Re Health Care Could Cost You, the April 15 Yukon News:
I would like to express some concerns about health care in the Yukon as well as the survey that we received in the mail.
It concerns and angers me the Yukon government feels it cannot afford to spend more on health care, and yet, according to the “Highlights of the 2009-2010 Budget Initiatives,” it can afford to spend “$1.8 million dollars for the Yukon Mining Incentive Program.”
Where will those workers be if health-care services are either cut or made so expensive they become unaffordable?
How can the Yukon government not afford to spend money on health care, when they can afford the following?
Â¥ “$500,000 for additional funding for Overseas Tourism Marketing and a further $100,000 to host more meetings and conventions in the Yukon.”
Â¥ “$2.632 million to participate in the 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Game.”
Are there really that many athletes going from the Yukon?
Â¥ “$3.4 million dollars for Whitehorse Waterfront development and $735,000 for the Carcross Waterfront.”
Â¥ $14 million for the Mobile Communications System, including cellphone expansion to Ibex Valley and Lake Laberge.”
Since when do Tourism and meetings, sporting events, another library or arts centre, or even cellphone communication become more important than the health of Yukoners?
I could go on.
I agree with Beatrice Ainstey, a Whitehorse resident, when she said (commenting on the survey that showed up in her mailbox), “It’s unethical and irresponsible to treat such a serious issue this way. It doesn’t give you enough time to think about it.”
I am particularly concerned about the proposal the survey makes to introduce a user fee for “nonemergency travel for medical treatment.”
Although it mentions “None of the other provinces have this kind of program,” I agree with Julianna Scramstad, Victoria Faulkner Woman’s Centre program co-ordinator, who said, “But the provinces don’t need this type of program Ã‰ it’s different in the North. We don’t have the same facilities.”
I was diagnosed with cancer two years ago. Yukon Health paid for my medical travel to Vancouver to have an MRI done and see an orthopedic surgeon whose specialty is oncology.
I was also scheduled to see a plastic surgeon.
When the diagnosis was confirmed, Yukon Health paid for my travel to Vancouver to have the necessary surgery completed. There are no orthopedic surgeons in the Yukon, and I was, therefore, required to travel Outside to have this procedure done.
Although I have been cancer free since, I am required to have an X-ray and consultation with my orthopedic surgeon in Vancouver every six months, as there is still a one per cent chance that, if there are any cancer cells left, they could still spread to major organs.
Fortunately, Yukon Health not only pays for my travel to Vancouver, but provides me with a subsidy for $75 per day for every day that I have an appointment, starting on the second day. This $75 barely pays for my accommodations and food.
I have been on employment insurance for the last four months and have been depending solely on my fiance’s income to make ends meet.
If a user fee is introduced, or if the Yukon government ceases to pay for travel for services required outside of the Yukon, I may seriously have to consider leaving the territory as I cannot afford to spend more than $700 a year for flights plus the cost of accommodations and food. This would be extremely unfortunate as we are getting married this summer and have just purchased our first home together.
Is this what it’s going to come to?
Does the Yukon government give such little regard to the health of Yukoners that people may be forced to leave the territory permanently just to get the services they need?
If a user fee is introduced, one may as well go to British Columbia and pay their health premiums. One of the draws and benefits of living in the Yukon is free medical - which, up here, is a necessity, not a privilege.
I also agree with Ainstey when she said (about the survey), “The questions were so weighted you couldn’t give any genuine answers. They obviously know what they want people to say - it’s sleazy.”
I am not filling out the survey, because I don’t want my responses to aid what they already want to do, yet at the same time, I want to make my concerns heard.
On another note, in regard to where the survey mentions “the cost mark-up paid by the Yukon government for pharmaceutical drugs is considerably higher than in the provinces, and the Yukon has no maximum mark-up dollar amount Ã‰. So, should the government look at ways to get its costs for drug programs closer to what is paid in the provinces?”
According to the article, the “Yukon government is paying a higher mark-up rate on the cost of drugs than other jurisdictions.”
Also, according to the Yukon Health Care Review, released in September, the markup “is one of the highest in the country.”
I am particularly concerned that the Yukon government may increase the mark-up on prescription drugs even further.
I am on a prescription drug for a disease with no cure. I will be on it for the rest of my life. It is very expensive and costs about $700 per month. Unfortunately, although it should be, it is not listed on the chronic-disease list, so I cannot get help from the drug programs that the Yukon government currently offers to help offset the costs.
Again, if it wasn’t for benefits received from my fiance, I would find it difficult to afford it in the Yukon as it is. Should the cost increase, I’m not sure what I will do.
I have already expressed some of these concerns to deputy premier Elaine Taylor, and Darrell Paslowski, candidate for the Conservative Party. I was basically told that they would look into it, but the bottom line was there was nothing they could do.
If you have any ideas or suggestion as to who I may address these concerns to, it would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your article, it was good to see another perspective.