a problem, call an editor

Re Got a problem, call a nurse, (the News, June 18):

It is unfortunate that neither Yukon News editor Richard Mostyn nor any of his staff attended the news conference announcing the launch of the 811 Yukon HealthLine.

Yukon News staff appear to have been at a disadvantage by not being present to hear the facts, so I would like to take this opportunity to provide them here.

By partnering with HealthLine Services of British Columbia on the new 811 Yukon HealthLine, we are able to provide a proven, quality health service to all Yukon residents at a cost much lower than if we were to attempt to provide the service ourselves.

Mostyn speculated in his June 18th editorial that Yukon residents would be better served if we were to “just assign a local nurse” to provide the HealthLine service.

He fails to recognize the challenges, staffing needs and costs required to run a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week call centre. 

If Yukon were to establish its own call centre, the operating costs would be much higher.

To access the BC call centre, we are paying $100,000 for the first year, and 82 cents per minute in future years.

The average call is 12 minutes, and with 4,000 calls a year predicted, annual cost is expected to be roughly $40,000.

In addition, by utilizing the BC 811 call centre, translation into 130 languages is available. 

BC is already a very strong partner in health-care delivery to Yukon citizens.

Yukoners travel to BC for specialist appointments and care we cannot provide here.

We have a similar relationship with Alberta, and have contracted with various Alberta health services to provide additional services to Yukon residents that we, with our small population, do not have the resources to provide.

Partnering with BC to create the 811 Yukon HealthLine provides an excellent new service to Yukon residents, in a financially responsible way.

Brad Cathers, Minister of Health and Social Services

Editorial misses mark

Re Health care by the numbers (the News, May 26):

In your May 26 editorial, your attempt to provide some insightful comments on health-care demonstrates some inaccuracies.

You are correct in stating that credit card companies can track where a purchase was made, and so on.

However, to suggest that the same approach could simply overlay the health-care system is without merit.

As you may or may not know, the prima facie areas of interest in health-care are health human resources and electronic health/medical records.

With respect to the former, until such time that the federal government establishes a national education strategy, health-care will continue to struggle with the recruitment and retention of qualified professionals.

In the case of electronic health records, much advancement has taken place across Canada including the Yukon.

However, given the complexity (and the relative uniqueness of a myriad of geographical regions and healthcare operations) it will come as no surprise that such an integrative process will take time to implement.

To suggest that something needs to be done is incorrect. Something is being done!

In terms of your comments about how hard it is for a hospital to draft a budget, I find such a statement somewhat amusing. 

Putting together a hospital budget is a relatively straightforward process and probably not much more complicated than what a small private company would encounter.

One simply looks at expenses, compares this to previous activity and then makes a determination as to the actual budgeted amount.

Activity is tracked and resultant variances are monitored with corrective action taking place.

Finally, in terms of your comments about lack of hospital data for budgeting purposes, I would again counter that this is not the case.

Each and every patient that is admitted to hospital is categorized accordingly with such information readily available.

Utilization data, patient acuity, financial trend analysis, population demographic projections and a multitude of other data sources should be more than sufficient to assist with the budgeting process.

You may find the following link of interest (www.cihi.ca).

Thank you for the opportunity to provide some editorial clarity.

Michael Aeberhardt

Via e-mail