Union defends stance on seniors’ care

As the new president of the Yukon Federation of Labour, let me reassure you that it is the Yukon Federation of Labour's goal to work co-operatively

Open letter to Doug Graham, minister of health and social services:

As the new president of the Yukon Federation of Labour, let me reassure you that it is the Yukon Federation of Labour’s goal to work co-operatively with all parties to prevent the privatization of health-care services.

In your letter to the public you state: “The discussion about a private entrepreneur opening a long-term care facility in the territory is one I believe is long overdue. My government would welcome the opportunity to have this dialogue – not to replace our current facilities, but to complement our existing accommodations.”

This statement directly contradicts your conclusion that “I will advise them (your staff) that there has never been any intention to transfer these facilities to private operations.”

I’m sure you understand that it is our job “as unions” to speak out on behalf of our members, over 4,500 strong in Yukon. We trust that your government supports free speech and our right to speak directly to the public when your government attacks the public health-care system that Canadians have overwhelmingly said is a founding principle of our democratic society.

It is our belief that everyone has the right to access the benefits of a system that will always, by necessity, be primarily paid for as a collective society. No private enterprise can bear the cost of the research and technology development that is just one of the primary “overhead” costs that is driving the increasing costs of health care. It is not within a competitive marketplace that each of us as individuals contributes to the overall understanding of the human sciences.

Your government – and you as the minister of health and social services – has clearly stated that it is in favour of a two-tier (multi-tier?) health-care system and we are clearly stating that we are not. This should not come as a surprise to you. We further object to you targeting our elders and seniors as a primary strategy to solving increasing costs and you can count on us to fight your approach with every resource at hand.

We welcome your letter as an opportunity to clarify your government’s position on the future of the Yukon’s healthcare system. Perhaps a public forum where we can sit across from one another and speak directly to Yukoners would help clear the air.

Vikki Quocksister

President, Yukon Federation of Labour