Why is a life in Haines Junction worth less than elsewhere?

Why is a life in Haines Junction worth less than elsewhere? Thank you, Myles Dolphin for your Feb. 19 article on the cancellation of the Haines Junction ambulance pilot project. What your article missed (because I didn't have the numbers when you interv

Thank you, Myles Dolphin for your Feb. 19 article on the cancellation of the Haines Junction ambulance pilot project.

What your article missed (because I didn’t have the numbers when you interviewed me) is that with the pilot project and 100 per cent summer coverage, the cost per call in Haines Junction is just under $2,100 on average – in the middle of the pack when you compare costs to the rest of Yukon.

In fact, here are the 2015 annual average staffing costs per call for Yukon, using YEMS’ own reporting:

Eagle Plains: $7,944.00

Destruction Bay: $5,361.40

Marsh Lake: $4,692.43

Beaver Creek: $2,975.95

Tagish: $2,487.60

Pelly Crossing: $2,220.48

Haines Junction: $2,088.10

Faro: $1,527.27

Carmacks: $1,162.82

Carcross: $1,090.18

Mayo: $1,009.51

Dawson: $1,000.86

Teslin: $924.63

Ross River: $870.83

Watson Lake: $802.10

Whitehorse: $475.55

Clearly, the decision to cancel the pilot project in Haines Junction was not made just on fiscal grounds – if it were, other ambulance programs would have gone first.

Of course, this raises the question, why is a life in Haines Junction less valuable than a life elsewhere?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this decision should be just about money. I think it makes sense to start with deciding what service level Yukoners can expect. Mandating this service level is a political decision, one made at the cabinet level and included in legislation. From that point, Yukon Emergency Medical Services can determine the most effective, efficient, and fiscally responsible way to provide that service.

Recently, I read about Manitoba’s service standard – 30 minute response time, 90 per cent of the time, province-wide. We don’t need to be the same as Manitoba, but wouldn’t it be great if all Yukoners had a realistic grasp of what they can expect when they call the ambulance?

That would be transparent. That would be accountable. That would be equitable.

Legislating a service standard is common practice across North America. Doing so in Yukon would allow EMS to do what they do best – provide emergency health care to Yukoners – while keeping the politics where it belongs, with the politicians.

Some leadership is called for here.

This is a challenge that begs to be solved by our territorial politicians; it is outside of the grasp of EMS and our civil servants. Unfortunately, so far, all we hear from cabinet is a deafening silence.

Dave Weir

Haines Junction

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